‘I sign the cheques’: Scullion

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Senator Nigel Scullion, Lingiari CLP candidate Tina MacFarlane and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in an Alice Springs media scrum today, announcing a $2.36m extension to St John Ambulance NT to help build a training and volunteer centre. Coincidentally, the first Finke casualty was taken to the hospital today by St John – a bike rider who’d gone over the handlebars.

 

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Indigenous community of Mutitjulu will stay and is set to grow despite the principal reason for building Yulara, in the 1970s, now known as the Ayers Rock Resort, was to move facilities out of the national park and to return the disturbed area to its former pristine glory.

 

We put to Senator Nigel Scullion today that the Everingham CLP Government spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for those reasons, yet there are now 100 buildings in close proximity to The Rock, and 20 more are due.

 

Said Senator Scullion: “I wasn’t around in Everingham’s days so I can’t comment on the motivations of governments at that time.

 

“There are 100 buildings. There is a township called Mutitjulu, and the overcrowding is leading to particular issues.

 

“So we have to add more houses. We’re providing 20 more houses which is part of a $350m contribution that the Commonwealth is making with the NT Government to ensure we’re alleviating these circumstances.”

 

Asked about disclosures of investigations into theft and corruption in Aboriginal communities in last night’s Four Corners (ABC TV), and why the government was paying public money to Aboriginal organisations incapable of proper management, Senator Scullion said: “It’s called self-determination.”

 

We asked him what happens to public servants who write the cheques for money that gets misappropriated, Senator Scullion said: “Public servants don’t write the cheques. I write them.

 

“And I take those matters very seriously, which is why I have instigated the significant changes through the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations to ensure that all of the alleged offences, and other offences, are investigated.

 

“Allegations need to be investigated. Not all of them require prosecution. [We] need to create an environment where people will know that this isn’t an easy place to get away with criminal behaviour, just because it’s a Indigenous community.

 

“The introduction of independent board members has made a significant change. They bring a lot of experience to the board. Invariably they are the ones the non-indigenous CEO simply can’t get around.”

 

He said non-indigenous people stealing from Aboriginal people “has been going on far too long”.

 

UPDATE

 

A policy advisor to Senator Scullion, traveling with him, says the Ayers Rock Resort is trading at a profit. During the Global Financial Crisis its estimated value dropped to $200m but it is now around $250m. It was bought by the Indigenous Land Corporation for $292m.

 

 

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5 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Maths
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    A lot of money has been sent to Darwin over the years, meant for remote communities but instead was used for pork barreling in the northern suburbs etc.
    How much of the SIHIP money was chewed up by management? The corruption starts at the top.

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  2. Fred the Philistine
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Let’s be honest here, it’s not just the non Indigenous people who are stealing. There has been fraud among the Indigenous people as well, just look at Groote Eylandt incident and the one in Darwin.
    I believe that these corporations need to be investigated. Far too much money is being channeled to them with very little results. Health and hygiene has not improved in the last 40 years. I don’t think these corporations are spending the money wisely or in the right areas.
    Don’t forget, this is hard working tax payers’ moneys which is being given to the corporations. The public should know how the money is spent.

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  3. Jack
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Maths, the pattern I have seen over 30 years is that ordinary, hard working people get jobs in Aboriginal communities.
    They see a flood of federal funding that is mostly wasted, more money that is coming easier than anything they have ever seen in their own lives.
    They witness local corruption at every level, locals who don’t care what they do as long as they are paid off.
    They start to rort the system and their stealing gets bigger and bigger.
    They tell themselves that it is not wrong because it is going to be wasted.
    And so a person who has never stolen ends up stealing hundreds of thousand from Aboriginal people.
    Not confining it and they need to be brought to account but it is the wasteful and corrupt system that keeps producing scammers.

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  4. Peter
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Nige, I think you are a little confused – you don’t physically sign the cheques.
    I think your job description actually requires you to sign the checks.
    Perhaps there is a much needed level of scrutiny of your own department that was highlighted by Four Corners.

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  5. Maths
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 7:44 am

    He said non indigenous people stealing from Aboriginal people has been going on far to long. Probably since 1788, by my calculations, and still happening.

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