CLC members want forensic probe into their organisation

p2373-nigel-scullion-okBy ERWIN CHLANDA

 

A document leaked to the Alice Springs News Online shows that members of the Central Land Council (CLC) are seeking a “forensic audit” into the multi million dollar investments of their own organisation.

 

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion (pictured), who is responsible for the CLC, is dodging questions about it.

 

When the council, which has 90 members, met at Ross River this month, a significant faction – including Warlpiris from the Tanami region – demanded “that the Central Land Council administration be forensically audited by an independent non-biased interstate accounting firm that will be selected by the Council delegates and have no past or current dealings with the administration or past and present staff,” according to the document.

 

A source says a majority of the members brought up the issue but it was not included in the meeting agenda nor was a vote taken.

 

The document names nine locations where the audit should be taking place, plus the CLC’s Aboriginal Associations Management Centre in Kennett Court, Alice Springs, and the office of the “investment arm” of the CLC, Centrecorp.

 

The CLC has nine regions, each of which is represented by between six and 12 members.

 

“We are calling for transparency and it is only through this process that we feel we can have this,” says the document.

 

“We want the auditors to report back to the council directly and not to communicate any findings to the administration staff past and present or their families.

 

“Money is going towards people and projects that we have no knowledge of and it has to stop now.”

 

Meanwhile Senator Scullion, who is responsible for the Aboriginal land councils, which are statutory bodies, is declining to be interviewed about the CLC’s alleged blocking of an initiative by the Amoonguna community.

 

The community says it is being denied a lease over its land enabling its residents – the land’s traditional owners – to engage in a string of commercial and social activities, including reviving a housing construction company.

 

Senator Scullion was elected to the Senate for the Northern Territory in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013.

 

Aboriginal housing, especially in remote areas, was a key concern of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the Intervention), introduced by the Federal government under John Howard in 2007 when Senator Scullion was a Senator in Mr Howard’s government.

 

He was the Federal Minister for Community Services in 2007, and has been the Minister for Indigenous Affairs since 2013.

 

That means his is now in his second term as the minister, yet yesterday he announced “an independent review into remote Indigenous housing to explore practical and innovative solutions to address the inadequate conditions and supply in remote Indigenous housing.

 

“Overcrowding, homelessness and poor housing conditions in remote Australia remain unacceptably high.

 

“This is despite significant investment from successive governments” – including of course his own.

 

In a media release on Thursday about the Productivity Commission’s damning Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report the Senator is singling out that the  “commission has found significant progress has been made across education, health and economic participation”.

 

He says: “Sometimes I think we focus too much on the negatives.”

 

Yet key initiatives Senator Scullion refers to in media releases this week remain in the future:–

 

• In the areas of incarceration, domestic violence, mental health and substance misuse, increased effort [is] required to improve outcomes – and better evidence [is] needed.

 

• Until recently, there has not been sufficient investment in evidence to drive Indigenous-specific mental health and suicide prevention responses.

 

• It is also important that individual programmes within the Indigenous Affairs portfolio [are] properly evaluated to determine their effectiveness.

 

• Of critical importance is the need for all governments to work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to identify local, practical solutions that work. While Senator Scullion is silent on the efforts by the Amoonguna community he claims “the Coalition Government is committed to working in genuine partnership with Indigenous communities to find solutions that work on the ground”.

 

The Alice Springs News Online made several requests for an interview with Senator Scullion over the last few days, on the subjects of Amoonguna, the CLC and Jacinta Price, prior to or subsequent to the publication of major reports.

 

When we renewed the request yesterday we were told this by the Minister’s media advisor: “On the majority of occasions, if we do provide comment, it is in the form of a written statement. However, we sometimes choose not to comment at all.”

 

We have since told the advisor that we don’t practice journalism by obtaining hearsay in email exchanges with a minder.

 

 

 

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18 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. Sean
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    The group was always: Giles, Tollner, Styles, Kezia and Nigel. Three are gone, time for the last two standing to be nailed! Get rid of them both! If Nigel isn’t taken out by Canberra, I have no doubt the ICAC will wipe them both out.

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  2. June
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    @ Walter Shaw: So this is how a CEO justifies his actions by verballing in a public forum that he and David Ross do the best they can.
    Well, answer why yapa except a few, are still suffering in third world conditions.
    Leaders are there to be a role model and advocate on behalf of the majority not look for personal gain through workplace knowledge … as stated by you: “I take my hat off to David Ross and others in the political spectrum like myself included in this field. It is emotionally consuming to inform the and preach to the unconverted blacks and whites alike. The meeting held on Tuesday holds no bearing.”
    This meeting that you speak about did occur on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 9.30am.
    Why would you state otherwise and claim here that it did not? Perhaps in your perception it did not occur, but there are witnesses who know otherwise and it is documented in black and white, being a noted reference point.

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  3. Russell Bray
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Erwin: I praised the man up for not siding with CLC like the rest of the Aboriginal Corporations Ingerreke, Lhere Artepe, Ilpma and the NT Government who receive government money and not going to the outstations. Maybe I should not have mentioned Amoonguna. I do not know.

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  4. Walter Shaw
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    To David Ross and Central Land Council, also all affected Aboriginal peoples subjected to the abhorrent current political climate and public government policies directed towards Aboriginal people: We work very hard at the top level of Aboriginal affairs and are not disingenuous to our peoples.
    I take my hat off to David Ross and others in the political spectrum like myself included in this field. It is emotionally consuming to inform the and preach to the unconverted blacks and whites alike. The meeting held on Tuesday holds no bearing.

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  5. Russell Bray
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    We, the Bray and Tickner family of 16 Mile Outstation (since 2012), have been on the Tangentyere work program for the same period, for which Centrelink provides the money.
    On Monday Lesley rang Tangentyere admin to have a bobcat picked up, which he had worked on over the week end.
    The person told him no as Central Land Council have blocked 16 mile from the work program. According to Mathew he was told the police maybe removing us from our rightful home land.
    Once again Central Land Council have come through the back door not informing the CEO who knew nothing about it and the board to have this passed.
    This is racial discrimination against our family. Yesterday (Tuesday) we had a meeting with Walter Shaw, who told us that Tangentyere is there for the people and not Central Land Council.
    Walter told us Central Land Council tried it with Amoonguna whom they service as well.
    Who do these people think they are?
    Bob Gosford (a lawyer from Central Land Council) on the 19th had a meeting with the executive.
    I believe the CLC executive board to be acting illegally, because Ngala Kunoth Monks was nominated by three people from the Mbantwe Group of Lhere Artepe and not the full nine directors of Untulye and Ilpme, for these people had trespass notices put on them by the mother.
    We were on the Agenda but not invited.

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  6. Richard Downs
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    The majority of our people don’t realise, CLC is a government organisation. It does not belong to the people. All they are doing is another form of stealing ideas, culture, knowledge, land. This is information we cannot get back and belongs to the government to use against our people. The majority of my people say we got no culture, no power and if you want to find out anything about your people and land you have to go to CLC.
    Any business / partnerships opportunities out on remote areas you have to try and go through the gate keepers.
    CEO has been there too long, there should be a four year term only, then he/she must set up mentor training programs. This should have been happening over the last 30 years so other people have opportunities to take over from solicitors, lawyers, anthropologists.
    Yes, where are the jobs in the businesses under Centrecorp. It’s time now to change directions, new blood, ideas, young people, real businesses.

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  7. Chris Tangey
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Perhaps the reason the Minister is “dodging questions” is because he is being mentioned in several despatches arriving at this facebook page and he doesn’t want to complicate the matter: https://www.facebook.com/clcroyalcommission/ I am one of the Administrators.

    Elke Weismann, are you going to tell everyone you are the Communications Manager for CLC or are you just commenting as a private citizen?

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  8. Hal Duell
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:18 am

    I agree with Alex Nelson when he says that there badly requires to be an official inquiry probing the Central Land Council, Centrecorp and its various affiliates and subsidiaries, and I also agree that this will likely blow out to be the NT’s equivalent of the Fitzgerald Inquiry of Queensland in the late 1980s.
    The CLC has its favourites out on the communities, and those favourites have their favourites in terms of access to Toyotas, housing and jobs that bring an actual salary.
    Start pulling a thread from that jumper, and the whole garment stands a good chance of unraveling.
    A lot of people will stand to be disrobed, and none of us relish the idea of standing naked in front of our peers.
    So expect to be fought tooth and nail when trying to initiate an independent inquiry.

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  9. Posted November 22, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    In 1989 I lived in a unit in a backyard of a property in Hartley Street neighbouring Centrecorp. I was astonished to observe a senior town council alderman, also a prominent local CLP identity and former real estate agent, regularly accessing that property where I learned he was employed.
    This dumbfounded me, as this was a period of time when the NT Government (CLP) was in constant furious conflict with the land councils and other Aboriginal organisations across the NT.
    I misread the situation next door, as I assumed this was a small but positive step towards finding common ground between the CLP and the Aboriginal organisations (incidentally, David Ross had become the Director of the CLC for the first time, replacing Pat Dodson who had returned to WA and was appointed a commissioner for the Black Deaths in Custody inquiry in that state).
    In 1990 I was the chairman of the CLP’s Flynn-cum-Greatorex Branch. On several occasions I divided proceeds from combined branch meetings with the Centrecorp “employee”, himself the treasurer of the Alice Springs Branch, in his office at Centrecorp.
    I became quite familiar with the internal layout of the building; and at one stage the floorboards in his office were replaced with expensive jarrah timber.
    During that year this person was preselected as a CLP candidate for a new electorate in town (following a redistribution of boundaries).
    As a local branch chairman, I was a member of the collegiate panel (in whose creation I had major role) to choose the CLP’s candidates for the seats in Central Australia.
    This particular individual won preselection by one vote over another nomination for that seat. Interestingly, in his comprehensive application seeking nomination as a CLP candidate, he made no reference to his position at Centrecorp.
    In fact, this fact was never publicised for many years except for one occasion when he was quoted in a Centralian Advocate article reporting the announcement that the tourist lodge development at Kings Canyon would proceed (a project in which Centrecorp was involved from the beginning).
    It so happened that our recommendation of the candidate for the seat of Stuart was rejected at the CLP’s Annual Conference in Darwin that year; and I was the unwitting patsy that relayed highly sensitive information about this person (which I’m now certain was wrong) to the party’s leaders that led to that decision.
    The meeting chose to appoint two people to oversee the completion of the preselection process for Stuart; and one of those appointed was the Centrecorp employee. In due course I ended up being requested (via the Office of Chief Minister in Alice Springs) to be one of two CLP candidates for Stuart in 1990.
    The Centrecorp employee narrowly lost his campaign in Alice Springs; he continued in his roles as a town council alderman and CLP functionary, at one time serving on the party’s Management Committee (not to mention his membership of many other committees in town).
    This person (along with his close friend in the Office of Chief Minister in Alice Springs) sought preselection as a CLP candidate for the 1994 NT election campaign.
    They were key figures in the attempt to pervert the party’s preselection processes to achieve their aims but ultimately were unsuccessful. On one occasion the Centrecorp employee illegally gained access to private bank accounts of certain members appointed to the preselection panel which led to these people being removed from it (all of this was reported exclusively in the Alice Springs News during 1995).
    All of this is just to illustrate there have been serious conflicts of interest involving Centrecorp which stretches back more than a quarter of a century, almost back to its inception in the mid 1980s.
    There is no question that there badly requires to be an official inquiry probing the Central Land Council, Centrecorp and its various affiliates and subsidiaries but I warn this will likely blow out to be the NT’s equivalent of the Fitzgerald Inquiry of Queensland in the late 1980s.

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  10. Russell Bray
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Well said June, more of it. Great. ho owns the land?
    The other week I saw the CEO of Land Management NT Government in the office of birth deaths and marriages.
    The conversation was about a caveat to put on the 16 Mile outstation to stop Central Land Council kicking my family off.
    The CEO told me that a caveat would be useless because no one owns the Freehold Land. Central Land Council is just the caretaker of the land trust which comes under the name of Thenge Lhere which is a corporation under ORIC in Canberra and they do not own the land.
    The land belongs to all the Aboriginal people from Northern Arunta for the deed is for everyone who has an interest in their ancestors’ land.
    So what gives Bob Gosford, lawyer at Central Land Council, the authority to go to an executive meeting with our names on the agenda and not invite us to fight for our rights?
    The bit of Stock Route, 4000 hectares, which is part of Burt Plain, belong to the Northern Arunta People for everyone.

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  11. Smithy
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Well said, Erwin and June.
    Unfortunately, many Aboriginal people are disgruntled and disengaged with with the CLC because they have dared question an anthropologist, lawyer or the CEO and have been tossed out with the garbage.
    The CEO has recognition for his land rights / outstation claims, but how many other families have not been looked after so favourably?
    The CLC says the organisation is set up to help people enjoy their land rights. I wonder how many Aboriginal people are actually enjoying their land rights.
    When someone has dared stick their neck out and question the CLC, they are shut down by the CLC machinery.
    Where is the community engagement? What does the community (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) understand about the CLC and its functions? Are its staff even privy to, or have knowledge of its investments like Kittles, or Centrecorp as a whole.
    Who benefits from Centrecorp moneys / scholarships / grants? Is it remote disadvantaged Aboriginal people?

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  12. Lesley Tickner
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Well, the administration of the CLC once again has been asked for transparency. Let’s see what the CLC director and his lawyers do this time.
    Last time they were flying around in a private airplane belonging to a lawyer employed by the CLC, flying out to communities, shutting down shops to get rid of Maurie Ryan, former CLC Chairman.
    All these Aboriginal organisations and private organisations that have connections to the CLC have CLC employees sitting as directors.
    This includes the director of the CLC himself, Mr Ross.
    Check out Alice Cars, a sister company of the Peter Kittle Toyota Motor Company, and see who the directors are.
    In my view the CLC is nothing but a doorway for educated Aboriginals with their own benefits in mind, to sit on boards and make lots of money for themselves.

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  13. June
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 9:33 am

    @ Elke: It would appear that you have a relationship (personal or professional) with ones who are employed in the CLC administration for the defensive comment you make.
    They are being seen to be doing good LITTLE community projects, but the reality of all of this is this; INVESTMENT money!
    Once money is moved in a resolution to a section of the PTY LTD companies within Centrecorp, the money then becomes private and no one can see who or where this goes to as.
    These are listed with ASIC and as private businesses, they can move massive amounts of money around without having to notify the government.
    But if the everyday Joe was to move $10,000, they have to notify the government, why then is private business able to do this?
    The Aboriginal organisations are listed with ORIC of which are publicly accessible.
    So through this investing of money, who is truly benefiting, not the Traditional owners, but the likes of Peter Kittle, Osborne brothers, and every other person involved in these companies.
    Yapa are still in the same position as 20 years ago when royalties came into existence. At these private companies how many of the TOs from those tribes are actually working within them? NONE!
    In all the years of operation, not once has there been such an audit, if they have nothing to hide I cannot see what the concern is. The time has come for our voices to unite especially us Warlpiri mob who have been trodden down for years … we want our money to benefit us!

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  14. Hal Duell
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Could it be that the Northern Land Council and the Central Land Council are lineal descendants of the old Aborigines Protection Board(s) that operated in NSW, West Australia, Queensland and South Australia?
    You know the drill: We know what’s best for you, so do as we say and we will provide the rations.
    Just a thought, but they do seem to exert a similar level of control.

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  15. Russell Bray
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    About time our people have stood up for themselves after all these years since the Australian government / Central Land Council took over their lives 1976 and ruined the future of all our children.
    BEAUTIFUL. LOVE IT. DO NOT STOP. SHOULD THEY THREATEN YOU WITH TAKING YOU TO COURT FOR YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF THE CEO AND ADMINISTRATION.

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  16. Elke Wiesmann
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Your anonymous sources must have attended a different CLC meeting to the rest of us.
    Maybe in some parallel trumpish universe, where the Australian National Audit Office which gives the CLC clean audit reports year after year is part of an elaborate cover-up?
    Why not level with the followers of your blog and publish the alleged letter?
    [We’re quoting from the document. Have a look. ED]

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  17. Michael Dean
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

    To coin a popular phrase at the moment, it might be time to drain the swamp at the CLC. It would seem some of its members know something is up.

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  18. Hal Duell
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    I wonder if this latest request to pry information from the uber-secrecy of the Land Councils is simply a desire to access their own recent history.
    We are flooded with stories from ancient times, dream-time and the like, but what about what has happened over the last 50 and 60 years? About that time span we all know precious little. What little we do know, to the extent that it has entered the public domain, is all but non-existent.
    And that recent history lies, to a great extent, in the vaults of the different land councils.
    What are you hiding, and why are you so concerned that it be made public?

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