Minister says ‘no’ to further Mbantua Festival grant



Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has rejected a further request for a Federal government grant for the Mbantua Festival held in Alice Springs last year.

Several suppliers and contractors to the festival have not been paid.

The festival’s chairman, Neville Perkins (pictured), told them he expected a further grant of $350,000 would be made because it had been recommended by the Aboriginal Benefits Account.

But Senator Scullion, with whom the final decision rested, has declined the allocation.

Mbantua Festival has previously received more than $1.3m in Federal funding.

Senator Scullion says he had a meeting with Mr Perkins but the conversation was confidential.

Mr Perkins did not respond to requests from the Alice Springs News Online for comment.

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10 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. Kelly
    Posted February 5, 2014 at 8:53 am

    @Tjangala, I agree, open up an investigation, where did the money go.

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  2. Matt Lemmens
    Posted February 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

    $1.3m plus a very, very, very substantial gate taking plus private donations. Maybe it just flew away!

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  3. Tjangala
    Posted February 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

    The story is clear: The Mbantua festival was out of money before it even began. They have since drained the town of good will and enthusiasm towards Aboriginal organisations and events.
    I manage a business which is owed significant funds from this venture, we were told directly after the event that it was a success and we were to be paid on time. We have been told every week to “wait until next week”.
    As Jim said: Where is the money? Did it go to pay the Perkins family and friends a nice wage since the first payment was received from ABA?
    How has this helped Aboriginal people? I know of a handful of dancers, artists and musicians who are yet to be paid for this. Remember this: “The Arrernte led festival brings together over 200 artists, elders and commentators from across the desert and beyond to give audiences an immersive experience of Indigenous culture unlike any other.”
    Would have been great if they were paid sometime in 2013, looks like it might not be 2014.
    Let’s open the books and see where all this $1,300,000 went, not to mention the reduced prices, good will, concessions donations given to the Mbantua directors (Krystal and Neville Perkins).
    Investigate them I say.

    View Comment
  4. Jim
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    The saga continues.
    Let’s see the books.
    Where is the accountability from the $1.3m that the ABA gave to this Aboriginal organisation. Who gained form it?
    Many Aboriginal dancers and performers remain unpaid. Many organisations are out of pocket because this organisation mismanaged funds, and dismissed people who dared to ask any questions.
    What fees were the directors paid? What other family members were paid and for what service? Seems like other people and other organisations (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) put up the risk for these clowns.
    ABA, Minister (NT and Federal) need to urgently investigate.

    View Comment
  5. Luke
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Mr Perkins and his family’s financial mismanagement have left a huge number of artists and service providers without any support or commitments to pay outstanding invoices.
    Unfortunately this means that no-one will support another Aboriginal festival in Alice Springs, let alone the “proposed” bi annual Mbantua festival.
    I would love to see a breakdown of how much the Perkins family gained from this festival. Were they helping disadvantaged Aboriginal people? Or were they lining the pockets of friends family? I have the understanding ABA money is to support Aboriginal people.
    What support did the Mbantua festival provide? What were the KPIs set by the ABA? Let’s check the books of this organisation. Is Mr Perkins personally responsible? Where to from here?

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  6. Matt Lemmens
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Should this be left unresolved, suppliers, contractors and service clubs will no longer touch / support these organizations with a barge pole.

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  7. Peter Hoey
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Will there be any publication showing a break-up of costs and who got paid? 1.3 million-just where did the money go? I suspect that star turn performers got their fee (in advance?) while the suppliers/contractors including not for profit organisations missed out. This operation appears to be more opaque than transparent.

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  8. Kelly
    Posted January 31, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Where did the $1.3m go, admin costs?

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  9. Nimby
    Posted January 31, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Would love to see the books on where that 350k went.

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  10. Lou
    Posted January 30, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    This family don’t even live in Alice Springs anymore, funny how they continued to be paid beautiful wages and use NTG government car for personal use rather than the festival. Shame Job.

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