Mal-administration on APY land supplied by George Kenmore 27 December 2013
ince mid 2013 the SA Ombudsman has been investigating failure to comply with the governance requirements of the APY Land Rights Act by non-aboriginal administration and agency personnel. In a report dated 9 November 2013 (which AARD has refused to put on its website or acknowledge in any way) the Ombudsman found that former APY General Manager Richard Preece acted wrongly and in breech of the Act by failing to allow Anangu access to minutes of executive board meetings, failing to provide copies of those minutes as required by the Act and trying to charge a fee for copies when no fee was legally payable. The Ombudsman made special mention of the inappropriateness of charging these fees to Anangu pensioners. “What are they hiding? Why are we denied our rights and why are we being mistreated like this on our land?” asked senior elder Mike Williams (pictured). Both current APY General Manager Sean McCarthy and AARD filed submissions with the Ombudsman supporting Preece’s conduct which was rejected. The Ombudsman also found that a letter sent by 200 senior elders dated 21 May 2013 requesting an extraordinary general meeting of the members of APY was a valid requisition on its face and that it was not necessary for the APY executive to make a resolution for an extraordinary general meeting; that it was up to the administration to call one. The resolutions Elders have asked to be voted on are for there to be a forensic audit of the $3 million in members’ funds which has gone missing leaving APY insolvent to
the tune of $1.39 million as at 30 June 2012 and amendment of the approved constitution to provide for things such as gender equality on the APY executive board. “AARD and Mc Carthy are blocking an extraordinary general meeting by saying APY has not received our requisition” said Mr Kenmore. The Ombudsman is conducting a second investigation into the missing $3 million. The APY General Manager has control of the money; not the executive or any Anangu. He must produce audited accounts, acquit six monthly to AARD and must do a budget, which the Minister must approve. AARD has extensive oversight powers under the Act. “The shocking truth is that incompetent and/or corrupt administrators and consultants have ended up with the money and AARD has not done its job properly” said Mike Williams. “They are now trying to cover it up” he added. Dr Grant Nieman has been appointed as Conciliator under S36 of the APY Land Rights Act to resolve allegations made by traditional owners such as withholding and alteration of legal reports and obstructing legal services from a panel led by a retired judge since May 2010. “They did this to get the money, to destroy our governance and stop us introducing a code of conduct to end a government backroom market in occupying APY land without traditional owners’ consent”, said Mike Williams ‘The Ombudsman’s report has been a small triumph” said Mr Kenmore.” The truth will come out. This is the tip of the iceberg.” he added.” Our next step is to ask the human rights commission to investigate interference with our governance in the context of Australia’s international obligations and make the appropriate
misconduct referrals. Watch this space.” Mr Kenmore concluded. In a knee jerk reaction to the SA Ombudsman’s decision to investigate elder’s complaints made in May 2013, the Wetherill government appointed, in September, a panel headed by Robyn Layton to run a smokescreen exercise/agenda, with four apparent aims. First, to strongly suggest that the APY executive is responsible for the current disaster that is APY and for the missing money. Second, force people onto the APY executive who although free to nominate generally choose not. Third to dictate who is able to stand for public office on the executive by imposing standards far more onerous than apply to members of parliament. This is to be “overseen” by a non-aboriginal committee neither elected by and/ or accountable to anyone. Fourth, to exclude particular individuals. “Like the ACT marriage laws all of this would be unlawful. I’m happy to face anyone at an election. But we do need to have an election where people can stand on their merits. That’s basic democracy” said Mr Kenmore. “There is no point in amending an act which non-aboriginal people breech on a daily basis every time money, value, or power is involved. This is all taking on a dimension of very great ugliness, as if our complaints and the Ombudsman’s report had never been made or written.” concluded Mr Kenmore.
Since mid 2013 the SA Ombudsman has been investigating failure to comply with the governance requirements of the APY Land Rights Act by non-...