Update 8.15am December 17:
LAE Enterprises, a company connected to Alice Springs’ native title organisation, Lhere Artepe, today confirmed reports in the Alice Springs News Online that Darryl Pearce (pictured) has been sacked.
The statement said: “In response to the need to address significant business challenges, in particular the slippage in timing of completion of the Mt Johns Stage 1 [real estate] Project (above right), the Board of Lhere Artepe Enterprises has reviewed operating costs and made a decision to reduce ongoing overheads to ensure LAE’s continued financial sustainability.
As a result of this management review, the CEO position for LAE Enterprises has been made redundant and Mr Darryl Pearce has left his position with the company effective 2 December 2011.
The Board recognizes the key role Darryl has played in the development of LAE and wishes him all the best for the future.
The Board of Lhere Artepe Enterprises is actively reviewing the current and future situation of the company and its entities.
Through this review process the Board has already taken steps to ensure that it has a strong focus on effective management while also reducing overheads. This includes the recruitment earlier this year of an experienced general manager for the company’s supermarkets business, Peter McGannon.
Together, Peter and the Board are bringing a clear focus on operational discipline of the LAE Supermarkets.
The Supermarkets are sound businesses of many years’ standing, and the Board looks forward to a year of consolidation and improved business performance in 2012.
The Board is confident these developments will ensure that the LAE companies continue to be successful and viable enterprises. A clear focus on operational discipline will ensure a robust future for LAE.
Updated 09.30 December 13
By ERWIN CHLANDA
Darryl Pearce has been sacked from the position of CEO of Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd (LAE), which Bob Liddle describes as the investment arm of the Alice Springs native title body.
Mr Liddle is a senior member of the Mbantua estate group, one of the three moieties of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC).
He says his sister, Pat Miller, the Territory’s Deputy Administrator and chairwoman of LAE, gave Mr Pearce notice in writing a few days ago.
A meeting will be held at 10am today in the Lhere Artepe office to discuss immediate and long-term moves.
An insider says the meeting was called by president Brian Stirling some time ago, before Mr Pearce’s sacking, but it is likely members of a group within Lhere Artepe seeking to reform the native title body will be attending.
Mr Stirling did not respond to a request for comment from the Alice News Online.
The Alice Springs News attempted to contact Mr Pearce when rumors of his dismissal surfaced but he did not reply.
He was also the administrative officer of LAAC “on contract” from LAE.
LAE is involved in real estate development in Mt Johns Valley.
The civil engineering company CDE Civil, which was involved in the construction of the development, and has Mr Pearce as its only director, went into liquidation recently.
A prominent member of the reform group, Ian Conway (pictured left), says notices of today’s meeting were sent “to some people, but not to everyone”.
Asked this morning whether reformers will be there in force, Mr Conway said: “We cannot get people enthused right now because they link Lhere Artepe with the old regime.”
He says the town’s official native title body needs to be reformed “for the benefit of all the people, not individuals. People of the town. We need to bring back the town to what it used to be, bring back relationships between everyone as it was originally.
“Arrernte people need to be recognized as the controllers of the country so far as Indigenous people are concerned.”
Mr Conway, whose father was one most senior custodians of the town, says the directions should come from the book “The town grew up dancing” by Wenten Rubuntja. He says 30 years ago the town’s people were in harmony but since “I have seen the whole thing fall down.
“It’s been coming slowly over the last few years and now [the tensions are] revved up.
“Everyone is an expert, but they have no idea about leadership and protocol. These were followed totally when I was a kid. There was no criminal activity between black and white people.
“We need to give again to Aboriginal people the same respect as others enjoy in this community.”
In his view these changes should be the principal objective of Lhere Artepe: “We don’t want to own millions of dollars of real estate, but we need to have recognition for the ‘right’ people, such as the people at White Gate. They have been removed from decision making, and now they may be pushed off their own land.”
Mr Liddle says the reason for Mr Pearce’s sacking was “his failure to keep all the directors advised of the deals he was doing, lack of accountability and inadequate procedures”.
Mr Liddle says there will be an investigation by an independent auditor of the events leading up to the sacking.
It appears funds were borrowed without board approval, and negotiations appear to have taken place about the development of further land in the Mt Johns area over which native title has not been extinguished.
“No deals can be made without consulting the native title owners,” says Mr Liddle.
The News has again sought comment from Mr Pearce and will report any response.
The News has covered extensively the bitter and protracted controversy surrounding Mr Pearce (google our site).
Update 8.15am December 17: