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Home Issue 3 Macklin spokesperson: Dept looking at Lhere Artepe, Darryl Pearce deals to check...

Macklin spokesperson: Dept looking at Lhere Artepe, Darryl Pearce deals to check ABA funds 'have been used appropriately'


By ERWIN CHLANDA
 
A spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said this afternoon she understands the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs is looking into issues surrounding the use Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) funds by a company linked to the Lhere Artepe native title organisation.
 
The spokesperson said this was to “ensure that all ABA funds have been used appropriately.
 
“Grants from the ABA are made to support projects which benefit Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.”
 
Posting of January 10:
 
The Alice Springs News on Tuesday reported it had obtained an email exchange revealing a bitter dispute about the purchase of shares in a company.
 
It casts more light on the deal by an affiliate of the Lhere Artepe native title organization, Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd (LA Enterprises.)
 
However, the main players are keeping mum on what appears to be an unfolding scandal.
 
The company, CDE Civil, collapsed soon after the majority shareholding was bought by LA Enterprises.
 
As reported last week, it appears the deal was financed substantially by mortgaging supermarkets bought by the affiliate for $14m including a $6m grant from the Federal Government-administered ABA.
 
The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) said “no comment”.
 
LA Enterprises, the owner of the three IGA supermarkets, has not responded to a request for comment made yesterday. We asked whether it had approved the actions mid-last year in relation to CDE Civil by its employee Darryl Pearce, who was sacked in December.
 
We sent a copy of the email to the board of LA Enterprises and its chairperson, Patricia Miller. She is also the Deputy to the Administrator of the Northern Territory and the longtime director of the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service.
 
We asked whether she and the board had been aware of Mr Pearce’s email, and whether it had had their approval. A spokeswoman for Mrs Miller, a member of the influential Liddle family, told the News she would convey to Mrs Miller and the board the request for comment.  None had been provided by the time of posting this report.
 
CDE Civil, which was engaged in the construction of the stalled Lhere Artepe real estate development in Mt Johns Valley, was put into liquidation in September 2011 with reported debts of $2.5m to 56 creditors.
 
We asked LA Enterprises, the majority shareholder of CDE Civil, on December 17 last year what consequences this would have for the town’s native title holders. No answer.
 
The email of May last year leaked to the Alice News suggests this is how the share deal unfolded.
 
Mr Pearce, on behalf of LA Enterprises, obtained a 51% shareholding.
 
The CDE group was initially in the hands of brothers Robbie and Shannon Rusca, members of an Aboriginal family, respected in the business community for its record of many decades in mining and civil works in The Centre and the Top End.
 
The string of substantial businesses had been started by Territory identities, their parents Sid and Jenny Rusca.
 
In the email exchange Peter Atkinson, the administration manager of the CDE Group, told Mr Pearce the Rusca brothers “want to sell you their shareholdings at the same price as you paid the other shareholders”.
 
Robbie Rusca “understands that you paid $3.5 million for 51% so is requesting $2.4 million for the 33.3%” he and Shannon Rusca were holding. The brothers would then resign.
 
Mr Pearce, on behalf of the “Lhere  Artepe Group”, offered the brothers just “a full and final amount of $600,000 being $400,000 in ‘CASH’ and $200,000 in assumed debt for the shares plus cash”.
 
It was clearly a take-it-or-leave-it deal with a hefty sting in the tail.
 
Mr Pearce says in the email: “If the offer below is not accepted that is fine, but I must indicate that due to the position of the company we will be seeking a capital injection from the shareholders if the position of the company does not improve and we will be seeking EACH shareholder to contribute $1,000,000 EACH for a war chest of $4,000,000 CASH in July 2011 if a share holder chooses not to participate in the capital raising then their share numbers will be diluted down to reflect their none [sic] participation in the capital raising.”
 
What that clearly meant was that if the Ruscas can’t come up with a $1m each, they lose their shares.
 
Says Mr Pearce: “This is a full and final offer and will not be repeated nor bettered under the current circumstances or situation.  Whilst we make this offer make no mistake that we will take any and ALL legal action to protect our investment in the group including using the full extent of the law to get all remedies available to us under the shareholders agreement and if that ends up sending people financially to the wall then so be it, as after the way we have been treated we will not go easy on anyone.”
 
The May 2011 email exchange indicates serious tensions in CDE between the Ruscas and Mr Pearce.
 
Notwithstanding this Mr Pearce drew liberally, in a glossy brochure (pictured) promoting what was now the company he controlled, on the good reputation of CDE that the Ruscas had built up over the years: “CDE has a depth of experience spanning a wide variety of projects ranging from open cut mining, major road developments to subdivisions, tailings dams and airstrip developments.
 
“Having a significant Aboriginal workforce CDE ensures a strong relationship and understanding with Indigenous people and their country’s flora and fauna,” says the brochure.
 
 
 

20 COMMENTS

  1. The chairperson Pat Miller should resign immediately. We need to get the police involved to investigate what has really been going on.

  2. I agree with William Craig that Pat Miller should resign and ORIC should take a look at who are legitimate traditional owners and not ones who jump on the bandwagon.

  3. So you are trying to tell me (in one line) CLC got the TOs wrong many many years ago when a lot of old people were around to verify theire knowledge and heritage. Pfft! The TOs have been identified for years. There are names of people on these emails and in the stories that have come out of the proverbial wood work seeking the claim other people’s country. You all should be embarrassed which I can see you are clearly not and you insult your own elders and neglect your own heritage. I think its time to get over it.

  4. T/O: Why don’t you put your name on your comment? Or are you one of them five minute blackfellas, too?

  5. Well, I’m a traditional owner of Alice Springs and I went to a couple of meetings and to see all these new faces that were sitting there. I was shocked, people that didn’t even recognize themselves as Aboriginals, people – yes – out of the woodwork. In my opinion get people in there that are not related to any of the TOs, give it up to people that can run a business properly. This is embarrassing arguing amongst ourselves. We are there on display all the time and what do we do play into the hands of others ALL THE TIME.

  6. You’re missing my point … it’s not who I am … it’s who you are that needs to be ascertained.

  7. Reading all this crap is so petty you’s all need to get a life and find something better in life to do. We don’t have to put crap up for everybody to read because we know who the real TOs are.

  8. Real t/o? Not. Yes, there are a lot of old people still alive. They can tell you some of these people have nothing to do with Alice Springs. How far is Stirling Station from Alice Springs?

  9. I totally agree with William Craig’s comment. CLC has been stirring trouble amongst Arrernte people for many years. They do not obtain the original documentation of who are the TOs. I’m a traditional land carer, as my title states that I take care of country, not own it … that’s the difference. Being a traditional owner means that you have to participate in cultural ceremony, speak the language of the land, dance and sing the cultural path of stories old.
    As for you Real TO you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror. My families lived out in the bush, whereas yours lived in houses in the township of Alice, being desperate housewives, and did not want to be a part of full blood. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
    I lived my life on my Ancestors’ land, I was taught by my grandmothers and storieds told by my grandfather. Where were you so called black fellas when my grandparents needed your help?
    It is all about who you know, not what you know.
    Suburban blackfellas are only in it for the money, cause they got mortgage to pay.
    I’m a hard working Arrernte woman, I know who I am, I speak the language of the land. I speak many desert dialect, I have my cultural PhD … what about you?
    William Craig grew up with traditional Arrernte people, who do you think you are for judging him?

  10. In response to : A/S
    Posted January 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm
    Reading all this crap is so petty you’s all need to get a life and find something better in life to do. We don’t have to put crap up for everybody to read because we know who the real TOs are.
    Did your friends (The real TOs) find out about their Aboriginality by reading from a book about traditional Arrernte people’s stories and their ties to the land? We are finding something better to do for our lives and our children. You’re the one I feel pity for. (Pity is the correct spelling not Petty.)
    Next time refer to the dictionary.

  11. In reponse to: A real TO.
    Posted January 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm
    You’re missing my point … it’s not who I am … it’s who you are that needs to be ascertained.
    William Craig is well known by his traditional Arrernte families. YOU need to be ascertained. You the one who is missing the point.

  12. New subject; get a life. FYI I do have a culturally based, family oriented cultural life, thank you very much. It is you who are boring and needs to find a your cultural life. Obviously you have no cultural sense of belonging in this town that is dominated by language groups.
    Kunye, Have a good day.

  13. Five minute Real T/O: Go see a doco called Changing Races. That should shut you up.
    OK, five minute Real T/O. Tell me what group did MOST of the singing and dancing at the Yeperenye festival. Antulye men and women. And if you know so much about Aranda law, you should know that to talk for land you have to be an Aranda law man. I can see two boys on that list.

  14. Kemarre must be a real BLACK FELLA. This Arrente person must really know what they are talking about. Real T/O (NOT), how come you want to change the subject now? There may be a few people packing their toothbrush ready to go to the slammer!
    BIG THANK YOU TO KEMARRE.

  15. Please follow your family tree and find out where your grandfather really come from. Shame shame shame. Speak the language, know the dance song, show your painting of the land.

  16. In response to Napanangka
    Posted March 5, 2012, Dear Napangka, this is a matter for ARRERNTE people of this country to say their opinion. We are on ARRERNTE gounds. We certainly have our FAMILY TREE located at Strehlow’s Research centre. We have our dance and welcomes all language groups to join in in happy, friendly manner and respect to each other. We paint our ancestors’ design upon our body to represent our families from the past, present and into the future. We sing our songs of this great ARRERNTE land and everything within. We were once strong tribal allies in the past. What changed? People’s attitudes and grog and politics. Please do not lecture us ARRERNTE people about who we are and where we come from. I am ARRAERNTE sister for William Craig.

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