UPDATE May 24, 9:30am: Major comment from challenger Michael Liddle in comment box below this report.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
The letter to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion from Central Land Council (CLC) chairman Maurie Ryan, which led to his suspension by the 11 member executive, has been leaked to the Alice Springs News Online.
The fact that Mr Ryan was yesterday re-elected as the chairman, in an overwhelming vote, appears to indicate that the concerns he is raising in that letter against CLC staff, and his demands for greater transparency of the organisation’s multi-million dollar business deals, has broad support in the council.
A source attending the meeting says a copy of the letter (excerpt pictured) was given to every person at the meeting.
Mr Ryan received 51 votes, Michael Liddle got 14 and two other candidates received six and three, respectively.
Mr Ryan says in his letter to Senator Scullion that there was now a “dominance of the administration over the authority of the elected members”.
He said he had “felt humiliated and shamed in front of my peers, respected Elders, TOs and my family” when senior CLC lawyer James Nugent – “a non Indigenous employee” – had called for “my instant resignation in front of 89 members that voted me in at Tennant Creek to be the CLC [chairman] for [the] next three years”.
Mr Ryan told Sen Scullion he is worried about the CLC administration putting information before members who “cannot read, write or have an understanding of words that are not in their vocabulary. There needs to be interpreters used at every meeting”.
Mr Ryan calls on Sen Scullion to “investigate [the] Aboriginal Mafia of Alice Springs” and asked him also to look into a string of local businesses and organisations which have Aboriginal connections.
Mr Ryan further suggested some money from the Aboriginal Benefit Account (ABA) is “missing” and he nominates a very considerable figure.
Mr Ryan wrote about CEO David Ross: “How many organisations is he [a] committed [sic] member in Alice Springs – conflict of interest?
“There has to be separation of powers between the full Land Council Executive, ABA members, Chair & Deputy from the administration.”
The chairperson should be kept in the loop with politicians, mining companies and pastoralists, and companies part-owned by Centrecorp.
[The Alice Springs News Online has requested, via the CLC Media office, comment from Mr Nugent and Mr Ross.]