By ERWIN CHLANDA
Do people receiving mining royalties, whose distribution creates high points in the lives of local used car salesmen, have their Centrelink payments canceled or suspended?
Aboriginal royalty associations have accumulated funds in the tens of millions, and are linked to the Central Land Council’s secretive investment company Centrecorp, a target for reform of the re-elected chairman Maurie Ryan.
“If a person earns money by working, or from other sources, they need to talk to the Department [of Human Services] to find out how their income will affect their Centrelink payment,” according to General Manager Hank Jongen.
He says his department “has one of the most sophisticated electronic data-matching systems in Australia, and it continuously matches customer records and data with a large number of external agencies, including the Australian Taxation Office”.
But in the next breath he reveals that the department “does not keep data regarding the cancellation or suspension of Centrelink payments as a result of mining royalties”.
Why not? Are they data-matching with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations which lists the names and addresses of the directors and members of royalty associations?
One association in The Centre, the Granites Mine Affected Area Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC), has 17 directors and 748 members in the fiscal year ending June 2013. Their details are on the public record.
These people are not dealing with peanuts, either. In 2013 GMAAAC had an income of $773,706. In 2012 it was $3.3m.
In 2013 it had accumulated funds of $26.2m. “Cash flows from investing activities” was $748,748 and $840,581, respectively.
The “traditional owners distribution” amounted to $1.2m in 2013 and to $2.5m in 2012 – amounts that are clearly personal income.
Another royalty association in The Centre, Kurra, had accumulated funds of $44m in 2013, including $24.6m in “investments in property units” and $7.9m in “investment property”.
“Traditional owner distribution” in 2013 amounted to $3.2m.
It’s noteworthy that “expenditure on community projects” in 2013 was zero, compared to $267,212 in 2012 – a very modest sum compared to what the traditional owners pocketed.
GMAAAC has recently set up a committee consulting with communities in its area about projects they want tackled.
According the Central Land Council website, examples are GMAAAC’s helping the Yuendumu Women’s Centre to set up its popular op-shop and start a bush plants garden, creating local jobs in the process. The op-shop plans to branch out into second hand furniture next.
Aid also goes to the youth development and leadership program of the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC), Jaru Pirrjirdi, started in 2003. GMAAAC also has followed Kurra’s lead and put $78,000 towards the Lajamanu Dialysis Project.
PHOTO: Part of the Granites mine north-west of Alice Springs, source of millions in mining royalties.
Can you get mining royalties plus the dole?
By ERWIN CHLANDA