By ERWIN CHLANDA
Central Land Council chairman Maurie Ryan says he will demand a Federal Government enquiry into the council, and sue to maintain his position, so he can continue his mission for transparency of multi-million dollar property deals and the management of the statutory body representing 24,000 Aboriginal people.
Left: Maurie Ryan (middle) with supporters in a previous leadership tussle, Marie Elena Ellis and Frank Ansell. Photo from our archive.
He says his suspension notice as a delegate of the CLC, issued by the executive, does not amount to his sacking which can only be ordered by the full council, which is due to meet soon.
He has been told that Deputy Chairman Francis Kelly from Yuendumu will take over.
In a letter “left in my mail box” Mr Ryan was given deadlines for vacating his flat and surrendering his office car.
“I tried to open up the land council and all its activities. It’s been unaccountable for 30 years.
“I did not say anything to the media” in contravention of a full council ruling in Tennant Creek last month “until the land council had put it into the Darwin newspaper and the ABC.” The ABC later apologised about wrongly claiming Mr Ryan had been stood aside at the meeting.
Mr Ryan says the CLC has been a “closed organisation” and information on major investments has been withheld from the members, including “some of the most disadvantaged”. He says the investments include stakes in Yeperenye, Centrecorp, Centrefarm, Peter Kittle Motor Company, the Chifley hotel, Mitre 10, a real estate agent, and the three IGA supermarkets.
Mr Ryan says the shares in Centrecorp are worth a dollar each: “You couldn’t buy an object in Yeperenye for a dollar. The assets are worth millions and millions of dollars. Where have the dividends gone?”
All I’m trying to do is give information to the 24,000 Aborigines the CLC represents.”
“Yesterday I attended the funeral of my mentor, Mr Kumanjayi Bookie. He was a great man who was trying to do what I am doing.
“I am waiting for a full land council meeting which has the authority [to sack the chairman] – the executive does not have.
“It is easy to manipulate people who cannot read and write and understand the English vocabulary. They have been doing it for years.
“I am trying to undo 30 years of damage by the ‘magnificent seven’ … along with the bourgeois half-caste Aborigines of Alice Springs. It’s terminology I don’t like using but that’s the reality.
“There needs to be an urgent enquiry by the Federal Government. There needs to be an urgent meeting called by the members of the council for accountability and it needs to be done in this town, not out bush, away from everybody.”
“I believe in honesty, and by shutting me down information is suspended. I have nothing to lose. My Reputation is in tatters, and I am going to sue. I am sick of how I am being treated.”
Mr Ryan says the management by the CLC of 10 pastoral stations also needs to be examined: “They have gone almost broke because of people who are incompetent.”
There are “a lot of white-anters” in Aboriginal organisations and there has been no training of Aboriginal people for positions such as policy officer, general manager, legal service and environmentalists.
Economic development has been stagnant, while a small elite has profited from this “while the masses are dirt poor. Look at the evidence in town camps – it is an indictment of the Federal and Territory governments”.
Mr Ryan says there need to be trained interpreters at the next full council meeting: “I will take the decision of the full land council after I have spoken, without the presence of any of those lawyers or the administration.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA