By ERWIN CHLANDA
The saga about the unpaid debts of the Mbantua Festival is continuing with a statement from Neville Perkins (pictured) issued last week.
We delayed publication of that statement to give right of reply to artistic co-director Rachel Perkins and the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC), both under attack from Mr Perkins in his statement.
Ms Perkins, according to a statement from her, is one of 42 creditors owed a total of more than a quarter of a million dollars.
We emailed Mr Perkins, saying in part: “We have written many stories praising the Mbantua Festival, and others dealing with the financial situation in its wake.
“When we reported negative aspects we tried to make contact to offer the right of reply, ahead of publication, but mostly we received no response, and when we did, we published it.
“This may also be a good opportunity for you to make it clear, for publication, when creditors of the festival can expect to be paid.”
Mr Perkins did not do so.
ORIC replied that it would make no comment, and Ms Perkins’ reply is published below Mr Perkins’ statement.
This is his statement, published in full:–
“Unfortunately, the 13 August 2014 edition of Alice Springs News Online has published unsubstantiated, untrue and damaging allegations about Arrulka Business Aboriginal Corporation (ABAC), based upon a fundamentally flawed notice published online by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) on 16 May 2014, which also contained unsubstantiated, untrue and damaging allegations about ABAC.
“We trust you will now publish in full our response, including the following facts, to your recent report.
“1. ABAC is not a firm. ABAC is an Indigenous Corporation, which had auspiced and sponsored the first Mbantua Festival held in Alice Springs in October last year.
“2. ABAC does not have “50 creditors” and there is no representative known to ABAC to be officially representing “50 creditors”.
“3. ABAC had ceased trading in January this year and has never been trading insolvent.
“4. No ABAC director “was appointed improperly”.
“5. All ABAC payments have been approved by directors.
“6. No “improper cash withdrawals were made” by ABAC directors using ATM’s and no “improper cash withdrawals” have been made by any ABAC director amounting to “$75,440”.
“7. ABAC has the “documentation of payments to Aboriginal dancers” and ORIC had not bothered to seek from ABAC or to investigate this documentation.
“8. ABAC directors have ensured that the required audited financial statements for the 2013 financial year were provided to ORIC and to funding bodies. ABAC has also endeavoured to prepare quarterly financial statements for funding and other appropriate bodies, with the assistance of ABAC accountants.
“Unfortunately, ORIC has not been helpful, despite its rhetoric on its website about being there “to help” Indigenous Corporations. ORIC has not only got it wrong about ABAC on a number of things, it has also published online incorrect and inaccurate information that has been damaging to ABAC and its directors.
“We have asked ORIC to correct and remedy its flawed notice of 16 May 2014. We are also considering other appropriate action to address the damage to ABAC and its directors, including legal action.
“For your information and your readers, Rachel Perkins (pictured) has much to answer for as a co-director of the Mbantua Festival and she has been subject to legal action to do with a number of quite serious breaches of her contract. She exists in a glass house and she should know better than to throw stones at the wrong people.
“Contrary to the caption under the picture in your 13 August edition, the real creative producer and director of the great “Bungalow Song” of the Mbantua Festival was indeed the Festival co-director, Nigel Jamieson, who did the hard work in directing and producing a great “Bungalow Song” show, and who should be credited as such.
“Finally, we would appreciate an appropriate apology from Alice Springs News Online published online.”
Rachel Perkins’ solicitor, Reaymond McGuinness, replied:–
“Dear Mr Chlanda
“I act for Rachel Perkins. I have been provided with a copy of your email to Rachel Perkins dated 15 September.
“I also act for a group of 42 (substantially indigenous) creditors of Arrulka Business Aboriginal Corporation (ABAC), with debts that are worth approximately $265,626.00.
“Those debts relate to the Mbantua Festival. I wrote to the directors of ABAC on 4 April outlining the claims of my clients. The letters were sent to the registered business address of ABAC.
“The letters were returned to me unopened, with the words “Not here” handwritten on them. The letters were also emailed to the personal emails of the directors of ABAC.
“Neither I or any of my clients have received any response from ABAC to those letters.
“I am unaware of any “legal action” against Rachel Perkins by ABAC or any other person.
“I am aware that Ms Perkins has spent a substantial amount of her own time and money trying to assist the creditors of ABAC.
“I also act for Nigel Jamieson. Mr Jamieson remains unpaid by a company called All The Perks Pty Limited.
“Since May of this year, I have been corresponding with ORIC about ABAC on behalf of my clients. In response to my client’s concerns, ORIC have stated that my clients should commence their own Court proceedings.
“It is my firm view that ORIC has not taken satisfactory steps to deal with apparent breaches of the Corporations Act by ABAC and its officeholders, many (but not all) of which are identified in ORIC’s report on ABAC.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA