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HomeIssue 33Mbantua Fest: statement from Perkins, no news on debt payment

Mbantua Fest: statement from Perkins, no news on debt payment

p2050-Neville-Perkins-1By 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.
p2110-Rachel-Perkins“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.”


  1. Rachel Perkins seemed to be a face that I saw everywhere at the Mbantua Festival working so tirelessly to make it a success. She was courteous and caring towards the Arrernte elders at the festival and deserves gratitude and recognition for the fabulous work she did. Congratulations Rachel on your part in the festival.
    Marg from Alice.

  2. This ongoing saga is a disgrace to all of the suppliers, performers and staff who worked tirelessly to make this a success.

  3. I assume Mr Perkins is accusing ORIC of misrepresenting the truth? If I owed people so much money, I wouldn’t be walking around proudly looking for technicalities with which to fire at other people. Accept responsibility Mr Perkins and cough up the money that you owe everyone. You can’t walk away from this!

  4. Shame on Neville Perkins. This is a shameful arrogance towards people who put their best foot forward for the festival and are repaid with debt and unpaid invoices. Where did the money go?

  5. Great to finally hear from the organisers about this great event, and their side to set the record straight.
    Neville Perkins and others worked very hard on this event. From what I understand most of the suppliers have been paid.
    Various people I have spoken to had an excellent experience, and as a volunteer the experience I had was a rewarding one.

  6. I worked on this event and have been paid, and as have most other people.
    If you were not paid, perhaps you were not bonafide suppliers. Congratulations Mr Perkins for sharing your side of the story, and setting the record straight.

  7. Funding should have been provided by the NT Government to assist … It was key ministers that completed walked away and funding commitments were not met, similar to what they have always done when it comes to Alice Springs.

  8. JLO, Joel Harris, You have have had the wool pulled over your eyes.
    Many people have been hurt financially by this event. Yes, the event was great – but at what cost.
    I am an unpaid creditor (not my real name), and I know many more.

  9. Mate whoever you are, there are countless more organisations, suppliers, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people who benefited from this event financially, and from a community development process, capacity building wise, and overall.
    Close to $2.3m was invested.
    These projects and models are very difficult to deliver in remote and expensive locations. [Maybe] the wrong people were contracted, and mismanaged the budget.

  10. @ Joel Harris: At the end of the day Neville Perkins and his organisers are responsible for the payment to creditors. I know of many businesses and organisations still waiting on payment.
    Maybe if you were owed money and were financially affected you may have a different point of view. Yes the event was very entertaining and it was good to see the community coming together. It’s just a pity that ALL the hard workers haven’t been paid.
    If it was managed properly we wouldn’t be having this conversation, we would be talking about when is the next one.
    Unfortunately for Alice Springs that won’t be the case, as a lot of people have been stung by this bad experience won’t be looking to help out a similar event in the future.

  11. When a businessman and his partners decide to hold an Aboriginal cultural festival on Mparmtwe and call it the Mparntwe Cultural Festival and don’t think to pay the common decency of consulting with the senior custodians belonging to Mparntwe until the last minute, its looking like a rip off right from the start.
    I know quite a few people waiting for payment for work on the festival.
    They are not the only ones feeling ripped off. I am glad I didn’t get involved in working for this mob.

  12. The company I work for is still owed many thousands of dollars for this event. And to rub salt into the wound we also gave a substantial discount as a show of support for such an event.
    They have had to now say no to other “festivals” or cultural endeavors that may be coming up in the future due to the debt caused by mismanagement.
    It has not given my bosses any confidence in helping support these sort of events again.
    The excuses of Mr Perkins don’t even mention the strife they have left many companies in by not honoring his commitment.
    Simply pay what you owe and restore some faith in town for any other events that need locals to support them.
    Not sure where some people get off saying @ Joel Harris “as far as I know most people have been paid”.
    I’m really glad this event did not cost you thousands of hard earned money. It did us. Never again.

  13. In 2023 I remain an unpaid creditor of about $1700. My role was to cook and supply meals to the cast rehearsing for the Bungalow Song.
    Apart from my time the cost to me for the meal ingredients was probably around $500.
    I was (and remain) happy to donate the ingredients to a very worthy cause, meals for the young people who performed the Bungalow Song. Best wishes.


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