Senator Nigel Scullion, Lingiari CLP candidate Tina MacFarlane and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in an Alice Springs media scrum today, announcing a $2.36m extension to St John Ambulance NT to help build a training and volunteer centre. Coincidentally, the first Finke casualty was taken to the hospital today by St John – a bike rider who’d gone over the handlebars.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Indigenous community of Mutitjulu will stay and is set to grow despite the principal reason for building Yulara, in the 1970s, now known as the Ayers Rock Resort, was to move facilities out of the national park and to return the disturbed area to its former pristine glory.
We put to Senator Nigel Scullion today that the Everingham CLP Government spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for those reasons, yet there are now 100 buildings in close proximity to The Rock, and 20 more are due.
Said Senator Scullion: “I wasn’t around in Everingham’s days so I can’t comment on the motivations of governments at that time.
“There are 100 buildings. There is a township called Mutitjulu, and the overcrowding is leading to particular issues.
“So we have to add more houses. We’re providing 20 more houses which is part of a $350m contribution that the Commonwealth is making with the NT Government to ensure we’re alleviating these circumstances.”
Asked about disclosures of investigations into theft and corruption in Aboriginal communities in last night’s Four Corners (ABC TV), and why the government was paying public money to Aboriginal organisations incapable of proper management, Senator Scullion said: “It’s called self-determination.”
We asked him what happens to public servants who write the cheques for money that gets misappropriated, Senator Scullion said: “Public servants don’t write the cheques. I write them.
“And I take those matters very seriously, which is why I have instigated the significant changes through the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations to ensure that all of the alleged offences, and other offences, are investigated.
“Allegations need to be investigated. Not all of them require prosecution. [We] need to create an environment where people will know that this isn’t an easy place to get away with criminal behaviour, just because it’s a Indigenous community.
“The introduction of independent board members has made a significant change. They bring a lot of experience to the board. Invariably they are the ones the non-indigenous CEO simply can’t get around.”
He said non-indigenous people stealing from Aboriginal people “has been going on far too long”.
A policy advisor to Senator Scullion, traveling with him, says the Ayers Rock Resort is trading at a profit. During the Global Financial Crisis its estimated value dropped to $200m but it is now around $250m. It was bought by the Indigenous Land Corporation for $292m.