EXCLUSIVE by ERWIN CHLANDA
A new scandal embroiling the local native title organisation Lehere Artepe has come to light with the leaking of a letter from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC).
Peter Armstrong, the manager of its Regulation Section, points to a string of irregularities earlier this year and in late 2015.
He refers to decisions Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC) made without having the right to do so, and the suspension of five members for two years because they have “misbehaved in such a manner that as left this corporation inoperative”.
The sacking decision, announced on April 16 to “all Native Title Holders as Members” was signed, as chairperson, by Rosalie Kunoth-Monks (pictured at top, red dress), a nationally known activist and former actress playing Jedda.
Ms Kunoth-Monks, who lived in Utopia north-east of Alice Springs, was told by community members in May that she was no longer welcome there.
Other signatories were Matthew Palmer and Felicity Hayes.
Says Mr Armstrong: “My view is that the purported decisions set out in the document are not binding on LAAC” nor the Antulye, Irlpme and Mparntwe Corporations – the three moieties making up LAAC.
He says his view is that the directors and members were offered corporation specific governance training “when the special administrations ended on 30 June 2014, however the offers were not taken up at that time”.
Mr Armstrong takes LAAC to task for arranging meetings without being entitled to do so, reinstating an executive officer and making other decisions meetings whilst not being authorised to make those decisions. These included appointing alternate directors and directors of LAE Pty Ltd, a commercial arm of Lhere Artepe which part-owns the three IGA supermarkets.
“Minutes do not record that the chair of the meeting informed those present who were not directors of the corporation that they did not have voting rights at this meeting,” says Mr Armstrong, with reference to one meeting.
“I repeat my earlier advice that LAAC does not have the authority under its rules to call formal meetings for other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island Corporations registered under the CATSI Act.”
ORIC’s current membership list of LAAC names the following: The Antulye, Irlpme and Mparntwe Corporations, and individuals Michael Campbell, Lynette Ellis-Ross, Felicity Hayes, Noel Kruger, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Micah-Jo Laughton, Matthew Palmer, Marilyn Smith and Brian Stirling.
Two of them, Marilyn Smith and Noel Kruger, are on the list of people whom LAAC purported to be suspending for two years.
The Alice Springs News Online is seeking comment from Lhere Artepe and ORIC.
UPDATE September 22, 8:20am
ORIC provided the following statement:
Thank you for your inquiry about Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation.
The information you seek is protected information under Division 604 of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006. Therefore we are unable to assist you.
If we take regulatory action in relation to a corporation that action is always disclosed on our website, www.oric.gov.au. Searches on our website are free of charge.
Any queries you may have about a corporation should be directed to the corporation or its directors.