Cut mining royalties to land councils: elder


2499 Robin Granites OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Senior Warlpiri man Robin Granites (pictured), a prominent elder of Yuendumu,  says that the practice of paying part of mining royalties to the land councils should be stopped: That money should also go to the people on whose land the mines are located.
“Why should they get a fee? They don’t lift a finger for us,” he says.
In a letter to Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, chairman of the Central Land Council (CLC), who also lives in Yuendumu, Mr Granites says: “Aboriginal Society is suffering from ever increasing control and marginalisation. We are no longer in charge of our own land, communities and future. We feel we no longer own our land.
“The land councils have to some extent been complicit in this disempowerment.
“We are the ones who know about our own country, our communities and our needs and aspirations.”
Mr Granites says that letter has not received due attention by the CLC. Request from the authors, “about 10” people, to raise issues at meetings at Tennant Creek and Ross River of the 90 directors have been denied.
He says “white fellers” at the CLC – lawyers, anthropologists, administration  – “they think they are the bosses”.
Says Mr Granites: “They can go out any time they like, pick up anyone they like for meetings.
“They get about $300, $400 for a two day trip.
“People out there at Yuendumu want to do their business as well.”
Mining applications are amongst the issues dealt with in that way but they should be discussed by the full CLC council of 90 elected delegates, he says: “They are the bosses” and are the right people to give or deny approvals.
p2242-1721-Granites-mine-2The Newmont gold mine at The Granites (pictured) is north-west of Yuendumu and a major source of royalties.
These general council meetings should be a forum for “problems out in the communities. It can’t be brought out because they keep it for themselves.
“We want to ask them, what do you know about what’s going on? They don’t tell us anything.”
The group wanted CLC director David Ross to read out their letter at the full meetings at Ross River and Tennant Creek.
“Yes, I have the letter but it is in the office back in Alice Springs,” is what Mr Granites said the group was told by Mr Ross. All they are getting are excuses, he says. “We don’t really know what’s happening.”
The letter says: “We wish to discuss these matters with Council members to seek ways in which we can be better informed on CLC financial and operational matters, and also have a greater meaningful input in land council matters which affect our lives.”
The CLC says on its website: “Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act the CLC deposits all income from the use of Aboriginal land, for example from mining, pastoralism and community leasing, as well as compensation and other payments in the Land Use Trust Account and distributes it to Aboriginal associations.
“The CLC is not allowed to use any money from this account for its operations and can only spend it after the council or executive committee [elected from the 90 members] have passed a resolution.
“After the CLC transfers money from the Land Use Trust Account to Aboriginal associations it no longer controls the money. However, it continues to play an important support role. It administers many associations and helps them to distribute their money to individuals or to invest it in community driven projects.”
The Alice Springs News Online is requesting comment from the CLC.


  1. What a load of rubbish. It is time you start spending royalties more wisely, like your own housing costs, hygiene, stop being so reliant on government welfare, and perhaps start paying tax on royalty income, instead of wasting it on cars, booze and cigarettes.

  2. The CLC gets a lot more than published mining royalties.
    Take gas and fracking advocate company Central Petroleum.
    They recently bought six 200 series Landcruisers for a whopping $600,000 from CLC part owned Peter Kittles.
    No discounts there.

  3. @ Peter: Did they really need them? It’s really easy when you are spending someone else’s money. But that’s OK, government funding keeps coming in. What a joke.
    You and I are paying for it.

  4. Mr Granites has a point about CLC behaviour. Anyone who may challenge CLC they way Mr Granites says they did in reference to the letter they sent to the CLC Chairman, are just ignored.
    Also minutes from CLC meetings are a rare thing, or at least never seen.

  5. Hey Philistine, can you explain to me how Central Petroleum is “spending someone else’s money” namely yours and Peter’s, in buying Land Cruisers?
    Are you sure “Government money keeps coming in” for Central Petroleum to buy Land Cruisers? You might want to check your facts before your next rant.
    Maybe you’d prefer Central Petroleum to buy Land Cruisers interstate and not locally.

  6. @ Davo: No-one us ranting. They could have bought the Landcruisers for $10k cheaper down south. That would have been a saving of $60k.

  7. 200 series Cruisers are not the usual mining company vehicle. I’ve never seen one at Newman for example.
    They use troop carriers mainly.
    So why would Central Petroleum be buying six 200 series?
    They likely went to traditional owners, while also providing $$ to the CLC.
    It’s the way the frackers do business with the gatekeepers.

  8. How about all the Aboriginal organisations revolt and force David Ross to step down as director from CLC and put Frances Kelly in his place, then change the rules.
    Stop sopping up all the royalties and get them paid direct to the communities to help pay all the expenses and create a fund for betterment and improvement of living conditions for the community to be controlled by that community.
    The CLC should just concentrate on what it was created for, administration and management of Aboriginal lands and their legal issues.

  9. Intrigued to see the recent ad for a newly created executive management role at the CLC, which had no defined position description nor published salary. Quite extraordinary.


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