Joint Media Release with South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Hon Kyam Maher MLC
The South Australian Government will review the Mintabie Township Lease Agreement in partnership with Anangu Pitjantatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and the Federal Government.
As part of the review, the State Government will consider returning ownership and management of Mintabie, which is located on the APY Lands, to the traditional owners.
The review follows Federal Court findings Nobby’s Mintabie General Store operator Lindsay Kobelt engaged in credit activity which contravened the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth).
Following the Federal Court findings, the State Government has cancelled Mr Kobelt’s commercial licence, meaning that his store can no longer trade.
His application for a residential licence is also under consideration by the State Government.
In conjunction with the review of the Mintabie Township Lease Agreement, a $300,000 State Government grant has been given to MoneyMob Talkabout to increase its ability to provide Anangu with access to financial counselling services and connect those seeking credit with an accredited provider.
This funding announcement will enable MoneyMob to deliver more extensive financial literacy education to local Aboriginal people and increase the number of no interest loans delivered on the APY Lands.
The program will be focussed on the APY Lands with outreach extended to other communities, including Oodnadatta.
MoneyMob Talkabout is an accredited provider of no interest loans through not-for-profit agency Good Shepherd Microfinance.
The agreement with MoneyMob means local people can access fair credit options. It will also allow them to address other financial issues such as superannuation, paying fines or dealing with Centrelink payment issues.
Mintabie is an opal mining town located 1000 kilometres north of Adelaide within the APY Lands.
Book up is an informal type of credit in remote and regional communities. In Mintabie, book up has included shop owners taking and withholding credit and benefit cards from Anangu.
The Federal Court found Mr Kobelt’s behaviour was unconscionable and that he withdrew almost $1m from customers’ accounts over a period of around 18 months, including $56,944 in one 24 hour period. On April 13, Mr Kobelt was ordered to pay $167,500 in penalties.
Quotes attributable to Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Kyam Maher
The Federal Court’s findings against Mr Kobelt send a very clear message to any operators who are engaging in unethical and predatory book up practices that they may be penalised.
The practices outlined in the Federal Court decision are disgraceful and cannot be tolerated.
The Government has cancelled the commercial license of Nobby’s Mintabie General Store, which means it can no longer trade.
In light of the judgment and penalties handed down, the State Government is reviewing Mintabie’s lease arrangements and will consider the transfer of the township to APY.
Right across the APY Lands, individuals, organisations and services providers have told the Government that trading practices detrimental to Anangu need to be changed.
It is important that people living in remote communities have access to fair forms of credit and this is why we have engaged MoneyMob Talkabout to provide No Interest Loans as well as financial counselling.
This funding will have flow on benefits to Aboriginal people living on the APY Lands, ensuring that families are not locked into prolonged dependence on unlicensed credit providers engaging in unconscionable business practices.
Quotes attributable to Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion
The Commonwealth is pleased to see action against unscrupulous book up practices in the APY Lands.
For too long, book up practices which take advantage of the poverty of Indigenous Australians have been allowed to continue and I welcome this much needed action by Minister Maher.
I am keen to see Mintabie owned and controlled by local traditional owners, and it is important that the South Australian Government works in partnership with the Commonwealth and the local community to deliver longer term reforms.
Quotes attributable to Member for Giles Eddie Hughes
This announcement is an important step towards improving the lives of people living on the APY Lands, by putting an end to unscrupulous trade practices which take advantage of Aboriginal people and force them into a cycle of debt.
By giving them access to fair and safe forms of credit, while providing counselling to improve financial literacy, the State Government is continuing its work improving outcomes for Anangu.