Such is the poor leadership shown by this terrible Labor government, Aboriginal statutory authorities are openly defying Minister Jenny Macklin by not paying traditional owners for government leases over Aboriginal land, the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion said in Senate Estimates today.
“The Northern Territory Valuer-General set the rent traditional owners would be paid for town leases, and the government has given the money to the Northern and Central Land Councils to distribute to the traditional owners, but the Councils are refusing to perform their function and distribute the money,” Senator Scullion said.
“The rent amounts were set by the independent Northern Territory Valuer-General, and it is not up to the land councils to withhold this money from their own people, just because they may think it is not enough.
This outrageous situation was revealed in the recent Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report and represents clear and unequivocal proof that the Labor government have lost control of Indigenous policy.
“The land councils do not set policy – they implement it as they are directed by government.
“This stalemate has been going on since 25 May 2010 and it is clearly unacceptable.
“Minister Macklin must show some leadership and exercise her ministerial responsibilities to ensure these rent payments make it to the traditional owners.
“The land councils can argue for more money but they cannot be allowed to continue to openly defy ministerial direction.
“The land councils are now earning interest and essentially creating a slush fund they have no right to hold,” said Senator Scullion.
“The government may have put town leases on the backburner, putting it in the too hard basket like much of their Indigenous policies and programs, but that is no excuse to let the land councils run roughshod over them.
“If this standoff continues with the Land Councils continuing to defy Minister Macklin’s authority, then clearly the position of either the minister or the land council is untenable.
“Minister Macklin must immediately exercise the necessary authority and direct the Land Councils to do their job and pass on the money to the traditional owners, or the damage to her credibility will be terminal,” Senator Scullion said.
Media Contact: Russel Guse 0438 685 645
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Northern Territory land councils in open defiance of Minister Macklin.pdf