Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion has uncovered a ploy by a major Australian Government Corporation, the Indigenous Land Incorporation (ILC), to circumvent the act under which they are governed.
“With the backing of Minister Jenny Macklin’s department and I assume with her knowledge, the ploy involved the resignation of the acting CEO of the ILC Bruce Gemmel a few weeks before the end of his six month term. He was then re-hired a few weeks later for a further six months. All this to get around the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Act (ATSI) Act,” Senator Scullion said of what he discovered during Senate Estimates today.
“The ATSI Act requires that acting appointments for the CEO be no more than six months and the process around the resignation and re-appointment of Mr Gemmel was done in such a way to get around that provision of the Act.
“In the period between his resignation and re-instatement Mr Gemmel continued to use his ILC phone, kept his keys to the office, was not removed from the ILC email list and he even chaired a corporate management meeting in Adelaide – all while he was no longer an employee of ILC.
“The house of cards tumbled down when Mr Gemmel admitted to this because he said he had an expectation that he would get reappointed.
“Amazingly Minister Macklin’s department, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) said there was no scandal here.
“The Act that governs the ILC is meant to protect a publicly-funded multi-million concern. The Department and the Government in this case, being involved circumventing that act.
“The Department said it had legal advice and I would like to know if the ILC Board had access to that legal advice when it was developing this ploy to avoid the requirements of the Act.
“It seems that in the Minister’s view it is quite legitimate to find ways to avoid the law,” Senator Scullion said.
Download media release:
ILC CEO release.pdf