The NT News has today implied that the Minister for Indigenous Affairs lied about being on a plane last Thursday morning, 11 December 2014, in order to attend a Northern Land Council (NLC) meeting.
The Minister categorically rejects that implication.
The Minister spoke directly to the newspaper on Friday 12 December 2014 and confirmed that he was on a charter aircraft that left Darwin early on Thursday morning 11 December, which had to return to Darwin soon after take-off due to a technical problem.
Whilst it was initially thought the problem would be quickly rectified, this proved not to be the case and the Minister was forced to cancel his attendance. The Minister regularly uses the airline for charter flights in the NT and the company has served him well. As demonstrated by last week’s incident, the company always ensures the safety of its passengers.
The Minister’s office provided the newspaper, at its request, with written confirmation from the charter company that he was on the flight. The newspaper gave the Minister a commitment not to name the airline, reflecting the Minister’s desire not to embarrass the airline.
The newspaper has repeatedly sought from the Minister’s office a ‘flight plan’ and been advised that the office, as a client of the airline does not have a ‘flight plan’ nor does it ever receive such documents for charter bookings.
The Minister specifically returned to Darwin from Canberra late on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 in order to attend the NLC meeting.
The Minister has attended the last three full NLC meetings, the last two as Minister and in May 2013 as Shadow Minister. This is a much stronger record of attendance than that of previous Ministers.
As the NT News was aware, the Minister had a flight to Sydney scheduled out of Darwin later that morning to allow him to attend a Recognise event in support of constitutional recognition of First Australians.
Download media release:
2014-12-18 Statement regarding NT News Thursday 18 December 2014.pdf