Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Statements by Members
Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council
I rise today to convey my continued support for the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council in my electorate. The Darkinjung are a proud people who have been working towards self-reliance, but they were unfairly targeted by the New South Wales state Labor government when it decided to appoint an administrator over the land council. The administrator was appointed by the disgraced former state minister for Aboriginal affairs, Milton Orkopoulos, under the guise of concern over their financial situation. Mr Peter Hillig, a mate of Orkopoulos and state Labor, is bleeding the funds dry.
A few years ago the Darkinjung land council contracted for a sale of land for $42 million in two lump sums. They set up trusts to create a number of companies to provide ongoing community support for their local people. Through hard work, some good fortune, astute investment and excellent management, they were able to become independent of government grants and move away from welfarism to become a model of self-determination. The Darkinjung people have shown they are able to successfully operate a diverse range of innovative programs, including the establishment of a funeral fund and a housing scheme, as well as investing in a cattle company. This cattle company sold more than $1 million worth of cattle a year to Japan and was in the process of negotiating contracts with Canada and North Korea. However, the New South Wales state Labor government’s interference and the decision to take over the land council has caused these vital initiatives to cease, with the administrator freezing assets, and now he is actually conducting a fire sale.
The state member for Terrigal and I have been meeting with the representatives of the Darkinjung because we are deeply concerned by the damage state Labor is doing to the local Aboriginal group. State Labor is quickly reducing the Darkinjung land council from a financially independent, multimillion-dollar corporation to a debt ridden organisation surviving hand to mouth on New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council funding. The local Aboriginal land council is premised on helping people to help themselves, but the Labor state government is penalising it for delivering this independence. The former state minister for Aboriginal affairs justified his decision to appoint an administrator by stating that it was in the best interests of Darkinjung.
I call on the New South Wales state government to conduct an inquiry into this matter. The Premier needs to get involved because some of his cronies and hangers-on are really causing heartache for these people. Considering that the former state minister for Aboriginal affairs is currently facing 36 child sex and drug charges, his decision to appoint an administrator over Darkinjung must be reassessed as a priority. They are bleeding the funds dry, and they are destroying the bloodline of the cattle that had been built up over 20 years to produce the high-quality beef that was able to be sold internationally. The cattle are now being put to market and sold for hamburger mince. It is an absolute disgrace. I call on Morris Iemma to get in there and sort it out. (Time expired)