Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Questions without Notice
Indigenous Land Corporation
My question is to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Scullion. I refer to yesterday's statement by the minister that he made no direction to the Indigenous Land Corporation to change its 2014-15 annual report, and had no conversations about delaying tabling until changes were made. I also refer to notes prepared for the new ILC chair, Mr Fry, ahead of an ILC board meeting which state that the minister said he would 'not consent to table the report while these inaccuracies stand.' Which statement is correct?
Senator, I thank you for the question. I did not refuse to lodge the annual report under the circumstances that your question would indicate. Perhaps, if you are looking through the FOI documents, I might point you to document No. 8. You will see in it that it says the minister has no authority to approve the annual report as the ILC is independent of government; he can only do that by issuing a general direction under the ATSI Act. And I—
Well, we have these interjections from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I have spoken very clearly about this matter lately, in a statement on the record. I pointed you to the statement yesterday. At no time did I refuse. The documents that they are selectively quoting from were documents between ILC individuals. I have had no knowledge of those. I did not at any time refuse to table the ILC report, nor did I have the authority to do so.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to the minister's statement yesterday:
We did not ask the board or the chair to amend anything.
I also refer to a 2016 ILC board briefing paper which states that the minister's office advised, 'The minister will not agree to table the ILC annual report 2014-2015 in its current form.' Which statement is correct?
At no time did I ask the ILC to amend the report. I did ask the ILC—I brought to their attention—about significant inaccuracies both by omission and statement in the report. That is what I did, and I have to say congratulations to the ILC for neither redacting any of the report but for adding information that very importantly put the context for people who receive and read such reports, to ensure that those inaccuracies were ameliorated by facts.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer to the minister's public statement:
What I did was ask the ILC Board to consider responding to factual inaccuracies in the statement from the former Chair contained in the annual report.
If the minister did not intervene in the tabling of the ILC's annual report, why was it delivered six months' late and in breach of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013?
The amount of time that passed between my reference to the ILC about some inaccuracies in the report and them returning the report to me took the vast amount of that time. As soon as I received their report I tabled it.