The time-worn adage ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ resonates well within the Aboriginal industry in 2013.
The incoming Liberal Party Government plans to establish yet another advisory group initiated by indigenous leader Noel Pearson to investigate how to get the industry to work and how to get the hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants onto the ground with a sweeping new agenda.
Not in the context of streamlining the huge dysfunctional Aboriginal bureaucracies and consultancies drip feeding from hand outs to communities but how to get the many thousands of recipients of government ‘sit down’ money around the nation into meaningful work.
For decades well-intentioned governments, against expert advice have thrown billions into a myriad of nice and fuzzy, feel good, social engineering schemes now resulting in no jobs, chronic alcoholism, illicit drug abuse, dislocation and homelessness seen in almost every community and city in the state.
Last week Opposition Leader Tony Abbott committed $5 million to develop the plan but community leaders remain steadfastly opposed to Noel Pearson being involved in their business dealings.
Chairman of the Bamaga People Indigenous Corporation John Tabuai has labeled
the 25 page blueprint ‘Empowered Communities’ devised by Noel Pearson, as intrusive and not wanted by his community.
“We are 101 per cent against such a plan and we have legal obligations to run our own affairs,” Mr Tabuai told Cairns News.
He said Noel Pearson does not represent the majority of people on Cape York or the Torres Strait and his company, the Cape York Institute should not be involved in their business.
“Noel Pearson should have consulted with our traditional owners and giving people from here input before giving this plan to the government.”
A blanket land claim over Cape York Peninsula, which takes in DOGIT (Deed of Grant in Trust) land registered to the Bamaga People has been lodged in the Federal Court by a group allegedly backed by the Cape York Land Council
This claim and media reports that Noel Pearson will become a personal advisor to Tony Abbott is causing much angst among the Bamaga community.
Cape York Institute
Noel Pearson, his brother Gerhardt and Richie Ahmat, a director of another similar company, Balkanu, are listed with ASIC as directors of the Cape York Institute for Leadership.
The Pearsons have the game sewn up.
A scathing 2005 financial report on Cape York Land Council by auditors Acumen Alliance revealed misappropriation of government grant money and other irregularities forcing its then Chairman, Richie Ahmat to stand down.
Cairns News has a copy of the full report.
The Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the then Howard Government, Amanda Vanstone, took no action against the CYLC board in spite of the auditors recommendations.
Richie Ahmat is the present chairman of Cape York Land Council.
The brother’s dominance of Cape York indigenous affairs over many years has not gone unnoticed by disaffected community leaders across the length and breadth of the Peninsula.
Allegations of the Pearsons interference in the domestic dealings of many tribal groups from the Torres Strait to Cairns has led to open hostility, dire threats and counter-threat by the brothers.
Last year Gerhardt and Noel were accused by Hopevale families of appropriating the lions share of royalties from the community’s sand mining company at Cape Flattery.
Gerhardt Pearson recently appeared in the Magistrates Court charged with assaulting Hopevale Mayor Greg McLean after hostilities eventually boiled over.
Noel Pearson is a qualified solicitor, doing his articles under the Melbourne law firm Arnold, Bloch Liebler more than twenty years ago.
A former senior partner in the company, Isi Liebler, then a leading figure in Australian Jewry, was accused in the early 90s in Federal Parliament by independent Member Ken Aldred of having links to the Israeli spy agency, Mossad.
Arnold Bloch Liebler is the official law firm for the Australian Labor Party and represents former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Lieblers son Mark remains a partner of the firm.
Another Cairns News investigative report from Robert J Lee in Brisbane.