Adnyamathanha people allow media into meeting in Port Augusta

VOTE: Community members vote to allow media to attend their information meeting in Port Augusta on Saturday. The resolution was proposed by indigenous leader 'Tiger' McKenzie.
VOTE: Community members vote to allow media to attend their information meeting in Port Augusta on Saturday. The resolution was proposed by indigenous leader 'Tiger' McKenzie.
VOICE: Adnyamathanha community leader 'Tiger' McKenzie launched a resolution to allow media to attend the meeting.

VOICE: Adnyamathanha community leader 'Tiger' McKenzie launched a resolution to allow media to attend the meeting.

A passionate speech by indigenous elder 'Tiger' McKenzie paved the way for media to attend a meeting of Adnyamathanha people in Port Augusta on Saturday.

He moved a resolution to allow Greg Mayfield, of The Transcontinental, and Adele Ferguson, of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, to enter the building to report on proceedings.

"It is a democracy and we need transparency," he told the gathering of about 90 people in the gym at the Flinders View Primary School.

Former chairman of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association Vince Coulthard argued against the resolution, but was defeated on a show of hands.

Before the meeting, Mr McKenzie said the event offered hope for the future.

"There is hope to get service providers at Beverley uranium mine engaged to set up businesses and jobs for indigenous people," he said. "They may be able to tender for projects in the future."

The three-hour meeting was told of a forensic review of the association's finances which feature millions of dollars in royalties from the mine.

The review found money was flowing largely to "certain family groups".

Information was given to the community members about how the constitution was "poorly written" and failed to comply with the law, according to the administrators.

The meeting was told that "many parts of the Trust Deed had the effect of trying to minimise outside scrutiny of the trustee in charge of running the ATLA Trust and its decisions, including who received payments from the trust fund".

The administrators - who were appointed by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations - said parts of the deed that were inconsistent with good governance and accountability should be removed.

They said the deed had tried to exclude duties of care, diligence, skill and prudence that the trustee had under law and under proper governance principles.

"The trustee was expressly permitted to act even when it had a conflict of interest," they said.

The administrators are corporate lawyers Bevan Mailman and Brian Bero, both of Melbourne. Registrar of Indigenous Coporations Selwyn Button also spoke to the gathering.

A Welcome to Country was offered at the start of the meeting by Enice Marsh, of Gladstone, who said the meeting was on Nukunu, Bungarla and Kokatha land.

Former association chairman Mr Coulthard defended the organisation during the meeting. "Don't knock what has been done. People around the country look at the association as a successful organisation ... God is watching," he said.

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