About 250 Aboriginal community members - and a kangaroo - turn out for financial reckoning at Port Augusta

ADOPTED: Boxer the joey kangaroo was a special guest at the Adnyamathanha meeting attended by Samara, right, and Marilyn Jackson. The meeting looked at financial records.
ADOPTED: Boxer the joey kangaroo was a special guest at the Adnyamathanha meeting attended by Samara, right, and Marilyn Jackson. The meeting looked at financial records.

About 250 Aboriginals - and a kangaroo called Boxer - turned out for a financial reckoning for the multi-million-dollar Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association in Port Augusta on Saturday.

The five-month-old joey kangaroo belongs to the family of reform group elder Charlie Jackson, of Port Augusta, who was a key speaker at what was the association's annual general meeting at Central Oval.

Boxer was brought along by Mr Jackson's daughter Samara and his wife Marilyn and the cute creature would have been startled by the uproar at the gathering.

The meeting was led by two special administrators appointed by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations to run the affairs of the association until April 16.

An accountant working for the administrators revealed a multi-million-dollar trail of financial transactions and warned that if the association did not change tack, it would go broke.

Anthony Pike put up on a screen the amounts reviewed by forensic auditor KordaMentha. They showed that between 2012 and 2020:

  • The association's ATLA Trust and a former affiliated trust called Cramond received $13.9 million
  • $7.1 million was moved between the association's seven bank accounts
  • $6.8 million came from outside the association into the ATLA trust or Cramond from a third party
  • $14.3 million was paid out of the ATLA Trust to Cramond
  • $7.2 million went to external parties, representing a $400,000 shortfall between incoming and outgoing funds.
  • Amounts of $2.2 million were received in mining royalties, $1.2 million from investments and $650,000 from the government
  • $1 million went to directors and related parties, $1.3 million went to unknown parties and $1.2 million was miscellaneous outgoings.
  • There was a "lack of records" for external payments of $4.2 million, $3.2 million receipts and about $7.8 million internal transfers between bank accounts.

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Community member Haydyn Bromley said most of his people knew nothing about what had happened for most of the time in the past 20 years.

"That information should have been given 12 months ago at the start of the administration, not now," he said to applause.

Port Augusta's "Tiger" McKenzie tried to move a resolution calling for a Royal Commission into the association and Aboriginal organisations and agencies, but this was disallowed by chairman and co-administrator Bevan Mailman who said no resolutions were to be adopted at the gathering.,

Former chairman of the association and representative of Adnyamathanha Native Title Holders Vince Coulthard said "not a lot of income" had flowed in the past 11 years.

"The financials have been produced by the association since its inception," he said.

"I am really saddened that misinformation is getting out here."

Terry Coulthard said he had information and could supply it.

"It don't know where these figures are from," he said, referring to the forensic audit findings.

"I have information here that is contradictory."

Mr Mailman told the meeting that the adnministrators were "not pointing the finger at anyone".

"There are receipts missing. They may be out there, they may not," he said.

Meeting over, the community members filed out of the Central Oval hall with Samara holding Boxer as he headed home to a quieter place to spar with the Jackson families' five cats and two dogs.

"He goes anywhere," she said of the adopted Adnyamathanha mammal.

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