Indigenous advancement funding redirected to cattlemen and fishing groups
Indigenous Australians Indigenous advancement funding redirected to cattlemen and fishing groups
Nigel Scullion gave almost half a million dollars to groups to argue how they might be negatively impacted by land rights claims
Indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion has given almost half a million dollarsâ worth of funds earmarked for alleviating Indi genous disadvantage to fishing and cattlemenâs groups in the Northern Territory. The grants will go towards legal fees for the groups to argue how they might be negatively impacted by land rights claims, he told a Senate estimates hearing last week.
The move has angered the opposition, who says the minister is treating the Indigenous advancement strategy (IAS) like his own âslush fundâ.
The $4.9bn IAS is designed to âimprove the way the government does business with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to ensure funding actually achieves outcomesâ, according to the government website.
The minister approved grants of $150,000 to the NT seafood council, $170,000 to the NT amateur fishermenâs association, and $165,000 to the NT Cattlemenâs Association for âlegal fees, effectively ... to put forward a case of detriment to the land commissioner,â he told the estimates hearing.Fears of âanother stolen generationâ after New South Wales' move on foster care Read more
Under the NT Land Rights Act, those who consider a land claim would have a negative impact on their business or personal interests can argue a âdetrimentâ case about how their future access to income, land or water would suffer if a land claim is approved.
The NTâs amateur fishermen (AFANT) have been outspoken about land rights in the past, saying their âaim is to ensure no detriment to recreational fishers as part of future native title grants.â
âAFANT has continued to take an active interest in advocacy and direct involvement in land access issues through providing recreational fishing perspective directly to government,â it has said.
Scullion denied the grants enabled industry groups to oppose land claims.
âNo, not at all. Itâs about making their position on how they use the land at the moment, about how different determinations may affect their industry in different ways, but i t certainly wouldnât be opposing land claims,â he said.
The $490, 000 grants come from the IAS culture and capability division, which is supposed to fund âIndigenous cultural expression and conservationâ and âparticipation in the social and economic life of Australia.â
Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy told Guardian Australia the minister was treating the IAS as âhis slush fundâ.
âMinister Scullion needs to explain why money that is specifically for closing the gap and advancing the lives of First Nations People has been given to non-Indigenous organisations to argue they would suffer detriment from land claims.
âThe minister should also explain if other non-Indigenous organisations have received IAS grants to oppose land and native title claims.
âThe Abbott-Turnbullâ"Morrison government has failed First Nations Australians.â
But when contacted by Guardian Australia, Northern Territory Cattlemenâs Association (NTC A) said its grant will be used for an employment program.
The NTCA confirmed it has received $165, 000, which, while still unspent, had been earmarked for their âreal jobsâ program, which trains young Indigenous people for employment in the pastoral industry.
The funds will go towards cross-cultural training for employers, according to CEO Ashley Manicaros.
Manicaros said the NTCA hadnât decided how much of the grant would be spent on legal fees, but there is a need to âunwind issues of detrimentâ in land claims.
It was right to access IAS money, he said, because the NTCA has Indigenous members who are also affected by land claims.
However, he said the ministerâs comments were ânot necessarily helpfulâ.
The NT Seafood Council also confirmed their grant had been approved.
âWe understand that communities are concerned about the management of waterways, sustainable management of fisheries and about the lack of tradition al ownersâ involvement in the industry,â CEO Katherine Winchester said.
âThe seafood industry shares this frustration as it cannot plan, invest or grow without certainty, which is why we are seeking to work directly with the relevant Land Councils and communities to achieve long-term solutions as soon as practicable.â
A spokesperson for Scullion said the grants were provided âin full accordance with the Indigenous Advancement Strategy guidelines.
âThe minister has listened to the calls from communities to resolve these outstanding land claims,â the spokesperson said.
âThe Coalition committed to resolving outstanding land claims and provided funding to a range of stakeholders to make this happen, something that Labor never has.âTopics
- Indigenous Australians
- Northern Territory
- Australian politics
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