Minister’s report-altering claims ‘drafted without my knowledge’

By The Mandarin

Wednesday April 20, 2016

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion again rejected allegations from former board members of the Indigenous Land Corporation that he directed changes to their 2014-15 annual report.

The documents and correspondence, examined by The Mandarin over the last two weeks, suggested that a request to alter the content of the report’s foreword was both substantial and direct from the minister’s office.

But it’s not all it appears to be, the minister says in a new statement. The documents do not accurately reflect the exchange between him and the current ILC board, he says.

Scullion said he was loathe to engage in a campaign “that is all about impugning the Indigenous Land Corporation and Australian government”, but he needed to correct the record:

“I did not direct the ILC make changes to the report. Nor do I have the authority to do so.

“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. It is completely appropriate for me to bring to the attention of the ILC board these inaccuracies.

“The ILC Board, of its own volition, decided how it wished to respond — and decided to add a statement to the annual report from the current chair, Mr Eddie Fry. There were no other changes made to the report.”

Moreover, the minister said the documents that were released don’t prove what former ILC chair Dawn Casey is claiming:

“The documents obtained by the former Chair under Freedom of Information include internal communication between ILC staff and draft documents produced by ILC staff. These documents were drafted without the knowledge of myself, my office or the ILC Board.

“These documents do not accurately reflect that I only requested that the ILC Board consider how it might respond to the inaccuracies in the former Chair’s statement.”

Scullion added that he hopes everyone can get back to the core business of supporting indigenous Australians:

“Under the previous leadership, too much time was wasted and significant opportunities squandered while the ILC engaged in political games and conspiracy theories. I have no interest in revisiting any of this nonsense.

“I am just pleased the ILC is now focused on getting on with its core business: supporting the economic aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”

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