Scullion draws anger over legal funding
November 01, 2018
Northern Land Council chairman Joe Morrison says it is a "poor look" that public money meant for Aboriginal people was being used by third parties opposed to land claims.
The NT Seafood Council, NT Amateur Fishermen's Association and NT Cattlemen's Association shared in $465,000 earlier this year to pay lawyers to help them demonstrate how outstanding Aboriginal land claims would cause them detriment to they can claims compensation.
Recreational or commercial fishers are affected by Aboriginal land claims all over the Territory, which is renowned internationally for barramundi.
NT Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, who questioned Senator Scullion at a Senate estimates hearing, accused him of "misusing his responsibilities" with Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) grants supposed to go to "improving the lives of First Nations people".
The Abbott government cut half a billion dollars from Indigenous Affairs and numerous Aboriginal legal, health and other community-controlled organisations were furious at money being spent in this manner in relation to land claims, she told AAP.
Senator McCarthy said the lobby groups should be going to the attorney-general's department for legal funds.
Dr Jackie Huggins, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, said the group had long standing concerns funds specifically to benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were often siphoned off.
"This money needs to be utilised for closing the gap and improving the life of our peoples; instead it's being harnessed to use against our land claims," she said in a statement.
Senator Scullion says it is in Aboriginal people's financial interests to assist the lobby groups who might not have the resources to pay for lawyers and clear up a backlog of delayed land claims.
If title is granted over sea country, for instance, commercial fishing operators would pay money to Aboriginal people to access it.
"I make no apologies for my commitment to progress all outstanding claims to ensure we can grant all remaining parcels of Aboriginal land that are appropriate to."
Amateur Fisherman's Association executive officer David Ciaravolo told Mix Radio the group needed financial help to determine if there was significant detriment for 22 matters this year.
Source AAP November 1 2018