Canberra’s Billabong Aboriginal Development Corporation is the ACT’s finalist for the National Landcare awards, Indigenous section. Responding to a question from the ABC’s Rural programme, Billabong’s founder and chairman Jim Best says eight out of ten of those young people got work out of it.
It’s really important to pick up a whole range of skills.
We had a core group of young people doing the Conservation Land Management Certificate 2, and while that’s a very valuable six-month course to be involved in there are also other skills that go with that, that they require.
So we put them together with fencing, propagation, pricking out, seed collection (and we’ve got a very good seed bank down there, about $10,000 worth of high demand species for the ACT region.)
We’ve put together 50,000 plants that have hardened off that are ready for the regeneration projects.
We’ve also trained them in business skills which enables them to get onto the internet, word document, excel, write reports, get the language right, the numeracy, the literacy.
To me at least, it appears that Billabong is providing an important community service not only for the Indigenous community in the ACT and its surrounds, but for the Australian community as a whole. Indeed, one would have to agree that a work placement outcome of 80% from any work ready programme is an enviable achievement; even more enviable considering that Billabong’s programme is primarily focused on indigenous participants.
Instead of lauding Billabong for its achievements, which should be the envy of all indigenous work ready programmes, the ACT’s Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs Dr Chris Bourke, told a Budget Estimates committee hearing that the not-for-profit Billabong Aboriginal Development Corporation is not an Aboriginal organisation.
That prompted the corporation’s chairman Jim Best to write to the committee, disputing the minister’s evidence as misleading and disappointing.
Mr Best says there were factual errors about the name, registration and status of his Corporation.
He also asked for an apology, and provided documents to show his organisation is registered as Indigenous.
Mr Best’s understandable outrage at Dr Bourke’s outrageous comments prompted a media release from the ACT opposition calling for Dr Bourke’s removal from the Indigenous Affairs portfolio. In its media release the ACT opposition’s Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Jeremy Hanson called for Dr Chris Bourke’s removal as Minister following, what the opposition described as “a bizarre display” in a recalled Estimates hearing on Monday. Dr Bourke was forced to apologise to the Billabong Aboriginal Development Corporation on Tuesday, after giving misleading answers in Estimates last week.
While the ACT opposition and the ACT Greens are continuing their pursuit of Dr Bourke over the issue, Billabong’s Chairman Mr Best declined to comment on Mr Hanson’s press release, saying that he accepted the minister’s apology:
As far as we’re concerned, the man’s apologised and it’s time to move on we’re getting back to doing what we do and that’s working with the community.
That’s the way it should be, but for a few minor details. The ACT Labor Government that Dr Bourke represents as Minister for Indigenous Affairs, is the same Labor Government that fitted-up and sacked its Wiradjuri Commissioner for Revenue for demanding that the white controlled Australian Labor Party (“ALP”), which is the party that has held government in the ACT since 2001, hold itself accountable to the same standards of the ‘rule of law’ that it insists Aboriginal Australia meet.
There were a number of issues in dispute at that time, the main one being the theft of about 130,000,000.00 dollars from the ACT Home Loan Portfolio, some of which was apparently transferred to the New South Wales (“NSW”) Branch of the ALP. ‘Pat’ the then ACT’s Wiradjuri Commissioner for Revenue first raised his concerns regarding this issue with Mr Peter Wallace, his immediate superior, when Pat was Principle Project Officer with the ACT Department of Urban Services GST Implementation Project in 1999, now 13 years ago. What has been done in those 13 years? Apart from Pat having been fitted-up and sacked by the ACT Government and racially vilified and attacked by the ALP and the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”), nothing.
It is also the same ALP Government that failed to collect Land Rates on a number of Canberra suburbs over a number of years, a situation which as occurred on more than one occasion. It is also the same ALP Government that has allowed a land tax fraud, first raised by Mr Alan Wylucki, a quantity surveyor, in 2001 to go uninvestigated since!
A corrupt and incompetent ACT Government and Public Service
Earlier this year the ACT Government introduced a Land Rent Scheme in the Australian Capital Territory (“ACT”). According to the ACT Revenue Office website the Land Rent Scheme “is part of the ACT Government’s Affordable Housing Action Plan. The Land Rent Scheme gives a lessee the option of renting land through a land rent lease rather than purchasing the land to build a home”.
The Land Rent Act 2008 is administered under the Taxation Administration Act 1999. Under the scheme, purchasers of a single dwelling residential block (previously unleased land) sold by the Land Development Agency (“LDA”) have the option of applying for the crown lease to be issued as a land rent lease. The advantage for potential lessees in taking up this option is the reduction of the up-front costs associated with owning a house. That is, lessees will not need to finance the cost of the land, only the costs associated with the transfer of the land (such as duty) and the construction of the home.
Being a card carrying Communist, I will not argue that the sentiments behind the scheme are anything other than laudable. However, its implementation and administration have been incompetent, to the point of corruption as defined under the ACT Public Sector Management Act (1994). In fact in 2003 the ACT Auditor-General defined corruption as extending to:
… readily incorporate improper conduct such as breaches of values/principles, or mismanagement leading to waste and abuse of public resources.
In 2003 the ACT’s Wiradjuri Commissioner for Revenue ‘Pat” reasoned against such a Land Rent Scheme arguing that it would breach the aforementioned guidelines regarding corruption. Pat argued that not only would it not assist low income earners, it would adversely affect the ACT’s budget bottom line as it would impact negatively on land sales revenue. This is exactly what has happened.
None of Westpac, the ANZ, the NAB, the Commonwealth or St George will lend to borrowers seeking to use the purchase property as security. They won’t lend because as the title of the Act suggests, it’s a land rent scheme with the title staying with the landlord, i.e. the ACT Government. Without title passing to the borrower, the borrower can’t mortgage the property for finance. Simple, so simple even a Wiradjuri can work through the issues. But, not so simple that the racists at ACT Treasury who went to such great lengths to purge the Department of the hated “useless boong cunt” could understand the implications.
Blak and Black has spoken to all the aforementioned banks, they have all confirmed that they won’t lend under the scheme. Blak and Black has also spoken to a number of prominent ACT based builders who say that they haven’t been buying land at auction, because it’s makes better sense to acquire the land under the land rent scheme, build houses and rent the finished property to the Defence Housing Authority. Successful builders don’t generally need to borrow to build on their own instructions. Who has this scheme helped, wealthy builders to the detriment of both the low income earners of the ACT and the Australian Taxpayer as a whole, as the ACT is funded to about eighty precent of its budget via Commonwealth grants. How is this not “waste and abuse of public resources”?
The ACT Department of Treasury has argued that the Territory receives a benefit via the Land Rent Scheme because it can levy rates on the properties once they have a house built on them. This is all well and good in theory, but one needs to remember that the white supremacists in the ACT Revenue Office have on more than one occasion in the last few years neglected to rate new suburbs. Again one must ask how this is not “waste and abuse of public resources”, a waste and abuse amounting to corruption.
Perhaps if the white supremacists in the ACT Revenue Office spent more time doing the jobs for which they are extravagantly paid, there would be better and more original policy coming from that area of ACT Treasury. Better policy would mean more revenue. More revenue would mean that the ACT Government would become less of a sponge on the rest of Australia’s taxpayers.
It’s high-time for some genuine accountability from Australia’s public servants, in tandem with genuine efforts to eliminate waste and prosecute those guilty of corruption. Remember racism is a form of bullying, which is a form of corruption.