• In 2013 the former Labor Government approved a $10 million grant for the Machado Joseph Foundation which was then revoked six months later by Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion (NITV)Source: NITV
In a legal test case, the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, is being challenged for revoking a $10 million funding grant.
By
Malarndirri McCarthy

Source:
NITV News
27 Aug 2015 - 11:44 AM  UPDATED 27 Aug 2015 - 11:56 AM

TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: In a legal test case, the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, is being challenged for revoking a $10 million funding grant.

In 2013 the former Labor Government approved a $10 million grant for the Machado Joseph Foundation which was then revoked six months later by Minister Scullion.

Machado Joseph disease lawyers have told the Federal Court that the Minister did not have the power to revoke the decision.

Malarndirri McCarthy explains.

Malarndirri McCarthy: There are over 550 Indigenous Australians thought to be at risk of developing Machado Joseph disease (MJD).

MJD is a neurodegenerative condition and is an inherited disease, with no known cure leaving sufferers virtually unable to walk and care for themselves.

David Daniels, MJD patient: The only way we can get ahead in life is these people...we can't do nothing ourselves, we just sit in the wheelchair.

Gayangwa Lalara, ABC News: People who have MJD just sit and watch and depend on families to help them.

So when $10 million was approved and then revoked, the foundation decided to challenge the minister's power.

Stephen Glass, MJD Foundation lawyer: What we're saying, what we're arguing to the court today, is that the ability to make the decision once, to make the decision more than once depends upon what the nature of the decision is.

And in this case, given that the decision is a decision to make a payment that must under the legislation be made straight away, you can't remake that decision. You can make it upwards to pay more, but you can't remake the decision to pay less.

The $10 million came from a pool of funds from the Aboriginal Benefits account which in turn receives its money from mining royalties.

The Aboriginal Benefits Account (ABA) has representatives from the four Aboriginal land councils of the NT and the ABA approved the $10 million funding request by MJD. On Tuesday in the Federal Court, Justice Flick asked if the ABA were included in the decision to revoke the funding.

Stephen Glass, MJD Foundation lawyer: It was an interesting question that he asked and I think he was trying to understand, what he was trying to explore, whether there was anything to be made of the fact that this money wasn't coming from consolidated revenue, but it was coming from a separate account that has been established specifically for the benefit of Aboriginal people from funds that have been raised as a result of Aboriginal owernship of land from which mining royalities have been derived.

So really he was making the point that this is and has always been Aboriginal money, it's not money coming from general consolidated revenue that has been paid for by Australian taxpayers generally.

It is Aboriginal money.

Justice Flick will hand down his decision within two months.

Malarndirri McCarthy, NITV News.