The organisation charged with representing the interests of 30,000 people in the Northern Territory has advised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull not to re-appoint Nigel Scullion as Indigenous affairs minister.
Northern Land Council’s (NLC) CEO Joe Morrison told the ABC he wrote to Malcolm Turnbull in recent weeks with his concerns about Senator Scullion’s approach to land rights.
"I think it was unfortunate the Prime Minister chose to ignore that advice and continue to have Nigel Scullion as the minister for Indigenous Affairs," Joe Morrison told the ABC.
Last month, Joe Morrison told a Native Title conference in Darwin that Nigel Scullion should be sacked as Indigenous Affairs minister.
Mr Morrison accused Senator Scullion of trying to undermine land rights in the Northern Territory.
“For as long as Nigel Scullion remains minister, I believe Aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory and the important role and functions of the land councils will remain under threat,” Mr Morrison told the Darwin conference.
He also said the government’s controversial Indigenous Advancement Strategy was another harmful move against Aboriginal people in the NT.
“Senator Scullion and his army of bureaucrats failed Indigenous Australians dismally, yet in the face of a damning Senate inquiry he stands up before the NLC full council and claims that, in his words, he’s untangled a mess of programs that had barely made an impact on Indigenous intergenerational disadvantage.”
It’s unclear whether the Prime Minister received or considered the NLC’s advice but he revealed yesterday that Senator Scullion will retain his job.
“I'm delighted Nigel is continuing in the Indigenous Affairs Minister role,” he said in reply to a question from NITV asking whether he’d consulted with any Aboriginal people before re-appointing Minister Scullion.
The Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation has taken a polar opposite position to the NLC.
“If you want to advance the cause of the Aboriginal people, the answer is not to take out Scullion, it is to remove Joe Morrison as CEO of the Northern Land Council,” Rirratjingu chairman Bakamumu Marika said in a press release.
The RAC had lost a legal battle against the NLC over mining royalties in 2015.
“Minister Scullion is a very small part of a problem paralysing self-determination and investment in the Northern Territory,” the corporation said.
“The issue circulates around the role of Aboriginal Corporations, and the fact that the Land Rights Act (1976) makes provision for the Northern Land Council to delegate powers to them – but it refuses to do so.”