• Conservative commentator and journalist Andrew Bolt. (AAP)Source: AAP
Social media users reveal that paragraphs in a letter purportedly written by a senior Yolngu Elder and published in a NewsCorp blog by columnist Andrew Bolt can be found near verbatim in an unrelated website and an academic paper.
Jack Latimore

28 Jan 2020 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 28 Jan 2020 - 12:58 AM

Large tracts of text from a letter supposedly written by a Yolgnu Elder and published by Andrew Bolt on his blog, were actually lifted from other documents freely available online, NITV News can reveal.

In an exclusive video interview with NITV News published on Monday, Warramiri Tribal Chief Terry Yumbulul rejected claims he is the author of a letter attributed to him and published in a blog post by NewsCorp columnist Andrew Bolt on Sunday. 

In the video interview, Mr Yumbulul said that he was contacted by businesswoman Josephine Cashman regarding elements contained in the letter published by Bolt, but emphasised that he did not author the letter.

“Josephine rang me about it and that was on the phone… and I did not say anything of the sort to write the letter on behalf of me,” said Mr Yumbulul. “There was never consent.”

In the full version of the letter published by Andrew Bolt — as pointed out to NITV News by social media users — the third paragraph appears to have been lifted from a website about the history of the Yolngu.

Paragraphs five and six of the letter were taken from a journal paper titled “Metaphor and the Metalanguage: ‘Groups’ in Northeast Arnhem Land," by Ian Keen and published in American Ethnologist in 1995.

The letter published by Bolt on Sunday says: “The land selected Josephine Cashman for a leadership role and she has benefited from a Yolnga [sic] discipline ceremony to prepare her for a leadership role. Josephine is the only woman to have done so." 

On Monday, Mr Yumbulul said there was no such ceremony to prepare a woman for a leadership role where the land chooses a woman or person to lead.

“The land does not choose leader, birth right does,” he told NITV News.

Mr Yumbulul also said the letter goes against and misrepresents his beliefs.

EXCLUSIVE: Yolngu Elder did not author letter
EXCLUSIVE: Yolngu Warramiri Tribal Chief says he did not author a letter attributed to him in a column published by Newscorp columnist, Andrew Bolt, on Sunday.