The Indigenous Land Corporation was created with the purpose of enabling Indigenous Australians to own more land. But following the recent Ayers Rock Resort purchase, one big question remains: how does it improve returns?
By
NITV News

21 Oct 2015 - 10:41 AM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2015 - 11:09 AM
TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: The outgoing chair of the government body designed to help Indigenous people own more land says it'll spend the next 15 years paying the price for a controversial purchase.

Despite all the successes from the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) in running a number of pastoral properties, its purchase of the Ayers Rock Resort continues to haunt it.

Myles Morgan: It's the decision which is still costing the Indigenous Land Corporation.

In 2011, it bought the Ayers Rock Resort in the Northern Territory for over $300 million.

The problem is, now it's only worth about $200 million and the corporation still has to pay interest on the debt and spend money developing the resort.

"One solution: to hand the ILC's land account to the Government's Future Fund to improve returns."

Dawn Casey, former ILC chair: Over the last couple of years, I think we've paid $44 million in interest only, so that's money that's come off other programs. We've allocated $60 million in capital works.

Myles Morgan: Dawn Casey says the resort is running well and providing excellent opportunities for First Nations employees.

But it was an expensive venture for a corporation dedicated to buying and managing land.

Dawn Casey: To spend $300 million in just one area was unfortunate.

Myles Morgan: Doctor Casey says fundamental problems like accountability, transparency and independent advice to Government organisations like the ILC still exist.

One solution: to hand the ILC's land account to the Government's Future Fund to improve returns.

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Dawn Casey: Minister Scullion has control and a say in whether it goes over to the Future Fund, which he hasn't agreed to. He hasn't agreed to any of our proposals that we've put to him. From that perspective, it is controlled by the government.

Myles Morgan: There's now a new board at the ILC - new chairman Edward Fry and new directors like former Labor senator Trish Crossin and Recognise campaigner Tanya Hosch.

Dawn Casey: They'll determine their own priorities but clearly one of the priorities is to finalise the refinancing of Ayers Rock because it's due next year.

Myles Morgan, NITV NEWS