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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 281

(Question No. 1438)


Senator Calvert asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, upon notice, on 7 June 1994:

  (1) What is the amount of funding which has been provided to the Indigenous Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (ITAC) for the 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94 financial years.

  (2) What is the purpose of such funding.

  (3) What is the name, position, title and salary of all persons currently employed by the ITAC.

  (4) In relation to (3), what was the commencement date of such employment and was the employee employed as a result of a public advertisement; if not, why not.

  (5) To date, what is the total number of homes which have been purchased by the ITAC and what was the purchase price and address of these homes.

  (6) In relation to (5), for whom were each of the homes purchased and what is the name(s) of the current occupant.

  (7) What are the guide-lines used by the ITAC in determining eligibility for the provision of housing, and are income, assets and employment particulars considered; if not why not.

  (8) Were ITAC funds used to purchase a home for Mr Ted Stephenson in Sanders Street, Glenorchy; if so why.

  (9) Have any homes been purchased for other members of Mr Stephenson's family, such as his daughter, Melody; if so why.

  (10) What definition of aboriginality does the ITAC consider in relation to it's guidelines.

  (11) Do members of the ITAC have to provide any written evidence in relation to claims of aboriginality; if not, why not.

  (12) Has Tasmanian ITAC purchased a home at 18 Cavell Street, West Hobart; if so what was the purchase price.

  (13) What are the names of all persons who have been occupants of 18 Cavell St, West Hobart since the home was purchased.

  (14) Is the Minister aware that staff from ITAC may have been involved in illegally claiming sales tax exemption on goods purchased for personal use; if so, what action has been taken against employees who have been guilty of such offences; if not, will investigations be undertaken into the matter and if such allegations are proven to be correct, what action will be instigated against those found guilty.

  (15) Did the ITAC purchase two Saxon brand wood heaters on June 15 1992; if so, who were the recipients of those wood heaters and what was their total cost.

  (16) Have minutes of all the ITAC meetings been made available to the department for scrutiny; if so, could a copy of such minutes be provided.

  (17) Is the Minister aware of allegations that minutes of the ITAC meetings may have been falsified.

  (18) Has this matter been investigated; if so what are the results of such investigations; if not, will these matters be investigated.

  (19) If this matter will not be investigated, why not.

  (20) Is the ITAC going to receive an additional $1.2 m in funding under the Domestic Intervention Program.

  (21) Does the Minister consider that the ITAC has the necessary financial procedures in place to ensure that these funds are administered in a satisfactory manner.

  (22) Has the Minister or the department ever conducted an enquiry into the activities of the ITAC; if so, what were the results of those enquiries.


Senator Collins —The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the Registrar for Aboriginal Corporations have provided the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs with the following information in response to the honourable senator's question:

  A. As a part of its ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of programs conducted by the ITAC, ATSIC has sought answers from the ITAC to all parts of the senator's question. In addition the senator's question and all allegations which have been made in relation to the ITAC have been referred to the Registrar for Aboriginal Corporations who has authorised an examination under s.60 of the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 to:

  (a) investigate allegations of fraud and misappropriation of ITAC funds;

  (b) identify all housing assets, and establish in relation to each house the address, date of acquisition, purchase price, tenancy history, and relationship of tenants to Governing Committee members of the ITAC;

  (c) examine the process and criteria used by the ITAC to determine the allocation of housing;

  (d) examine and obtain copies of the minutes of meetings of the ITAC and any other records of the ITAC to determine if there has been any alleged falsification of the ITAC's minutes and records;

  (e) investigate allegations that ITAC funds were used to buy homes for Mr. Edward Stephenson and his family members, and;

  (d) determine if the ITAC governing committee members have acted within the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 and the rules of ITAC and to report on any non-compliance with or breaches of the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976.

  B. Complete answers to parts 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 13 would require the disclosure of personal information about staff of the ITAC and the occupants of

the houses owned by ITAC. That information is protected from public disclosure by the Privacy Act 1988, although parliamentary privilege would allow the question to be completely answered. I have been advised by ATSIC that the privacy of the staff and occupants of the houses owned by ITAC should be respected and the information provided in this answer is limited to information to which the information privacy principles in the Privacy Act 1988 do not apply.

  (1) According to ATSIC records grant funds received by the ITAC were $721,000 in 1991-92, $879,476 in 1992-93, and $1,075,016 in 1993-94.

  (2) The purpose of funding has been to provide affordable rental housing for Aboriginal people, to develop an organisational plan, to implement the Family Violence Intervention Program in Tasmania and to produce a newsletter for distribution within the Aboriginal community.

  (3) and (4) The titles of the staff positions at the ITAC and the salaries that those positions attract will be provided as soon as that information has been obtained from the ITAC. The remainder of the information sought is of a private and personal nature and will not be provided.

  (5) Total number of houses—27 houses

Purchase price and address of houses is as follows:

Address Purchase price

35 Victor Place Montrose $94,000

Main Road Dover $67,000

351 Lenah Valley Road Lenah Valley $130,000

35 Elliot Road Glenorchy $78,000

Huon Highway Raminea $49,000

Lot 3 Dulcia Road Middleton $85,000

5 Vernon Avenue Montrose $80,000

4 Sherwood Road West Moonah $80,000

26 Thompson Crescent Bridgewater $65,000

11 Finlay Street Bridgewater $68,000

61 Golden Valley Road Cygnet $72,000

18 Sanders Street Glenorchy $120,000

12 Eddington Street Bridgewater $62,000

33 Garfield Road Glenorchy $93,000

61 Lennox Avenue Lutana $89,000

26 Walker Street Montrose $90,000

28 Dickson Street Glenorchy $84,000

136 Tolosa Street Glenorchy $105,000

41 Sinclair Avenue Moonah $135,000

18 Dodges Court Sorell $85,000

458 Lenah Valley Road $116,000

9 Dollery Drive Kingston $92,000

18 Cavell Street South Hobart $125,000

12 Ford Lane Brighton $79,000

37 Chippendale Street Claremont $82,000

18 Spring Street Claremont $75,500

28 Malabar Road Claremont $75,000

TOTAL $2,375,500

  (6) The information sought is of a private and personal nature and will not be disclosed.

  (7) The ITAC has been requested to provide ATSIC with sufficient information for this part of the question to be answered. When the information has been obtained it will be provided.

  (8) & (9) The ITAC has purchased a house in Sanders Street Glenorchy. That house was purchased for the purpose of providing Aboriginal housing in accordance with the conditions of a grant to the ITAC. The remainder of the information sought is of a private and personal nature and will not be disclosed.

  (10) The ITAC has been requested to provide ATSIC with sufficient information for this part of the question to be answered. When the information has been obtained it will be provided.

  (11) The ITAC has been requested to provide ATSIC with sufficient information for this part of the question to be answered. When the information has been obtained it will be provided.

  (12) Yes. The purchase price was $125,000.

  (13) The information sought in part 13 of the question is of a private and personal nature and will not be disclosed.

  (14) No. If information comes to the Minister's notice which leads the Minister to believe that an offence may have been committed against the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) 1930 then that information will be referred to the Australian Taxation Office. It is not a function of ATSIC and ATSIC does not have the power to conduct an investigation into the compliance of staff employed by the ITAC with the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) of 1930.

  (15) The ITAC has been requested to provide ATSIC with sufficient information for this part of the question to be answered. When the information has been obtained it will be provided.

  (16)—(19) See part A of the answer above. The Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations has obtained minutes of all the ITAC meetings as part of his investigations. A decision will be made as to what if any of copies of the minutes and the results of the investigation will be provided when the investigation has been completed and a report on the investigation has been provided to the Minister.

  (20) No. The Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Council has allocated $94,848 for the program in Tasmania.

  (21) The Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations has appointed Mr Daniel Rands of the Chartered accountants firm of Horwath and Horwath to conduct an examination under section 60 of the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 of the accounts and records of the ITAC. Mr Daniel Rands previously conducted such an examination in 1993. In a report dated 12 May 1993 Mr Rands concluded that the Governing committee of the ITAC go to some effort to ensure compliance with the statutory and grant requirements and he was not able to identify where breaches have occurred. He stated that the financial reporting systems of the corporation are of a very high standard, and further stated that criticism of the corporation citing alleged favouritism in housing allocation cannot be supported by a breach of any identified requirement.

  (22) Enquiries have been and are being conducted into the activities of the ITAC as detailed in part A of this answer and in the response to part 21 of the honourable senator's question.