Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dont hold your breath for a fair decision here, the Native Title Tribunal are also corrupted

THE National Native Title Tribunal has admitted a senior executive failed to declare her ownership of a consulting firm that facilitated access to Aboriginal land by mining companies.

Nor did the NNTT's former West Australian state manager, Lillian Maher, declare her relationship with two employees of Fortescue Metals Group, which benefited from tribunal decisions.

It is alleged Ms Maher regularly briefed her partner, Michael Gallagher, about proceedings at the tribunal that affected FMG, according to a lawyer who worked with Mr Gallagher.

At about the same time, Ms Maher's firm MGA Consulting produced a heritage report that dismissed concerns raised by other consultants about potential destruction of indigenous sites.
Ms Maher worked for the NNTT from 1994 until August this year, when she left as a result of a "restructure".

Mr Gallagher worked for Fortescue Metals for several years until late 2010, before being appointed as a consultant to native title group Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, heavily funded by FMG.

Ms Maher's daughter Lisa also works for FMG.

The lawyer, Kerry Savas, who was seconded by the Perth law firm Corser & Corser to work for the WYAC throughout last year, told The Australian that Ms Maher and Mr Gallagher had discussed hearings at the NNTT concerning the WYAC on a "daily" basis. "I lived with Michael Gallagher when this was all happening," Mr Savas said.

"He spent all day checking on the NNTT business. I know he was talking to her (Ms Maher). This was a daily occurrence."
Mr Gallagher did not deny this and wrote in an email: "It would seem that Mr Savas has forgotten his ongoing professional obligations to his former clients."

Mr Savas denied the charge, noting that his obligations were to the WYAC and the court. Ms Maher did not respond to an email and phone call to her new employer, RCD Consulting.

Ms Maher and Mr Gallagher are the co-directors of MGA Consulting, which is wholly owned by Ms Maher's company, Sillytown Pty Ltd. MGA produced a report in September last year for FMG and the WYAC that was used to obtain approval for iron ore mining within FMG's Solomon Hub lease. Ms Maher's name was not on the report.
A few months earlier, anthropologist Brad Goode had said that local Aboriginal people had wanted an area known as Kangeenarina Creek to "be protected with a buffer where no works would take place".

Mr Goode resisted pressure from FMG to remove references to the importance of the creek.

The MGA report, however, implied that there was no need to protect the creek because it "does not constitute an ethnographic site in terms of Section 5 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act".

A spokeswoman for the NNTT said Ms Maher did not declare her interest in MGA or her relationships. "The NNTT has no record of any declaration or other advice being received from Ms Maher in respect of her status as a director of MGA Consulting. The NNTT has no record of any declarations being made by Ms Maher in respect of her partner's and daughter's employment," she said.
In April, The Australian asked Ms Maher if she had declared her relationship with Mr Gallagher. She said the NNTT president, Graeme Neate, knew about it.

The NNTT spokeswoman said Ms Maher's work did not involve making decisions about land access. "As WA state manager, Ms Maher had no role in the NNTT's approval of mineral licences, which is a function carried out by independent members of the NNTT," the spokeswoman said.

The NNTT settles disputes between companies and native title groups and has approved a number of mining leases for FMG.
The Australian reported recently that FMG had discontinued the services of Mr Goode after he had refused requests from the company to delete key sections of a heritage report.

Mr Goode said it was the worst instance of conduct by a mining company regarding indigenous heritage that he had experienced.
FMG's funding of the WYAC and Mr Gallagher's role are aimed at replacing the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation — the original native title claim group for the area — with the WYAC.

The WYAC's members are willing to accept FMG's offer to mine Yindjibarndi land, which has been rejected by the YAC.

FMG has funded the WYAC to mount a Supreme Court action to have an administrator appointed to the YAC, while a Federal Court action is aimed at replacing the YAC's four living claimants with those from the WYAC.


  1. Surprise Surprise posted 25 minutes ago


    The Connection Of Lillian Maher, Michael Gallagher & Their Private Companies to FMG Land Access Operations

    Native Title Tribunal inquiry

    23 January 2013

    By National Indigenous Times reporter Gerry Georgatos

    The National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) President, Graeme Neate and the Tribunal’s Registrar, Stephanie Fryer-Smith have launched an external inquiry into a former State Manager after reports published in the National Indigenous Times revealed allegations of various improprieties in reference to undeclared interests by its employee to the Tribunal. High Court of Australia officers have arrived in Western Australia as part of this inquiry and have been interviewing people – with only the notice of a few hours.


    Full story at above link.


  2. The massive debacle over faulty Compulsory Acquisitions in Brendan Gryll's department continues.

    On the radio at 0630 this morning Grylls said the investigation was taking a long time because his department still worked on a paper based system.

    He had to send someone to the back of the warehouse and fetch a box of papers.

    The faulty C.A.'s go back to at least the early '90's.

    It was still too early to say how this will effect any projects.