Warren Snowdon, Federal member for Lingari (Mutitjulu falls under his electorate) and… spoke to Crikey this morning
about the revelations surrounding Lateline‘s Mutitjulu story.

“It
seems to be common knowledge that the youth worker on the Lateline program was
in fact not a youth worker but a person who had previously been employed as a
community development officer as part of the Working Together project which is
I understand it is co funded by the NT and Commonwealth governments and was a
position to work with the community of Mutitjulu,” Snowdon told Crikey.

“And now this person is a senior official in Minister Brough’s
department…He’s now involved in advising the minister
and indeed other senior departmental officials and carrying out their
work….He was recently in Mutitjulu on behalf of the Commonwealth,
laying down the law, so one wonders how accurate or what advice
he’s giving the Commonwealth about what’s happened in Mutitjulu…”

“The real issue here is now is how this person is advising Brough,”
says Snowdon, “and clearly he has a predetermined point of view…How
much notice has Brough taken of this
bloke? How much notice is the government taking of this bloke?”

The anonymous youth worker “made a whole lot of allegations on this
program which were unlike the allegations of the other people because they were
all hearsay…”

++++

These hearsay allegations are very damaging and “they need to be substantiated because what
they’ve done is as a result of the program, leaving aside many of the other
substantive allegations which were made by the doctor and other people, there
was no real conversation with anyone from Mutitjulu.”

“It raises some very serious questions about
the efficacy of the advice the government has received if it is based on the
allegations and assertions and information from Mr Andrews,” Snowdon told Crikey.

As the former community development officer Andrews had the
“confidence of the community and he’s on record as saying how
successful he’s been at turning things
round in Mutitjulu…”

“But what we have
here is a picture being
painted publically as the community development officer at how
successful he’s been .. and then a completely different picture being
painted by him as an
anononymous youth worker on Lateline which has been very demoralising
and damaging to the community.”

Meanwhile, Lateline have “presented a version of
events without people being able or willing to give a response for whatever
reason,” says Snowdon. “When a number of [the youth worker’s] allegations were put
to the community people expressed their amazement and concern.”

Snowdon, who was in Mutitjulu speaking to community members
earlier this week, told Crikey,”No one in the community that I’m aware
of
has sought to evade or avoid their responsibility for looking after
government
funds properly but more importantly they were most concerned that if
anyone is
responsible for any illegal behaviour especially concerning young
children and women
that those people should be prosecuted…

But “they believe a lot
of what has been said is historical and they believe that they’ve taken some
steps to address many of those concerns including a community decision to get
rid of the main perpetrator identified in the Lateline program…”

“The community say this person was asked to
leave the community and left it between eighteen months and two years ago…. No
one knows where this bloke is now…”

“There is clearly a conflict of interest I
would have thought if this person is going to the community as a representative
of the government….and is responbisle for making anonymous allegations to police in a fax and then
making a serious of anononymous allegations to Lateline…”

Peter Fray

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