Crikey reporter Sophie Black writes:

As John Howard prepares to announce his “reconciliation action plans
in the wake of media reports of remote Aboriginal communities troubled
by violence, abuse and alcoholism, a
senior federal bureaucrat has
admitted that he misled the federal Senate Inquiry into Petrol Sniffing in Remote Aboriginal
Communities while representing Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough.

According to the National Indigenous Times, Greg Andrews, the Assistant Secretary of the Communities Engagement Branch within the
Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination (OIPC), who also allegedly appeared in a recent ABC Lateline program
described as a “former youth worker”, has made his
admission in a letter sent to the secretary of the Senate Community
Affairs Committee last Wednesday.

On 27 April this year, Mr Andrews, representing Mr
Brough at the Inquiry, was introduced to senators by OIPC boss, Wayne
Gibbons.

Mr Andrews began his evidence to the Inquiry by claiming he lived in Mutitjulu for about nine months.

In Mr Andrews’s letter to the committee he admits he never lived at Mutitjulu.

Mr Andrews also admitted that he “may have unintentionally” misled the Inquiry on the roll-out of the non-sniffable fuel Opal.

Mr Andrews has apologised “for any unintentional ambiguity that I may have created”.

Northern
Territory ALP Senator Trish Crossin, who requested on 18 July for
Brough to explain why Mr Andrews had misled the Inquiry, told Crikey
this morning “Senate committees don’t take this kind of thing lightly
… the letter will be tabled when we
next sit … we welcome the
correction … However I am still trying to find out about the accuracy
of Andrews’s claims of kids
hanging themselves on the church steeple. People in the community have
denied that.”

Lawyer George Newhouse, who is representing Mutitjulu in their efforts
to protest the Government’s appointment of an administrator, told
Crikey, “I’m very pleased that Mr Andrews has come clean on
misleading the Senate. I really wish that he would come forward with
further
corrections in relation to his allegations about the community. In particular, allegations of hangings off the church
steeple, and paedophile and drug rings.”

Mutitjulu refuses to move from the headlines of late – the beleaguered community has popped
up again after federal police raided the Canberra home of an
Aboriginal public
servant last Friday. Newhouse, who initially represented the woman,
told NIT that she’s a member of the Mutitjulu community. He told NIT last week:
“It relates to allegations about confidential government
communication.” He described the raid as part of a government campaign
against Australia’s Indigenous community.

Peter Fray

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