Last Saturday Federal indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough made a flying visit to the indigenous community of Mutitjulu. Visiting the community near Uluru to open a new police station, the Minister was ambushed by enraged placard-bearing locals demanding an apology for the Lateline allegations and his claims that paedophile rings were operating in their remote Northern Territory community.
Waving sticks at Brough, four elderly women – all traditional owners – called on him to “stop rubbishing our children, stop hurting them”. One protestor’s placard bore the line “Superintendent Brough”, another “Lateline lies.” The community council had also refused the ABC a permit to attend the event because of the allegations of s-xual abuse made by Lateline earlier this year.
As The Australian reports:
Mr Brough denied making claims paedophile rings were operating in the area, although he refused to back away from other child abuse allegations, despite an NT government inquiry finding no evidence to date…
Crying, wailing and waving banners, about 30 vocal members of the community shrugged off a traditional reverence for visitors to reveal the true extent of their rage…
A visibly shaken Mr Brough called for quiet when he attempted to talk to the hostile crowd. “You can shout all you want or you can quieten down,” he said…
Mr Brough said he was surprised to see the community react in such a vocal manner. Following his speech, a ten-year-old girl presented the minister with a letter from the Mutitjulu community which criticised the Federal Government for its ignorance.
“We cannot believe you would destroy our self esteem and self governance,” said the letter, signed by ten traditional owners. “You have taken advice from people who do not care for us and listened to their lies.”
Now, one of those people to which the letter is referring, bureaucrat Gregory Andrews, is set to have his own uncomfortable moment in the spotlight. Andrews wasn’t in Mutitjulu to see the placard bearing his name (“We want apology Greg”) but Labor Senator Trish Crossin has put in a special request for the Senior Executive Service Band One staff member in the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination in the Department of Indigenous Affairs to appear before the Senate Estimates committee tomorrow and in breaking news, Crikey has been informed that the government has agreed the bureaucrat will appear:
In relation to your request for Mr Greg Andrews, FaCSIA Departmental officer, to appear at the estimates hearing, the Department has advised that Mr Andrews will be available to answer questions from Senators about his area of responsibility in FaCSIA. He will not be available to answer questions on any other matter particularly relating to previous employment.
So will the man, who appeared under a cloak of anonymity falsely labelled as a youth worker in the controversial Lateline report, answer questions about his claims about Mutitjulu, claims that the representatives from the community vehemently deny? Will he answer a grilling about Minister Brough’s role in this mess?
Expect fireworks tomorrow — but there does seem to be a disclaimer here. The Department has stressed that Andrews “will not be available to answer questions on any other matter particularly relating to previous employment“. Brough has often stressed the point that Andrews was not working for his department when he was working at Mutitjulu — could this be Andrews’ out clause?