Crikey has obtained the search warrant at the centre of yesterday’s raid on the home of Mutitjulu woman Dorethea Randall, who works for the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation. And one of the stars of the document is none other than senior public servant and Lateline‘s anonymous youth worker Gregory Andrews. Federal Police and Northern Territory police seized records and a computer hard drive from Randall’s house and the community centre yesterday morning:
Officers were targeting documents relating to community members and public servants, including senior bureaucrat from the Office of Indigenous Policy Co-ordination Greg Andrews, the same bureaucrat whose department last week cited stress as a reason why he couldn’t appear before a parliamentary committee over his appearance on Lateline in June:
The list also included Wayne Gibbons, head of OIPC, Lateline and Chris Graham, editor of the National Indigenous Times.
NIT ran a story in July about leaked emails that revealed that Greg Andrews sought to obtain the criminal records of a Mutitjulu council official and promised to provide them to OIPC chief Wayne Gibbons. According to NIT, the confidential email was “sent a day before Mr Andrews was due in Mutitjulu for a meeting with the local community.”
The National Indigenous Times reported yesterday that police were looking for information linking Randall to OIPC official Tjanara Goreng Goreng, who filed a formal complaint against Mr Andrews and whose Canberra home was raided by the AFP in July this year:
Ms Goreng Goreng had filed a formal complaint against Mr Andrews alleging misconduct by him during a meeting he attended in Mutitjulu in June.
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Ms Goreng Goreng has since been suspended from the public service and is the subject of an ongoing police investigation.
“I understand that the emails relate to the conduct of one of the named public servants…”, the lawyer representing Mutitjulu George Newhouse told Crikey. “But since when is it a crime to discuss the conduct of a government officer?”
So why are people’s homes being raided by Federal Police in Greg Andrews’ name? And how much is all this costing the taxpayer?
“This is part of the Department of Indigenous Affairs’ continuing vendetta against the remote Aboriginal community,” Newhouse told Crikey. “It underlines the fact that the Howard government will not tolerate anyone getting in the way of its strategy of winding back Aboriginal self-government and indigenous land rights, even if that means covering up for the improper conduct of its officers.”
“Why aren’t all Australians entitled to know that senior public servants have misled the Senate, assumed false identities and slandered the Mutitjulu community on national television or that they have manipulated the community so that they could strip them of their self-government?” asks Newhouse.
Newhouse told Crikey that the seizure of the community’s documents and hard disks will significantly hamper the community’s preparation for its court case next week. A former governing councillor has lodged an application in the Federal Court against the appointment of an administrator by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough.
The raid comes in the wake of Brough’s visit to Mutitjulu last weekend, in which he flew into the centre of a protest during the opening of a new police post.
The protest centred on Mr Brough’s now debunked claims of “pedophile rings” in Aboriginal communities and the report by Lateline about child abuse at Mutitjulu.