Services on the Lands Update No. 5: 4 November 2008

Members will be aware of recent articles in the Advertiser saying the State Government wants to take away powers to deliver services from APY and to introduce local government on the APY Lands. The quality of service delivery to Anangu is what is important in the short term, not whether APY does or does not have power to deliver services. APY does not and has not been delivering the services. Anangu know that. Problems with service delivery are three fold.

First, lack of transparency and accountability in the financial affairs of service providers leaves room for inefficiency, waste and corruption. Simple funding grants to service providers and the inefficient use of technical assistance personnel does nothing to promote Anangu ownership of service delivery in partnership with government or build Anangu capacity to deliver services on their Lands.

Second, service providers crippled by failures of management and governance, and controlled by non-Anangu consultants, means that the only Anangu to benefit are a privileged few who enjoy paid jobs, trips to Alice Springs and Adelaide and resources such as vehicles and access to fuel.

Third, the lack of any organised commercial arrangements to regulate service providers’ entry to, and presence on the Lands leads to problems and disputes.

State Government has made clear that it wants to create a local government council (“the Council”) for the lands to provide services and take over all governance. The Council may be controlled by non-Anangu, like Roxby Downs. This will result, in the longer term, in Anangu having nothing to say about services.

AP Services does not understand this and wrongly believes the Minister will make AP Services the regional service provider for the Lands with direct funding to Alice Springs and from there back into communities to spend as they wish. If Anangu lose the power to have something to say about service delivery, than Anangu will have to beg to the Council and/or funding body for a role on the Lands. There is nothing worse than having lost something which you already own. Be careful. Things cannot be taken away from Anangu unless they agree and consent.

It is completely untrue that service delivery on the Lands has been held up because APY has not granted permits to consultants. APY has been reliably informed that almost $1 million dollars has been paid by AP Services to consultants recently.

Three members were removed from the Executive Board. The Chairperson offered to have them back if they gave undertakings to the Executive Board to (1) attend Executive Board meetings unless given leave by the Executive Board; (2) abide by rulings of the Chairperson; and, (3) to comply with the code of conduct The Conciliator agreed and directed the three former members to give the undertakings and for APY to reinstate them if they give the undertakings. The three former members will be reinstated if they give the undertakings as directed by the Conciliator.

Bernard Singer, APY Chairperson