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Geoff Clark, ex-ATSIC chief facing $2million fraud charges, threatens senator Jacinta Price

The ex-boss of the final Indigenous advisory physique to Parliament is preventing fees he defrauded an Aboriginal organisation of $2million.

Geoff Clark, 69, was the chief of ATSIC, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fee, when it was shut down by the federal government in 2004.

He’s dealing with 380 fees of fraud and deception for allegedly misappropriating authorities funds for Indigenous teams between 2000 and 2010. 

However he lashed out on Twitter when Indigenous senator Jacinta Value attacked ATSIC on ABC’s Q+A Voice to Parliament particular on Monday evening.

He instantly threatened to sue the senator over the allegation, warning: ‘I believe there’s a defamation case right here, Jacinta.’

Geoff Clark, the ex-boss of ATSIC, the last Indigenous advisory body to Parliament, is fighting charges he fleeced an Aboriginal group of $2million

Geoff Clark, the ex-boss of ATSIC, the final Indigenous advisory physique to Parliament, is preventing fees he fleeced an Aboriginal group of $2million

Burly white-haired Clark will return to Victorian County Court docket on August 18, 4 days earlier than his seventieth birthday, for a listening to to set a date for his trial on the fraud fees.

On Monday, a warrant was issued for the arrest of his son, Aaron Clark, 41, after he failed to seem in court docket on a cost of creating a false doc. 

His spouse Trudy, 66, and one other son Jeremy, 49, additionally face plenty of related, associated fees. Police initially laid greater than 1100 fees in opposition to the members of the family.

A number of hundred fees in opposition to Clark and his members of the family have since been dropped, however lots of nonetheless stay, The Age reported final 12 months.

Clark denies defrauding Framlingham Aboriginal Belief and different Indigenous neighborhood teams in south-west Victoria of $2million.

He’s accused of utilizing a few of the money for his personal functions, together with $550,000 on authorized charges, and paying for a ‘lavish’ deck at his residence in Framlingham.

However a lot of the rest of the money is allegedly nonetheless mendacity in Aboriginal neighborhood accounts and belongings he controls.

Geoff Clark (pictured with his wife Trudy, left) is facing 380 charges of fraud and deception for allegedly misappropriating government funds for Indigenous groups between 2000 and 2010

Geoff Clark (pictured together with his spouse Trudy, left) is dealing with 380 fees of fraud and deception for allegedly misappropriating authorities funds for Indigenous teams between 2000 and 2010

He was first charged in reference to the alleged fraud in 2018 however branded the investigation a ‘witch hunt’ which was performed for political functions.

On the peak of his energy, Clark earned $240,000 a 12 months as ATSIC chairman, presiding over a $1billion a 12 months finances, after working his approach up Indigenous management roles.

The son of an Aboriginal girl and a Scottish dockworker, Clark was raised by his grandmother and shortly shone as a teenage boxer.

He snubbed a profession in sport to change into an Aboriginal activist, regardless of being perceived as a ‘white blackfella’ due to his pale pores and skin.

However his reign because the nation’s strongest Aboriginal chief was reduce quick.

After being elected ATSIC chairman in 2000 after becoming a member of in 1996, the fee was rocked by a number of controversies which led to it being disbanded and abolished. 

Clark was defiant within the face of the accusations and was re-elected in 2002, insisting: ‘There could also be allegations, however that is all they’re – allegations.’ 

However Prime Minister John Howard stripped a few of ATSIC’s energy and finances in 2003 and in 2004, Labor joined a bipartisan push for it to be scrapped.

Senator Jacinta Price used the example of ATSIC as a warning over the consequences of the government's referendum on setting up a new Indigenous advisory body

Senator Jacinta Value used the instance of ATSIC as a warning over the results of the federal government’s referendum on establishing a brand new Indigenous advisory physique

Senator Value used the instance of ATSIC as a warning over the results of the federal government’s referendum on establishing a brand new Indigenous advisory physique.

Labor’s Voiced to Parliament proposal would enshrine the brand new advisory board within the structure, which might require one other referendum to take away it in future years.

‘We will all get on board with recognition, however I do not belief a forms to be enshrined in our Structure,’ the previous mayor of Alice Springs instructed the Garma Competition-themed Q+A on Monday night.

‘There’s numerous Indigenous organisations which can be government-funded to have the duty to advance Indigenous Australians.

‘There are numerous which have gone into administration due to corruption. There’s accountability available by Indigenous organisations. 

 ‘Much less forms versus extra forms is definitely what creates financial independence,’ the Nation Liberal senator for Northern Territory added.

‘The flexibility to face on one’s two ft, and never simply fully primarily based in your id as an Indigenous individual, however merely simply as a human being.’

ATSIC’S CONTROVERSIAL HISTORY

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Fee was the most recent in a line of failed Indigenous advisory boards.

It was created by Bob Hawke’s Labour authorities in 1990 out of the ashes of the Nationwide Aboriginal Convention. 

The NAC – itself shaped out of the Nationwide Aboriginal Consultative Committee, shaped by the Whitlam Authorities in 1973 – was riven by division and clashes with the federal government by the point it collapsed in 1985.

ATSIC was to set as much as to advise Governments in any respect ranges, present peak nationwide and worldwide advocacy for Australian Indigenous affairs, and ship and monitor Indigenous packages and companies.

It was made up of 35 regional councils with over 400 councillors, the ATSIC Board with 18 zone commissioners, and an elected chairman. 

The behemoth billion-dollar-a-year company was additionally backed up by a number of hundred public servants who did all of the analysis and helped draft coverage.

Nevertheless it was wracked by controversy and in 1996 Pauline Hanson referred to as for it to be abolished in her maiden speech.

It was additionally criticised for its lack of autonomy and that its coverage recommendation was ignored by the federal government. 

Others mentioned it was not correctly consultant of the Indigenous neighborhood

It might survive for an additional eight years however the ultimate nail in its coffin got here when Labor joined the decision for it to be abolished, 14 years after it was created by a Labor authorities.

It was changed by the hand-picked 12-member Nationwide Indigenous Council however that didn’t survive past the election of Kevin Rudd’s Labor authorities in 2007.

The Uluru Assertion From The Coronary heart requires an Indigenous Voice to Parliament which will likely be locked into the Structure to guard it from being axed politically. 

Labor has proposed a referendum on the query earlier than the top of 2023.

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