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Winning back trust

When Greg Hunt appointed Gregory Andrews to be our first ‘Threatened Species Commissioner’ in July last year, few people other than Chris Graham at New Matilda paid any attention.

Andrews has a very dubious past. On June 21, 2006 he appeared on a Lateline story, entitled ‘Sexual slavery reported in Indigenous community’. He was incorrectly described as a “former youth worker” and his identity was hidden.

At the time, Andrews was an Assistant Secretary in the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, and was advising then Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, on violence in Central Australian Aboriginal communities. Andrews told Lateline Aboriginal men were trading petrol for sex with young girls, and that children were being held against their will and traded between communities as “sex slaves”.

Andrews cried during the interview, saying he had made numerous reports to police but had withdrawn them in fear for his safety.

This was revealed to be a lie. No such reports were made and a lengthy police investigation found “no evidence whatsoever” to support Andrews’ claims.

Andrews also had to apologise for misleading a 2006 federal Senate Inquiry in Petrol Sniffing in remote Aboriginal communities. Andrews told parliament that he lived in Mutitjulu for nine months, when in fact he lived 20 kilometres away, at the five star Ayers Rock tourist resort. He also told Senators: “Young people were hanging themselves off the church steeple on Sunday and their mothers were having to cut them down.” Police confirmed at the time that no child has ever hung themselves from the Mutitjulu church, nor has a mother ever had to cut her child down.

The woman who blew the whistle on Andrews’ lies, Tjanara Goreng Goreng, was later convicted of leaking government information, sacked and bankrupted. Andrews was a key witness in the case.

Greg Hunt was aware of all this when he appointed Andrews who was, at the time, managing implementation of biodiversity conservation programmes, including management and evaluation of National Landcare Programme and 20 Million Trees initiatives.

One reason for this story resurfacing is the image of Andrews’ old boss and architect of the Northern Territory Intervention, Mal Brough, walking alongside Malcolm Turnbull during the leadership spill, an image which sent a chill down the spines of Aboriginal Australians.

Speculation is rife as to what role Brough will play in Turnbull’s new cabinet. One rumour was that he wanted health. Chris Graham conjectures that Brough may be interested in the environment portfolio. Mining giant Adani has employed David Moore, Brough’s ex-chief of staff, as one of its key lobbyists. Or perhaps defence, being an ex-military man.

We will know soon enough if Brough is to be promoted. It seems a judge finding that he abused the judicial process for the “purpose of causing significant public, reputational and political damage to Mr Slipper,” and the disgraceful debacle where Julia Gillard was described in very unflattering sexist terms on a menu at a Brough fundraiser, have done nothing to hinder his political resurrection.

If the government wants to win back the trust of the people, promoting liars and cheats is not a good way to start.


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  1. corvus boreus

    Having folk like Mal Brough and Arthur Sinodinos in his flanking entourage does make the new PM look decidedly dodgy.
    Just how shonky and sketchy does this Mal-administration intend to be?

  2. Kaye Lee

    Sinodinis is smart at least. Neither side can go hard on integrity because they all think wheeling dealing is ok. Shorten no doubt used his union position to advance his own power base. Sinodinis is guilty of ‘overlooking’ concerns in the pursuit of potential personal profit. Power and profit is the motivation for many of our politicians – it’s we ordinary people who thinks ethics and integrity more important.

  3. brickbob

    I too had an awful moment when i saw Brough behind Turnbull after the knifing of Abbott,the man is despicable and will hitch himself to any leader to further his rotten career.

  4. Ricardo29

    I’m joining the club of those whose spirits sank when I saw Brough so close to Turnbull. Not that I am enamoured with Turnbull anyway but Brough is a nasty piece of work. Of course you can find some Aboriginal people who support stil the intervention but to my mind it was a heavy handed response to an overblown problem.

  5. Kaye Lee


    I am no expert on Aboriginal affairs but I have a lot of experience in dealing with troubled teenagers. You can’t punish someone into co-operation. You can’t make someone feel good about themselves by taking all control away from them. There must be choice and a degree of self-determination. We have to provide what is needed to give this to communities. We should be asking rather than telling and we should stop choosing for Aboriginal people who will represent them.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Ministry to be announced in about ten minutes.

  7. corvus boreus

    The appointment of super-salesman Josh Freydenberg as minister for resource, and the inclusion of the ‘ANDEV’ agenda, was very interesting (disturbing).
    Methinks Mal might have Gina’s backing.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Though not mentioned by Turnbull (is that significant?) Brough is in as Defence Materiel and Science Minister

  9. Kaye Lee

    Also, oooo ahhh James McGrath of dirt file fame has been promoted to Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister…also not mentioned.

  10. Kaye Lee

    And in the ultimate insult, that self-labelled non-feminist haradin Michaelia “I like men” Cash has been appointed Minister for Women.

  11. Kyran

    Both of the articles cited from Mr Graham are examples of all that is wrong with the current political climate. Mediocrity is the ‘high mark’. Incompetence is not only excused, but is accepted as ‘normal’. Ignorance is celebrated as some sort of opiate, ‘we’ll be right, mate’.
    RN’s broadcast of ‘Background Briefing’ today pertained to “Paperless Arrests”. It documents the wanton destruction of a legal system by the politicians in the NT. It is a sickening example of politician’s citing ‘anecdotal’ information as fact whilst decrying any evidence based opposition as nonsense. I hadn’t realised the NT government was the only one not to front the recent Senate enquiry. Their reason? There have been enough enquiries!
    “If the government wants to win back the trust of the people, promoting liars and cheats is not a good way to start.”
    Well said, Ms Lee. Take care

  12. Kaye Lee

    Brough, as the minister for Defence Materiel, has potentially hundreds of billions at his disposal. This is the man who took $100,000 from the Aboriginal Benefits Account – Aboriginal-owned money from Northern Territory mining royalties – and spent it in his own Queensland electorate of Longman, on the Woodford Folk Festival. That was while Brough was publicly flogging Aboriginal leaders for irresponsible spending of mining royalties. Or there was the $4 million he took from the ABA – money intended to promote economic development – to upgrade the publicly-owned Alice Springs swimming pool.

    He is to be our science minister. This is the man who oversaw the Home Ownership on Indigenous Lands program which cost $10 million of taxpayer’s money to administer just 15 loans worth $2.7 million

    Could I also question why Marise Payne has been made defence minister but the man has been made minister for materiel which are arguably the biggest decisions defence ministers have to make.

  13. triestegal

    Kaye [sp: harridan]
    And I too am v. concerned

  14. johnlward010

    Brough is a known conspirator during Gillard’s government who used the lowest methods to bring down Slipper and Gillard. An ex Army officer who should have demonstrated a character with some decency and honour, yet lied his way into an intervention to get himself some notoriety and kudos.
    Black Australians are the equal of every other citizen of this nation and deserve better than this from any government. How about we have a minister for remote and regional communities, not for racial reasons but because distance imposes a whole set of responsibilities to bring good government services to out-back Australians.
    When we all acknowledge that our nation’s history goes back almost 150,000 years to the first nation peoples, and we also set out deliberately to record that history, law and language are a matter of urgency and of scholarly value to each university across Australia.
    These are matters for our collective and national self respect.

  15. corvus boreus

    Methinks, in the case of Michaela Cash’s promotion, the harridan has been upgraded to a full-fledged harpy.
    The Malbrough man will find much opportunity for acquisition in his new post dealing with the arms traders.
    Congratulations to P-Duds for retaining the Immigration and blackshirt portfolio in reward for previous stellar performance.

    The full cabinet list of the new Mal-administration;

  16. helvityni

    Kaye Lee, Bishop helped Turnbull to get in, now it’s pay-back time for Mal: Michaelia and Cormann are from the West as is Julie. It’s not about talent or suitability but who got you in. Sad.

  17. Keitha Granville

    It is also about keeping your enemies close I think. A disgrace that Mal Brough has been rewarded – must be a few skeletons in that closet methinks.
    And of course they have put a man in the defence area as well – couldn’t leave all that important guns and shooting stuff to a mere slip of a girl !

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