Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Use of ABA appropriate

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today rejected allegations he had misused the Aboriginal Benefit Account.

“A grant through the ABA was provided to The Dreaming Festival to provide for the participation of Northern Territory artists at this major national event,” Mr Brough said.

“I’m advised that, as a consequence of their involvement in The Dreaming in 2006, several NT Indigenous artists secured overseas bookings.

“The ABA is intended to provide funds for the benefit of Indigenous Northern Territorians and this is exactly what occurred.

“I received a request for assistance. I referred that request to the Advisory Committee on the ABA, as is the normal process.

“I approved the expenditure after receiving advice from the Committee and it being recommended by my department.

“The fact that the funding was listed in an annual report under ceremonial activities was a minor administrative error within my department.

“The Dreaming is a major Indigenous cultural festival, as I understand it, originating from a similar festival staged in conjunction with the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

“The significance of the event is demonstrated by the fact that the Queensland Government also contributed $250,000 to the festival in 2006.

“To suggest I have secured any political benefit from the staging of the festival is ridiculous, especially when the location is not in the new boundaries which I will be contesting at the upcoming election.

“This request for funding was treated no differently to any similar request.”