By Sally Brooks
The president of a single of Darwin’s oldest Aboriginal communities says it has been proposed it freeholds and sell some land to pay off a debt to the Power and Water Corporation.
Founded in 1938, Bagot Neighborhood was formed to take the place of the Kahlin Compound for Aboriginal folks in Darwin.
Bagot is about six kilometres from Darwin CBD and residence to about 400 Aboriginal folks from around the Northern Territory.
Bagot Community Incorporated went into voluntary administration in October, owing $ 701,692.30 in unpaid water and sewerage bills to Energy and Water Corporation (PWC).
- Bagot enters voluntary administration in October, due to unpaid water and sewerage bills
- Community demands investigation into the debt and has been trying because 2011 to realize fluctuating quarterly PWC bills
- Bagot president says Dave Tollner told their administrator the only way to clear the bill “was by freeholding land”
- Mr Tollner has extended called for Bagot to be “normalised”
The neighborhood has mentioned it has been attempting to sort out difficulties with water usage considering that 2011 and want an investigation into the bill.
Community president Helen Fejo-Frith stated the administrator, from Meertens Charted Accountants, had met with Treasurer Dave Tollner.
“He told us that Mr Tollner stated the only way we could clear that bill was by freeholding land on the neighborhood. But he said if we freehold 1 location, the complete region has to be freehold.
“We mentioned we never want that.”
Meertens’ administrator Austin Taylor stated there had been some confusion around freeholding the land, and the original thought came from the community.
“The 1st meeting we had they were the ones who recommended that they would need to have to freehold some land to spend off the debt,” he mentioned.
“The situation then became how significantly of the land became freeholded since it is all on a single lease in perpetuity. The entire 23 hectares.
“And so to freehold component of it you are going to have to surrender the lease and then either freehold all of it or have one more lease issued.”
Mr Tollner declined to comment and will meet with the neighborhood on Wednesday.
Treasurer’s long-term program to ‘normalise’ Bagot
The Treasurer and Member for Fong Lim has long held aspirations to create Bagot Neighborhood.
In a newsletter from 2012 – titled the “Tollner Telegraph” – Mr Tollner said the Country Liberals celebration (CLP) was committed to “normalising” Bagot.
He mentioned then he wanted to sub-divide the land so any person could purchase a home.
In October, in a statement to the ABC, Mr Tollner mentioned the CLP Government had won a mandate at the last election to transform Bagot into a “gorgeous and vibrant suburb”.
Ms Fejo-Frith said the community was unhappy the administrator had been meeting with Mr Tollner offered these views.
But Mr Taylor stated he had been meeting with Mr Tollner for a number of causes, including because he is the regional member, the Treasurer and the Lands and Organizing Minister.
“So he has an interest in Energy and Water and the debt troubles, and he is also really passionate about helping the men and women of Bagot. He really does want to attempt and assist them,” he stated.
“The Bagot neighborhood have a view on what they want and the Minister clearly has a view which is effectively known.
“We are piggy in the middle. We are attempting to negotiate or mediate some sort of frequent ground here to get an outcome that functions for everybody.
“We are not wedded to any specific perspective, we are entirely independent in all of this. We are not pushing anyone’s barrow. We are attempting to sort the difficulty out and spend the bills.”
Confusion more than bills right after water meters installed
The neighborhood has been functioning to acquire clarity around water bills because 2011, when water meters had been installed.
Bagot Community Incorporated (BCI) member Marita Mummery stated the community’s quarterly water bill had spiked drastically.
“We were obtaining quarterly bills of $ eight,000 dollars, for it to suddenly jump to $ 30,000 plus, that is a big concern,” she said.
BCI secretary Natalie Harwood stated it was the community’s accountant that suggested BCI go into administration to sort out the water bill.
“Even our accountants could not tell us exactly where we have been at with Power and Water,” she mentioned.
“I imply they could tell us how we are owing but they couldn’t tell us who paid what or what money has come from exactly where.”
Mr Taylor mentioned he was searching at the bills and was aware of conflicting views on the accounts.
“They are been looked at by a large quantity of men and women and no one can appear to get to the bottom of what is going on with it.”
In a statement, PWC mentioned all consumer information was “industrial in-self-assurance”.
“Energy and Water does not personal or keep the water infrastructure within the neighborhood,” stated a PWC spokesperson.
She stated “some meters have been installed within the neighborhood” as portion of Division of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs funding, and Power and Water had been “reading these meters to aid enhance awareness about water use”.
“Bagot Community Inc has an outstanding bill for water and sewerage solutions and Energy and Water representatives have met with community representatives on a number of occasions to discuss payment options. This is now in the hands of the receiver,” the spokesperson mentioned.
A public meeting to discuss the future of the community is set to be held at 10:00am on December 12 at Bagot Neighborhood hall.
Topics: indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, indigenous-policy, government-and-politics, bagot-0820