Bamblett says suggestion of influence `an insult'

Date: 20th September 1995
Publication: The Age

The former Victorian ATSIC commissioner, Mr Alf Bamblett, yesterday denied he was influencing the board of the troubled Aboriginal Legal Service.

Mr Bamblett, the executive officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association, said he had ``no desire to be on the board and no desire to tell the board how it should be running things".

He said suggestions that he led a faction that influenced the service's seven directors were an insult because it implied board members were ``mindless puppets".

``My life is very full and I don't think I have the time to be pulling strings on other people's lives," Mr Bamblett said. ``The suggestion Alf Bamblett is directing the traffic is insane."

The service has been crippled by a dispute between its Koori board and its non-Aboriginal chief executive officer, Mr John Lanigan. Mr Lanigan has said the board told him he faces the sack if he does not promote a legal service employee to a new deputy manager's position.

The employee, Mr Herb Pettit, is on suspension with full pay after being named in the Viner report on alleged misconduct by Mr Bamblett.

Mr Bamblett said he had no desire to see Mr Pettit promoted, and did not believe problems at the legal service were related to the proposed appointment.

He said he believed board members were concerned Mr Lanigan's contract took too much control of the service away from Aborigines.

Mr Bamblett denied that the board would meet at the VACSAI office before attending legal service meetings, and said links between some board members and the association were irrelevant.

The Age was unable to contact board members yesterday.