Tickner orders Bamblett inquiry

Date: 21st June 1994
Publication: The Age

The federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Tickner, has ordered an investigation into allegations involving Mr Alf Bamblett, the Victorian commissioner on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

Mr Tickner wants to look at possible conflicts of interest and breaches of the code of conduct for commissioners.

The investigation is to be carried out by the commission's office of evaluation and audit, and will involve Mr Bamblett being interviewed.

The allegations were made in a letter sent to Mr Tickner on 2 May from a group of Victorian ATSIC regional councillors. It raised concerns about Mr Bamblett's involvement in several Victorian Aboriginal corporations.

Mr Tickner last night confirmed that he had ordered the investigation, but refused to give details of the specific allegations.

``Any allegations will be comprehensively investigated, and Alf Bamblett actively agrees that should occur," he said. ``Commissioner Bamblett strenuously denies all the allegations."

The letter to Mr Tickner followed revelations by `The Age' on 21 April of the involvement of Mr Bamblett and a small group of his relatives and friends with several key ATSIC-funded Aboriginal organisations in Victoria.

Mr Bamblett is a director of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, now in the hands of an administrator, the president of the Aborigines Advancement League, the public officer and a former chairman of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated, and on leave from his position as executive officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Incorporated.

`The Age' reported that the VACSAI had received $132,000 in ATSIC money in 1991, while it was deregistered by Victoria's Corporate Affairs office for failing to lodge annual returns. Mr Bamblett, who has been the Victorian ATSIC commissioner for four years, was also its executive officer at the time. It is believed that one of the allegations made to Mr Tickner involves the VACSAI payments.

`The Age' also reported in April that Mr Bamblett had resigned from his partnership in a private business called Koori Fleet Management in March because of a potentional conflict of interest.

Mr Bamblett has repeatedly denied any conflict of interest or breach of the ATSIC code covering the conduct of commissioners or councillors when potential conflicts arise.