In the wake of the recent federal court decision that saw ANZ Group Holdings penalised A$15 million for misleading its customers, questions are being raised about the accountability of other institutions in Australia.

And one such query pertains to the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and a complaint lodged against Charles Lynch under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

The ANZ case has set a precedent in the corporate world, highlighting the importance of transparency and the consequences of misleading the public.

With the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) playing a pivotal role in bringing the banking giant to account because of ANZ’s misleading information that led to customers being charged thousands of dollars in fees, with the bank now in the process of remediation.

Given this backdrop, there is growing anticipation about how the Registrar of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act will respond to the complaint against Charles Lynch potentially misleading the public by stating that “NSWALC is the largest member based Aboriginal organisation in NSW” despite only having 9 members in total.

And to put things in context, the Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land Council in rural Gunnedah, NSW, boasts around 500 members, surpassing the membership of NSWALC itself.

The public is keen to see if the Registrar will take a leaf out of ASIC’s book and hold NSWALC accountable for any misleading actions, ensuring that justice is served and that there is a level playing field for all institutions, irrespective of their domain.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act is a significant piece of legislation for Aboriginal Land Councils, and any breach or misleading action under this act can have profound implications for the Aboriginal community, making it imperative for the Registrar to act decisively and transparently.

So will the Registrar ensure that the NSWALC is held to the same standards as other institutions in Australia?

Because the ANZ case has shown that no organisation is above the law, and this ethos is hoped to be applied consistently across all sectors, including Aboriginal Affairs NSW.

So in conclusion, as Australia grapples with corporate and government accountability issues, the spotlight is now on the Registrar of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

The public awaits a response that upholds the principles of justice, transparency, and fairness, ensuring that all institutions, whether in banking or government Indigenous Affairs departments, are held to the same rigorous standards.

Charles Lynch Potentially Misleading Claim

Councillor Charles Lynch, Councillor at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)

Reply: Nicole Courtman, Interim Registrar Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983

Complaint re Cr Lynch

I have considered the statement made by Cr Lynch in relation to the membership of NSWALC. It is my understanding that Cr Lynch’s comments about the membership of NSWALC are intended to refer to the fact that NSWALC is the largest Aboriginal representative body in New South Wales whereby the members of all Local Aboriginal Land Councils vote to elect NSWALC Councillors.

I do not consider that Cr Lynch has made a misleading statement, breached the Code of Conduct or otherwise engaged in “misconduct” under the ALRA.
On this basis, I have decided not to conduct an investigation into this matter (the Registrar can make this decision under section 192(1)(a) of the ALRA).

Yours sincerely
Nicole Courtman
Interim Registrar
Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983

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