ICAC investigates Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council after audit by PKF Lawler

TIGHT LIPPED: Aboriginal Affairs Minister Sarah Mitchell said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ICAC investigation into Awabakal's finances. Picture: Nick Moir

TIGHT LIPPED: Aboriginal Affairs Minister Sarah Mitchell said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ICAC investigation into Awabakal's finances. Picture: Nick Moir

THE STATE’S corruption watchdog has been asked to investigate the finances of the Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council, less than 12 months after the troubled organisation was placed into administration by the state government. 

The Newcastle Herald understands accounting firm PKF Lawler made the decision to refer the land council to the Independent Commission Against Corruption after discovering a number of irregularities during an audit of its financial statements.

The results of the audit were recently presented to a meeting of Awabakal members. 

Administrator Terry Lawler did not respond when contacted by the Herald and a PKF Lawler spokesperson said it was unable to comment on the matter. 

Mr Lawler was installed as administrator last October, following an investigation into the land council commissioned by the state government. 

Then Aboriginal Affairs Minister Leslie Williams found a period of administration was necessary to restore proper governance after numerous breaches of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. 

However the report, by forensic investigator Kelvin Kenney, was never made public. It is unclear what action, if any, has been taken against individuals involved in the breaches. 

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Sarah Mitchell said it would be inappropriate to comment while the matter was under ICAC investigation. 

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