NT Independent’s 2021 Year in Review – Part 3

by | Dec 30, 2021 | News | 0 comments

This is the third installment of the NT Independent’s Year in Review.

As we moved into July, the Darwin Turf Club grandstand scandal reached fever pitch, with questions moving from the club chairman’s involvement to what ministers knew what, who brought the flawed funding submission to Cabinet and why a senior public servant who was named in the report for engaging in a “duplicitous process” was then put in charge of overseeing the ICAC’s recommendations to ensure a spurious submission was never given public funds again.

While some questions were answered, the biggest ones still hang out there to this day, including why nothing has happened as a result of the ICAC investigation.

Then there were revelations of other media’s involvement in the whole scandal and allegations of preferential reporting for the Turf Club; some “friendly” connections between the Police Commissioner and the Turf Club that also went unaddressed by the commissioner as he confirmed public resources were used to investigate the NT Independent for breaking news stories; Gunner was accused by the police union of politicising the COVID-19 pandemic again; the government’s COVID-19 veneer started to crack; serious allegations were raised against a judge; the ICAC was referred by the Chief Minister to Parliament’s disciplinary committee over comments he made to another committee about employment contracts in his office; a deputy police commissioner came under fire for accidentally broadcasting ill-considered comments to Facebook; the Chief Minister declared he needed taxpayer funds to upgrade security at his home because he felt unsafe after anti-mandate rallies; and a pair of senior public servants who set up a gin joint had complaints filed about proper licensing and development processes not being followed for the establishment with those documents then coincidentally altered.

And nobody was held accountable for anything. Just another three months in the NT in 2021.

 

JULY

Turf Club recordings: Gunner found ‘solution’ to get $12 million grandstand money through Cabinet

EXCLUSIVE: Chief Minister Michael Gunner convinced Cabinet to approve $12 million of taxpayer money for the Darwin Turf Club by taking the decision “out of certain people’s hands”, a Turf Club board member and friend of Mr Gunner’s told the board just days after the grant was approved, recordings from the meeting reveal.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/gunner-found-solution-to-get-12-million-grandstand-money-through-cabinet-turf-club-recordings/

 

Female Corrections employee without duress alarm groped by ‘sex pest’ inmate in prison

A convicted sex offender in Holtze Prison attempted to grope and kiss a female civilian Correctional Services employee, who had not been defensively trained and did not have a duress alarm, despite several warnings to the agency of the dangers of the building they were in, sources have told the NT Independent.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/female-corrections-employee-without-duress-alarm-groped-by-sex-pest-inmate-in-prison/

 

‘Will do my absolute best to put a stop to this’: NT News editor Matt Williams’s Turf Club grandstand scandal pledge

Long-serving NT News editor Matt Williams is the mysterious “senior media figure” identified in the ICAC’s grandstand scandal investigation, sources have confirmed, who allegedly used the Territory’s only daily newspaper to provide favourable media coverage for the Darwin Turf Club and chairman Brett Dixon while the club faced scrutiny over the alleged misuse of public funds.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/will-do-my-absolute-best-to-put-a-stop-to-this-nt-news-editor-matt-williamss-turf-club-grandstand-scandal-pledge/

Turf Club chair Brett Dixon wrote ‘script’ intended for Katie Woolf in middle of scandal: ICAC report

Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon wrote a “draft script” for popular radio presenter Katie Woolf three weeks before he was interviewed by her “that included Mr Dixon’s views and response to negative media stories” regarding the controversial $12 million grandstand project, the ICAC report into the scandal has revealed.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/turf-club-chair-brett-dixon-wrote-script-intended-for-katie-woolf-in-middle-of-scandal-icac-report/

‘Funds were diverted from educational resources for personal enrichment’: ICAC finds former remote NT school principal engaged in corrupt conduct

A former Milingimbi school principal used more than half a million dollars intended for the education of Indigenous children to travel and dine out with friends and family, and also hired family members without permission, the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has found in a new report.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/funds-were-diverted-from-educational-resources-for-personal-enrichment-icac-finds-former-remote-nt-school-principal-engaged-in-corrupt-conduct/

New NT ICAC starts as questions remain over head public servant’s role in appointment

The Territory’s new Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has started in the job today, as questions continue to linger over head public servant Jodie Ryan’s role on the panel that selected him while connected to ongoing inquiries identified by the outgoing ICAC.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/new-nt-icac-starts-as-questions-remain-over-head-public-servants-role-in-appointment/

Gunner cancels meeting with federal Minister to defend government over growing grandstand scandal

Chief Minister Michael Gunner cancelled a meeting to discuss federal funding initiatives with newly sworn-in Minister for Northern Australia David Littleproud to defend his government’s approval of the $12 million grandstand grant on a local radio station.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/gunner-cancels-meeting-with-federal-minister-to-defend-government-in-growing-grandstand-scandal/

‘I was following instructions’: Chief Minister’s former chief of staff’s stunning claim to ICAC revealed

Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s former chief of staff Alf Leonardi was only “following instructions” while playing a key role in the Darwin Turf Club grandstand scandal, he told the ICAC as part of the investigation, raising new questions about the Chief Minister’s involvement.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/i-was-following-instructions-former-chief-ministers-chief-of-staffs-stunning-claim-to-icac-revealed/

Senior public servant who worked on grandstand proposal still in role despite findings of ‘deceptive’ conduct

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has not taken any action against senior public servant Shaun Drabsch, who the ICAC found engaged in “deceptive” conduct with former Labor powerbroker Alf Leonardi to ensure the $12 million publicly-funded Darwin Turf Club grandstand project was awarded a taxpayer grant.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/senior-public-servant-who-worked-on-grandstand-proposal-still-in-role-despite-findings-of-deceptive-conduct/

‘Labor’s dodgy dollars’: Opposition calls on Gunner to give Dixon donations to charity

Chief Minister Michael Gunner and his Labor government should give the $100,000 in donations received from companies owned by Brett Dixon in 2016 to charity if they are as angry about the grandstand scandal as they claim, the Opposition CLP say.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/labors-dodgy-dollars-opposition-calls-on-gunner-to-give-dixon-donations-to-charity/

Minister confirms Gunner rushed grandstand grant through Cabinet, Drabsch now overseeing ICAC recommendations despite ‘deceptive’ conduct

A second minister has confirmed Chief Minister Michael Gunner rushed the $12 million Darwin Turf Club grandstand grant through Cabinet himself and that the senior public servant who failed to warn Cabinet of the submission’s lack of details is now in charge of implementing the ICAC’s recommendations.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/minister-confirms-gunner-rushed-grandstand-grant-through-cabinet-drabsch-now-overseeing-icac-recommendations-despite-deceptive-conduct-findings/

Government silent on details of community movements of man with COVID-19

The movements in the community of a man who has now tested positive to COVID-19 “in the last 24 hours” but who arrived in Darwin on Tuesday onboard a yacht from Indonesia have not been provided to the public by the NT Health Department.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/government-silent-on-details-of-community-movements-of-man-with-covid-19/

Horse rorts: Dixon and Thoroughbred Racing NT board charged taxpayers $7500 per meeting, plus expenses

EXCLUSIVE: Thoroughbred Racing NT chairman Brett Dixon and deputy chair Syd Stirling charged taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to attend the peak racing body’s board meetings – which are arranged to coincide with different racing events across the NT – including costs for accommodation, hospitality and flights, the NT Independent can reveal.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/horse-rorts-dixon-and-thoroughbred-racing-nt-board-charged-taxpayers-7500-per-meeting-plus-expenses/

‘I’m saying that donations were made’: Fyles raises knowledge of Dixon-linked donations ahead of government funding decisions

Racing Minister Natasha Fyles appears to have been aware of a $100,000 donation to the NT Labor Party made by Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon’s companies in the lead up to the 2016 NT general election, but says it had nothing to do with the undisclosed five-year funding agreement the government gave the racing industry.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/im-saying-that-donations-were-made-fyles-downplays-dixon-linked-donations-in-gunner-government-funding-decisions/

‘Dodgy $12m grandstand grant tip of the iceberg’: Gunner Govt’s millions to horse racing questioned, possible breaches of funding agreement raised

EXCLUSIVE: The Gunner Government appears to have gifted more than $3 million to the NT’s peak horse racing body in its first budget – on top of an estimated $75 million five-year funding agreement – following a pre-election donation from companies owned by Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon, 2017 budget figures show.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/dodgy-12m-grandstand-grant-tip-of-the-iceberg-gunner-govts-millions-to-horse-racing-questioned-possible-breaches-of-funding-agreement-raised/

Manison says $12m grandstand grant followed ‘normal process’ despite ICAC corruption findings, Gunner doing ‘fantastic job’

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has been dodging media interviews on local radio stations despite feeling no pressure from his caucus colleagues, his deputy says, over his handling of the $12 million Darwin Turf Club grandstand grant.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/manison-says-12m-grandstand-grant-followed-normal-process-despite-icac-corruption-findings-gunner-doing-fantastic-job/

‘I have been subjected to a witch hunt’: Dixon releases statement on ICAC corruption findings

Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon has issued another statement to members Monday evening, claiming that he is the victim of a “witch hunt” and is now compelled to tell “the real story”, while also claiming to have filed a Supreme Court action to have the ICAC’s “corrupt conduct” findings against him quashed.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/i-have-been-subjected-to-a-witch-hunt-dixon-releases-statement-on-icac-corruption-findings/

Former Darwin Turf Club board member appointed to chair another taxpayer-funded board

EXCLUSIVE: A disgraced Darwin Turf Club board member who was forced to resign by Chief Minister Michael Gunner for “improper conduct”, has been appointed chair of another government-funded board that her company has previously had contracts with, the NT Independent can reveal.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/former-darwin-turf-club-board-member-appointed-to-chair-another-taxpayer-funded-board/

Revealed: Here’s the full ‘spurious’ submission the Gunner Government doesn’t want you to see

EXCLUSIVE: The NT Independent has obtained the full Darwin Turf Club submission Chief Minister Michael Gunner relied on to convince Cabinet to approve $12 million of taxpayer money for the grandstand, less than a day after receiving the document that the ICAC called “ill-informed and spurious”.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/revealed-heres-the-full-spurious-submission-the-gunner-government-used-to-award-12-million-of-public-funds-for-the-grandstand/

‘Chairman’s friend’: Police commissioner Chalker received gifts of hospitality from Brett Dixon, Turf Club

EXCLUSIVE: NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker, who internal Darwin Turf Club records show was invited to racing events as the “chairman’s friend”, has confirmed police resources are being used to investigate the NT Independent based on allegations made by former chairman Brett Dixon.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/chairmans-friend-police-commissioner-chalker-received-gifts-of-hospitality-from-brett-dixon-turf-club/

AUGUST

Police Superintendent stops COVID-19 fines at ‘freedom’ rally claiming non-existent permit: Source

NT Police officers wanted to fine Darwin ‘freedom’ protesters for not wearing masks or social distancing but their Superintendent stopped them, saying they were protected by a permit issued by the Northern Land Council, a permit the organisation says did not and could not exist, a well-placed source has told the NT Independent.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/police-superintendent-stops-covid-19-fines-at-freedom-rally-claiming-non-existent-permit-source/

‘Sickening attack’: Father of teen nearly killed in unprovoked shopping centre assault calls for action

The father of a 14-year-old boy who had his skull fractured and was rushed to hospital in a critical condition after an unprovoked and “sickening attack” at Casuarina shopping centre over the weekend, says the government needs to take immediate action to keep the public safe from young offenders.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/sickening-attack-father-of-teen-nearly-killed-in-unprovoked-shopping-centre-assault-calls-for-action/

Taxi driver forced into quarantine says NT Health did not tell him passenger had COVID-19

A taxi driver has said he was forced into Howard Springs quarantine and missed two weeks of work after the Northern Territory Government engaged him to drive a man infected with the Delta strain of COVID-19 to the facility without telling him of the man’s infected status, and also allowed him to take regular passengers until his shift finished.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/taxi-driver-forced-into-quarantine-says-nt-health-did-not-tell-him-passenger-had-covid-19/

‘How dare you’: Gunner scolded for politicising pandemic to win votes again

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has insulted frontline pandemic workers and should “apologise immediately” for once again politicising the global COVID-19 pandemic to win votes, says the union representing the Territory’s police officers.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/how-dare-you-gunner-scolded-for-politicising-pandemic-to-win-votes-again/

Fleming referred to Privileges Committee, Lambley says ‘no confidence’ in politically motivated committee

Retired ICAC Ken Fleming has been referred to Parliament’s disciplinary committee by the Chief Minister for comments he made regarding a former employee at Estimates hearings in June, in an urgent motion that took precedence over all other business in Parliament this morning.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/fleming-referred-to-privileges-committee-lambley-says-no-confidence-in-politically-motivated-committee/

New ICAC releases public statement following ‘media speculation’

Newly appointed Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Michael Riches has issued an extraordinary public statement following allegations about the integrity of his office made by the NT News and Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/new-icac-releases-public-statement-following-media-speculation/

Senior Gunner Government adviser hit by car, recovering from head injury

Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s former communications adviser and “best mate” was knocked unconscious and suffered a reported head injury after being struck by a car in Darwin on Sunday night, sources confirmed to the NT Independent.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/senior-gunner-government-adviser-hit-by-car-recovering-from-head-injury/

Misconduct allegations against Justice Stephen Southwood revealed

EXCLUSIVE: Serious misconduct allegations against NT Supreme Court Justice Stephen Southwood should result in his “removal as a judge”, says a prominent Darwin lawyer who has filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/misconduct-allegations-against-justice-stephen-southwood-revealed/

SEPTEMBER

Aboriginal prisoner hanged himself while in custody at Darwin’s Holtze prison: Corrections sources

The 31-year-old male prisoner who was found dead in his cell at Darwin’s Holtze prison on Monday is believed to have hanged himself with a bed sheet off his bunk, sources have told the NT Independent.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/aboriginal-prisoner-hanged-himself-while-in-custody-at-darwins-holtze-prison-corrections-sources/

New NT COVID plan to see mandatory vaccine for most workers, ‘freedom pass’ touted

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has announced his five-point plan for how the Territory will respond to COVID-19 once 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, which will see non-vaccinated Territorians restricted from the same freedoms vaccinated people will enjoy, with workers in many fields including hospitality and retail forced to get the jab.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/new-nt-covid-plan-to-see-mandatory-vaccine-for-most-workers-freedom-pass-touted/

 

Deputy police commissioner apologises for ‘murder’ comment, calls for resignation mount

Deputy Police Commissioner Murray Smalpage has issued an apology after “inadvertently” recording himself suggesting that a group of police officers should be called a “murder” and live-streaming it to Facebook.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/deputy-police-commissioner-apologises-for-murder-comment-calls-for-resignation-mount/

Complaint lodged against Willing Distillery and Bar run by senior public servants

Two senior public servants involved in a new gin distillery and bar appear to have breached their liquor licence by failing to obtain the necessary building permits and safety approvals, according to public records and a formal complaint filed with the NT Government.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/complaint-lodged-against-willing-distillery-and-bar-run-by-senior-public-servants/

Gunner says taxpayer-funded home security upgrades due to ‘stalking scenario’, not ‘normal crime’ fears

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has told Parliament he was forced to charge taxpayers for security upgrades at his home because he is the victim of a “stalking-type scenario”, not because of “a normal crime situation”.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/gunner-says-taxpayer-funded-home-security-upgrades-due-to-stalking-scenario-not-normal-crime-fears/

Senior public servants’ liquor licence mysteriously altered after alleged breaches made public

A liquor licence granted to a distillery and bar run by two senior public servants has been altered to remove a condition it was alleged to have breached, the day after the matter was made public, the NT Independent can reveal.

READ FULL STORY:

https://ntindependent.com.au/senior-public-servants-liquor-licence-mysteriously-altered-after-alleged-breaches-made-public/

 

 

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