Longest special administration ends

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Selwyn Button, has today announced the end of the prolonged special administration of Ngallagunda Aboriginal Corporation.

The corporation was placed under special administration on 8 November 2016 after an examination of its books identified a range of governance issues. Compounding the issues were disputes with a former business partner and between members and officers, as well as serious doubts about financial viability.

Established in 1989, Ngallagunda Aboriginal Corporation is located in the Ngallagunda community of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The corporation has the pastoral lease for the Gibb River cattle station.

When it was placed under special administration, the corporation:

  • had almost no cash reserves, debts of around $300,000 and insufficient working capital to continue operating the cattle station
  • was a year behind in rent payments to the Western Australian government for the pastoral lease—around $11,500 per month
  • was in legal proceedings as a result of a long-standing business dispute.

Three major matters required attention before the corporation could be returned to members’ control: the dispute with its former joint venture business partner; recruitment of a new partner to manage the cattle station; and raising of sufficient capital to ensure long-term viability.

‘This special administration has certainly gone longer than anyone had anticipated,’ said Mr Button, ‘but ultimately, the issues were resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.’

The former business partner had claimed it was owed over $1 million in relation to the 2015 muster. Negotiations on that front were protracted, but the matter was settled outside the court and the agreed costs paid in full.

To manage the cattle operations on the station, Eco Pastoral has been engaged through a sublease for 10 years, with an option for a further 5 years. The first muster under the new agreement was completed in mid-2020 and resulted in the sale of 1106 head of cattle.

The agreement with Eco Pastoral also provides Ngallagunda with much-needed working capital. ‘Under the agreement, Ngallagunda will receive 20 per cent of cattle sales proceeds and an interest-free loan to cover historical debts’ said Mr Button. ‘It will also be free to conduct revenue-generating activities at the cattle station, such as tourism. So it’s a good solution for the corporation and the community.’

Background

See the Registrar’s previous media release, Registrar moves to support community, 8 November 2016

Media contact

Lisa Hugg 0477 762 290

ORIC MR2021-18
28 May 2021