Peter Allen Chairman of Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association

Update 29th July 2010:  response from Minister Gail Gago, MLC.
Update 29th July 2010:  letter from Flinders Ranges resident to Minister Gago.
Update 2 August 2010: letter from APOMA to Minister Gail Gago, MLC

In a letter to Minister Gail Gago, the  Chairman of the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association, Peter Allen states: “When the Outback Communities (Administration and Management) Act 2009 was first introduced, Andamooka lent full support to it’s passage through Parliament.

We offered this support because we fully believed in the Act’s value and the benefits it could offer to outback communities. Further more we trusted the content to be accurate and genuine.
The selection of the new Authority members has shown our trust to have been totally misplaced.
Mr Allen stated in his letter, “Your publication states that “at least four of the members must be from different outback communities” and this created an expectation in the outback that at least 4 of the new members would reside in outback communities.

The reality however is very different. Only one of the new members could be genuinely accepted as coming from an outback community and in fact there are no members appointed from anywhere West of the Flinders Ranges who in our opinion would qualify.

This probably leaves greater than 80% of the unincorporated areas totally unrepresented and by definition leaves your new Authority unrepresentative of the vast majority of residents in the unincorporated areas.
Discussions with other outback communities lead us to the conclusion that we are not alone in our concerns.
With this in mind my Committee (APOMA) have instructed me to advise your office that we will not recognise your new Authority nor will we be managed by an unrepresentative Board with no real knowledge of, or ties to the outback”, Peter Allen wrote.

Mr. Allen further stated in an interview: “It seems that one member who was appointed by the minister does lives on a station within an unincorporated area, however her nearest community is a council area and  therefore she is not specicifcally associated with any outback community.

Another member also appointed by the minister has recently moved to the outback from the eastern states with no personal knowledge of this region.  Another appointee is now living in Adelaide after leaving the outback over four years ago.

The community feeling is that these surprising appointments remove objectivity and the ability or the desire to advocate for outback communities. This gives the appearance of a very compliant government authority.

Outback residents living in remote areas now feel that there has been a breach of trust of the people of this state which is clearly not representing the people it pertains to”.

29th July 2010 – Response from Minister Gail Gago, MLC

29th July 2010. Correspondence from  Andamooka Opal Miners Association (APOMA) following a meeting with state government represenative Mick Petrovski on the matter of the Outback Authority situation.

Dear Minister Gago

Thank you for arranging a meeting between my committee and Mick Petrovski which concluded a few hours ago.

While much of the discussion was useful it is unfortunate that we ultimately had to agree to disagree over the “at least four of the new authority members will come from outback communities” section of the act.

It is still our view that this requirement has not been fairly met nor the selections particularly well thought out. It is also interesting to note that at least six other communities have expressed the same concerns thus far and it is further likely more will also follow. With this in mind it seems logical that many people from the outback believe, whether by design or accident, they have been misled.

This represents a most unfortunate start to the new Authority where trust must play a paramount part in moving forward.

As a result my committee instructs me to advise you as Minister that our previously stated position remains unchanged.

It is our wish to see this matter resolved, not only for Andamooka but for every member of outback communities in the unincorporated region of the State. We believe a resolution is only possible if OCA appointments are made within the terms of reference of the act, as perceived by community members.

There is however one upside to this situation in that it has galvanised the townspeople of Andamooka and our membership numbers have escalated remarkably.

Yours sincerely
Peter Allen. Chairman

(Andamooka Progress & Opal Miners Association)
PO Box 246 ANDAMOOKA SA 5722
Phone: (08) 8672 7152

29th July 2010 Letter sent to Minister Gail Gago by Copley – Flinders Ranges resident

Honorable Minister Gago,

I am writing as an individual to express my support for the Andamooka Community.

I also note that correspondence from myself ( as Public Officer) to your office and from the old OACDT has not been responded.

A response was received from the Attorney General but this response did not address the questions/issues that I raised.

Minister Gago, the OACDT acted with mischief in this community and has disrupted the business of the towns management. That the management of the OACDT were unable to answer letters or return phone calls does nothing to allay these concerns.

While there is a need of course for Outback residents to be allocated funding and services, there is no need for the government to interfere in the Internal Management of Associations.

It may be better to look at ways of providing services which are not so damaging. The OACDT apparently did not earn the respect of Outback Communities, so I doubt such respect will be achieved with a name change.

Nigel Carney


Dear Editor

Attached is a response to Minister Gail Gago’s letter posted on the Coober Pedy Regional Times News Website.

In response to Ms Gago’s letter to the Editor Coober Pedy Times dated 29 July 2010, it would appear that Ms Gago has added a qualifying option to justify her selection of members to permit appointment to the Outback Communities Authority even though they do not live in an outback community.

I bring your attention to Ms Gago’s quote “..currently reside in or have a residence and or business in the outback”.

I can find no mention in the Outback Communities (Administration and Management) Act 2009-1-7-2010 that qualifies selection to the new Authority by nature of property or business ownership. In fact the Act clearly states “members of different outback communities”.

The new Authority requires the support of all members of the outback affected by its decision making and it is unclear how this trust and support  can be acquired by a Board of primarily city dwellers. 

The Authority should represent the interests of the whole of the outback and we cannot see how this is possible if the Authority does not include residents of outback communities as specified by the ACT.

The communities expectation of any piece of legislation must be mirrored by the actions of government in their use of that legislation.
ie. If government promises a duck we need to see it looking, quacking and behaving like a duck.

As a matter of interest, a community is described as a group of people which may well render individual pastoralists ineligible to represent outback communities on the new Authority.

We trust that Ms Gago will address this matter with a sense of urgency to ensure that the selection of OCA members complies with the ACT.

Peter Allen

(Andamooka Progress & Opal Miners Association)
PO Box 246 ANDAMOOKA SA 5722
Phone: (08) 8672 7152


11 replies »

  1. Dear Editor,

    It was refreshing to read the news that the Andamooka Community have asserted themselves and their right to self determination (Coober Pedy Times July 24.)

    Our town as well has experienced slight fracturing in recent years from the push to install government in the Unincorporated Area of South Australia.

    I wanted to know more about the Authority after reading that Andamooka has decided not to recognise the authority, and was perplexed at how little information the site contained and how poorly organised that information is. This reinforced my opinion that the authority has no great expertise, certainly no greater than the expertise of local people who at least live in these unincorporated areas.

    On the policy section of the site I was both amused and shocked to read:

    “The members of the Outback Communities Authority, appointed in July 2010, will be responsible for engaging the community and developing policy on matters not addressed in the legislation. A range of policies, based on topics covered by the Outback Areas Community Development Trust, which was replaced by the Authority, will be progressively finalised as considered by members in collaboration with communities.”

    So it seems that while many did not trust the trust, people are now questioning the intent and the authority of the outback council. Without doubt the real intent is to create authority where none exists and to exercise this authority to execute the SA Strategic Plan, which in the outback areas would concern the exploitation of mineral wealth from the land.

    Perhaps if the authority was truly the voice of the local people it would be a little respected, but like so many agencies in these areas the misdirected expenditure of tax funds has become almost legendary.

    Kind Regards,
    Northern Flinders Land Occupier

  2. The Outback Communities Authority is in fact an unelected, de facto, local council which will be asking for levies from the communities under their ‘control’. No taxation without proper (elected) representation! Why fix what wasn’t broke?

  3. When did the so-called outback authority have a democratic election like all the other councils? This smells strongly of nazism. Towns all threatened with leases now getting an “authority” to look after simple community needs. Don’t think so. Where’s the transparency – not that it’s hard to see? Put pressure on the little guys and help them relocate to make way for another type of progress. How many government paid public servants does it take to manage towns where none of them live? What’s the incentive?Outback Authority is the right arm of Primary industries and resources, so that says everything. Democracy is dead, so don’t vote.

  4. Did you see how they floundered the Mintabie town and left them to rot. Maybe it’s not public yet but it should be. We arent voting either mainly because it always seems to be stacked and none on them have any real people policies that were hearing about. Its all fluff and evasion.

  5. I haven’t seen this covered in other news channels? But then lets face it, neither were the issues/complaints of the Ballarat Miners ( Eureka Stockade ) and the miners of Broken Hill ( Basic Oz work reform) . Its interesting that the miners always appear to be at the forefront of social justice, social reform. Good to see the tradition continuing in outback Andamooka!!

  6. Sounds like the council has had plenty of time to prove its worth but may have missed the boat or got on the wrong one…maybe when the public servants from south stop treating outback people like imbeciles there will be better outcomes. It may be exciting for Mrs Gago as she says above, but maybe best leave outback communities to do their own business rather than trying to do it for them hey!

  7. All that excitement so to speak is in this paragraph for when town is no longer yours, as small communities don’t need this stuff. “The individual Authority members have been appointed to represent the interest of the whole of the outback and bring a great depth of understanding in a wide range of disciplines, including land use, farming, tourism, community governance and consultation, stategic planning, financial management, business environmental management, health and medicine and youth services.”

    Where does all that fit in to an opal mining town? And which of the everyday housewife, mothers, farmer’s wife is going to go to uni to learn all that stuff, or is it as the original letter implies that the compliant ones will simply rubber stamp this stuff through once they become involved in the “excitement”.

    The concern is that they are so removed from the reality of remote communities, how could they possibly re-present them or replicate their voice accurately without dictating the whim of the state’s agenda?

    The general idea of an outback town is that it isn’t strategically planned. Let’s face it, AN INTERVENTION is what South Australian residents and communities are facing.

    It was first tested out on Mintabie and now it’s time to knock over the other dominoes and make out it was their own idea. Well it clearly isn’t!!

  8. Is this an epidemic? Are Community Progress Associations being targetting and popped off in areas where developers are pushing their way into their towns and small communities? I suppose that huge toxic, cess pool next to Andamooka wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

    I wonder if the NSW state government is as “excited” about the demise of the Culburra Progress as the South Australian state government is about knocking all off South Australia’s outback progress associations in one foul swoop.

    CULBURRA Beach Progress Association [NSW] is in danger of losing its status as an official community consultative body.

    Frances Bray NPA supporter and Convenor of the Lake Wollumboola Support Group and Environmental advocate had been a member of the Culburra progress association since 1993, but all that changed when she received a letter saying her membership had been cancelled by a full executive meeting.

    Several membership applications lodged since have been refused without explanation..

    Members of the Lake Wollumboola Support Group have been campaigning, since 1993, to stop the development because of its likely destructive impacts on the unique ecology of this most fragile of coastal lakes and its catchment.

    Our group was formed in response to Shoalhaven City Council seeking comment at the commencement of the Estuary Management Study for Lake Wollumboola. Soon after, we learned of plans by Realty Realisations, a landowner and developer, for a massive development primarily in the catchment of the lake. We decided to work to protect the lake, and to inform the Culburra Beach community on related issues.

    And these people are expected to vote AND pay taxes – for what? What’s the definition of a public servant??

  9. The government may think they have knocked over Mintabie but residents are still standing and will continue to fight to have the primary fact recognised that this was an Australian Opal Mining field well before it was wrongly handed over and should be handed back to Australians. All that stemmed since has been a blatant power-grab. This version of the OCA is typical government interference; add another layer of non-transparent bureaucracy to enable the tentacles of power to creep ever intrusively onwards.

  10. This is all primeval conflict stuff!

    The gorillas’ at the edge of the forest meet the rhino’s, chuck in some climate change stuff and there is a struggle, and ultimately a conquest and a period of peace before the apes go ape-shit again! The squarks of the media releases, the news spots and election campaigns, all same does’nt matter, apes fighting with apes over grapes or uranium or anything else that people think matters.

    The egos get exposed in the campaign and every goes back to the caves to lick their wounds and ponder if things are going to get better or worse or if there is a better way.
    The wise dont entertain the indulgence of the troublemakers and the troublemakers that want to become wise will leave the scene of the crime and hope to hell that no one noticed or pray to god that it wont happen again, or something like that.

    The rats and the mice come out when there is food a plenty so if you are hungry don’t complain about the plague , eat them and thank and bless them for the meal.

    Blessings Guardians of the Outback in Preserving the Lore


  11. Anyone catch this:

    It would appear the OCA is a dismal failure and there is no room left for ‘giving’ to an organisation that should properly ‘go away’ in lieu of a complete rethink of the appalling treatment of outback communities by this ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ quasi nothing government agency that has been caught with its pants down and is now struggling to establish an identity, but all these public servants should re-assigned to lighter duties more in keeping with their abilities – lolly pop duties at school crossings during busy peak hours perhaps?

    Give us a go: new outback authority

    SA’s new outback authority wants remote communities like Andamooka to give it time. (ABC Local: Emma Pedler)

    SA’s new Outback Communities Authority (OCA) says people in rural and remote areas should give it a chance to show how it will work closely with them.

    The Andamooka, Marla and Oodnadatta progress associations say not enough of the OCA’s members live in the outback.

    They say the board members should be elected by outback communities instead of being appointed by the State Government.

    OCA chairman Bill McIntosh says the board’s next meeting will be held in Andamooka to ensure local concerns are heard.

    “We will be putting plenty of time aside to interact with local people and a schedule of future such meetings right around the outback will be announced shortly,” he said.

    “We do have some other things to do like consulting on our public consultation policy and that will be released shortly as well.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s