Land Council Revolt – Roberts asked to go

Cr Len Roberts, “Honorary” CEO  Karuah Land Council 

There weren’t a lot of them. But the Karuah Land Council packed a punch when they finally decided to kick out their CEO Len Roberts.

Recently over 40 angry members of the Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council gathered at their headquarters in Karuah for their quarterly meeting  with the expressed objective of removing the CEO, Len Roberts.

It appears that an overwhelming number of the members wanted to remove Mr Roberts from the position of CEO, but their attempt was thwarted by a rule which provides that only the Board of the Land Council can terminate a CEO.  Subsequently an extraordinary meeting has been called for August to re-address this anomaly by instating a dismissal clause so that the Land Council can dismiss board members or the CEO. However Roberts is essentially out the door.

The meeting was held at the Land Council office on the Mission in Karuah. However once locals learned their CEO, the self appointed Len Roberts, had arbitrarily decided to move the Land Council HQ to an office in Tea Gardens without any consultation, the idea was rousingly squashed at the meeting.

It was typical of their CEO’s arbitrarily non consultative modus operandi.

The present CEO Len Roberts, currently a Councillor on MidCoast Council and former Deputy Mayor of the Great Lakes Council has claimed that he was the “Honorary” CEO of the Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council since late 2016/2017.

However  investigations have revealed that he allegedly receives an annual $12,000 fee and allegedly has access to a corporate credit card for expenses, which was also the subject of some heated speculation at the recent Land Council Meeting.

The anomaly was allegedly spotted by council member, Zac Schmierer who was hired last year as the only fulltime employee at the Land Council, in addition to Kelly Drinkwater who is a part time employee.

 

Allegedly Dodgy Credit Cards

“My role was something like an assistant to the CEO. My role was never defined,’ said Schmierer who made himself useful sorting through files. Here he came upon the credit card statements of the CEO, Roberts, and the Chair, Fiona Manton. Both had corporate credit cards charged back to the Karuah Land Council.  Schmierer noted Roberts had weekly fuel bills for several hundred dollars charged to a gas station north of his residence, when the Land Council offices are south. Roberts allegedly signed off on purchases made by the Chair as well as his own.

Schmierer tried to query these bills, plus the fact the “honorary” CEO was allegedly also receiving a payment of $12,000 a year and was allegedly driving around in a brand new company car.

Schmierer photocopied documents and sent them to relevant authorities querying the legitimacy of this. He is still waiting for an explanation or an investigation.  In the meantime, Roberts, the CEO, called for Schmierer to be sacked.

But more issues began to come to the attention of some of the local community concerning activities of their CEO, culminating in a recent riotous Council meeting where several Board Member supporters of Roberts resigned and walked out as it became clear the agenda was to dismiss the CEO.

Roberts allegedly refused to comply with motions from the previous meeting to bring receipts for three trucks that he had purchased. One was returned to the community, the other two allegedly remain on his property which he refuses to return.

Curious Heritage Trail

Questions were asked about Roberts’ support, promotion and involvement with a heritage trail of Aboriginal carved trees on Bulahdelah Mountain as a tourist attraction.

Senior elders such as Hector Saunders, a respected local elder who has run cultural tours and lived in the area, dismissed as improbable the idea there was ever any
cultural significance to an area where there was no food or water and was doubtful indigenous people ever lived there, yet alone carried out ceremonies.

So why was Roberts promoting it as significant and culturally important in conjunction with the Forestry Department?

But wait . . . Lennie is a mover and shaker it seems. As soon as he was at the helm of the Land Council,  valuable land which the Karuah Land Council owned near  the Hawks Nest Golf Club  was allegedly sold and other significant sites that could be developed, were earmarked for development, allegedly without any consultation with the community or Land Council. Roberts proposed that the land near the golf club be developed as a “primitive camping” ground.

This land is about 2 kms north of the Hawks Nest Golf Club on Mungo Brush Road on the eastern side…stunning prime land right in front of the beach.

For camping?  

Let us not forget Mr Roberts is a good neighbour to Mr Phillip Dong Fang Lee, the controversial Chinese land developer who has been in and out of court over his land developments and alleged environmental degradation at Tea Gardens and Fame Cove.

So the Karuah Land Council and community have not seen any money from the alleged sale of prime property (which no one in the community wanted sold or was consulted) and Roberts has so far refused to give details as to the amount paid or produced any paperwork, which he says hasn’t arrived, which no-one in the community believes for an instant, as they know the land to be worth millions.

Debatable Heritage?

Among other issues raised was about the suitability of Roberts as CEO was the question of his relatively recent claim to Aboriginal heritage, when no one locally can verify any local connection or knowledge of a family connection with the Karuah’s.

But Roberts is a fighter. Despite an audience comprising initially the bulk of the community, he did not excuse himself from the meeting, but arrogantly stood his ground, and anyone who challenged him he threatened to sue.

His reasons and answers were greeted with hoots of laughter or shouted insults such as “Liar Liar.”

After nearly four exhausting hours, a lot of locals left, but the remaining angry locals voted overwhelmingly 17 to zero, to have Mr Roberts removed as CEO.

Colourful History

Mr Roberts has had a rather colourful history as a community representative and is no stranger to political intrigue having been previously removed from the Great Lakes Council by an order of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal in 2002. The Tribunal, a three member panel including two ‘judicial’ members ruled: “That Mr Roberts be dismissed from civic office.”

In 2005 Mr Roberts was mentioned in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald as having attempting to stage and fix the election for the position of Mayor of Great Lakes whilst one of the supporters of the incumbent mayor John Chadban was away on holidays: “a former Nationals candidate, Len Roberts, used his absence to schedule a mayoral vote certain to win him the mayoralty.”

Prior to last year’s MidCoast Council Election Mr Roberts claimed that he was running as an “Independent” but then wrote to all National Party Members in his capacity as Chairman of the National Party Electorate of Lyne urging all Nationals members to support his campaign.  In that letter he purported to have the support of the Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead.

During that Council election campaign a number of high profile National Party figures and officials handed out how to vote cards for Mr Roberts including Charlotte Gillespie, the wife of Dr David Gillespie (Member for Lyne) and the Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams.

Mr Roberts was also allegedly overheard at pre-polls telling people that he was the official National Party Candidate, prompting Cr.Kathryn Bell (a former high profile member of the National Party) to write letters of complaint to the National Party.

Well that’s past history. The current stoush with the Karuah Land Council could be the unravelling of a long and colourful history in the Len Roberts story.

And we haven’t begun the chapter starring Glenn Handford and friends.

Stay tuned.

Members of the Karuah community involved in this event did not wish to be named or quoted until matters are resolved.

 

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16 Responses to Land Council Revolt – Roberts asked to go

  1. michael says:

    is it true he has been charged with assault too?

  2. Council Integrity and Performance Watcher says:

    Let’s hope the Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council refer this matter to the ICAC to investigate the allegations.

    For information, I am informed that they have already called in the NSW Police concerning this matter and that Len Roberts has been Criminally Charged.

    “Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Len Roberts charged with assault during dispute over land council office relocation”

    Please see: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5545539/police-called-to-karuah-mission/?cs=7573

  3. Mike says:

    Please please tell more … all this crew are very very bent ….. cant wait to hear about handford and friends …. they are bad … they love their money but hate letting anyone else have any!

  4. Malcolm says:

    I sent a link to this article to the Forestry Corporation knowing that they have an involvement with Len Roberts and the Karuah Aboriginal Land Council. They really dont care, I thought some alarm bells would ring, here is their reply.

    “Hi Malcolm. We worked with Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council and Mr. Roberts on the Bulahdelah Mountain Aboriginal Place project. We will continue to work with Karuah LALC and assist where needed on their projects”.

  5. Mr Karma says:

    Give poor old Lenny a break. Anyone can make a mistake!
    He didn’t hit him that hard and the fraud allegations are nothing – just a few dollars here and there.
    And don’t forget, our Len is a Pastor in the Baptist Church (and an archeologist). He is as straight as they come !

  6. Alan says:

    And Len Roberts – Elder and Pastor of the Tea Gardens Baptist Church!!

    Can someone advise me of any other Baptist Pastor ever being charged with assault in Australia??

    I attend a Baptist Church every week.

    Absolutely amazing.

    • michael says:

      so what you are saying is he lives in a deluded fantasy world where our planet is 6000 years old and created by a bearded old man wearing a toga sitting on a cloud. where humans and dinosaurs walked hand in hand.
      Heard of sexual assault? You know what thousands of religious “elders” the world over are being charged with?
      The man is a grade a nutter.
      I wonder how his imaginary rainbow serpent conflicts with his imaginary deity. doesnt his christian bible ( the most ridiculed and discredited book of FANTASY ever written ) say all non believers must be killed?
      and if you want to have a go at me for defamation Len – bring it on. deluded nutter.

  7. michael says:

    he is not liked in the Bundabah / Pindimar area.
    He is a christian nutter living in a deluded fantasy world.
    Im very keen to hear about his relationship with Glenn Handford. This should be a doozy.
    How ICAC hasnt thrown the lot of them in the clinker is beyond me.

  8. Adele Carrall-Browne says:

    A brief history of Len Roberts’ involvement in (but not limited to) the corruptly processed, fraudulently named) Bulahdelah Bypass – route Option E:
    https://www.facebook.com/pg/Opposing-and-Exposing-Corruption-1285022801522779/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2390835370941511

    Roberts was one of the principal pseudo-locals complicit in the use of an avoidable and unjustifiable (by ethical means) Pacific Highway deviation which was dangerous in the extreme and would:
    • desecrate and destroy heritage and culture of international significance;
    • increase concentrations of vehicle exhaust particulate matter, including diesel exhaust, at the public crowd-schooling institution and in the surrounding residential area;
    • cause blasting- and water runoff-damages to numerous homes;
    • subject highway-users, residents and visitors to the area to ongoing, multiple landslide and rockfall (i.e. boulder fall) risks;
    • increase noise pollution; and (but not limited to)
    • expose some two thousand plus human lives to airborne crystalline silica (silica dust). As is also the case with diesel exhaust, asbestos-like silica dust is a Group 1 (human) carcinogen. Silica dust is also the sole cause of the lung disease silicosis. Silicosis is incurable.

    At the end of August, 2000, Roberts, while affiliated with Karuah Aboriginal land council which had a pecuniary interest in the use of the Option E route, acted as a Great Lakes Council representative at a (demonstrably corrupt) major decision-making ‘workshop’. The outcome of said ‘workshop’ was that – despite being aware the ‘E’ route, based on traffic-flow alone (not taking into consideration that part of the roadway would be located in an area blasted through the toe or toes of previously-occurred landslide/s) – all groups present agreed that ‘Option E should go forward for further consideration and refinement’.

    Great Lakes Council, with (but not necessarily limited to) three parcels of land being owned by MidCoast Water, also had a pecuniary interest in said route.

    At a Great Lakes Council meeting on 12th December, 2000, it was ‘Moved and Seconded’ by Len Roberts and Darcy Peacock ‘that Council adopt the recommendation of the Value Management Workshop held at Myall Shores in August 2000 and endorse Option E as its preferred option in relation to the proposed Bulahdelah By-pass [sic] and the RTA be advised accordingly’.

    On 5th March, 2001, Great Lakes Council’s undemocratic ‘preferred option’ decision was utilised by the RTA’s Mark Eastwood to influence attendees at the RTA’s Aboriginal group Meeting Number Three: ‘Potential Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Impacts of Pacific Highway Bulahdelah Upgrade’. From the notes of said meeting:-

    ‘ME [Mark Eastwood] stated that the aim of the present meeting was to gain some type of resolution regarding option E. He explained that the Great Lakes Shire Council supported Option E’.

    In an article published in the Myall Coast Nota of 7th March, 2002, Roberts asserted: ‘It must be noted despite opinion to the contrary that has been circulated in the media, Council has no say in the decisions regarding the [Bulahdelah section of the Pacific Highway] upgrade’.

    In a front page Myall Coast Nota article of 21st April, 2011, Len Roberts is reported as stating: ‘Great Lakes Council … has absolutely no involvement with the construction of the Bulahdelah Bypass. That is a state government RTA project’. As stated in a 5th May letter of response from a Bulahdelah resident who is an expert on the subject: ‘Of course the so-called ‘bypass’ is not actually being constructed by Great Lakes Council. However, Great Lakes Council was very much involved in the approval of this highway route through the mid-slopes of the *Sacred Alum Mountain’.

    *Bulahdelah (the Alum) Mountain, traditional name: Boolah Dillah, the Great Rock (‘great’ as in ‘all-powerful’) is sacred to Worimi people of genuine cultural belief.

    Roberts additionally utilised disinformation tactics in regard to the location of the (then) proposed Option E route through the iconic mountain’s mid-slopes:-

    In his 7th March, 2002, ‘From the Desk of Len Roberts’ article he stated that ‘representative’ [sic] of the RTA and PPK [the RTA’s ‘consultants’] had shown council ‘maps and plans that indicate that the proposal does not cut into [the] Alum Mountain’.

    In a 4th May, 2011, ABC article ‘Indigenous concern continues about Bulahdelah Bypass’, Roberts is reported as claiming that the Option E route was in a ‘completely separate’ area from the mountain. Article extract – Roberts: “… some people are saying it’s being destroyed, but it’s not. It’s a completely separate area.”

    On Thursday, 5th July, 2012, Robyn Parker, (then) Minister for Environment and Minister for Heritage, issued a Media Release declaring a large portion of the mountain (within an area which is also dedicated Public Reserve) as an Aboriginal Place. Said media release stated that an Aboriginal Place declaration recognises and conserves Aboriginal history ‘without hindering the current land use’. It also stated: ‘The declaration of an Aboriginal Place does not change the status of the land or affect ownership rights, a person must not harm or desecrate an Aboriginal Place’.

    Furthermore, under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) ‘it is an offence to harm (destroy, deface, or damage) or desecrate an Aboriginal object or Aboriginal place … .’

    Yet Len Roberts and members of Karuah land council, with the complicity of (but not limited to) the Forestry Corporation, have recently demolished both of the lookout platforms near the mountain’s summit, destroyed a colony of a rare and threatened plant species and desecrated and harmed trees with ugly graffiti-like culturally incorrect carvings.

    Not only Roberts but all of those involved in the above-documented reckless endangerment of human lives and other corruption should brought to justice.

    • Adele Carrall-Browne says:

      Edit – last paragraph: Not only Roberts but all of those involved in the above-documented reckless endangerment of human lives and other corruption should be brought to justice.

  9. Council Integrity and Performance Watcher says:

    I have now been contacted by Opposing and Exposing Corruption – Facebook site’s operator – with further serious allegations made against Mr Len Roberts.

    Please see: https://www.facebook.com/1285022801522779/photos/a.2390835370941511.1073741854.1285022801522779/2390835490941499/?type=3&theater&hc_location=ufi

    Len Roberts – 2002 dismissal as a Councillor – Further information and insights into his Integrity, Ethics and Personal Values.

    On 19th April 2002, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal of New South Wales ruled that Great Lakes Councillor Len Roberts be dismissed from civic office.

    An Excerpt from Great Lakes Advocate article Councillor Dismissed (23-4-2002):-
    The tribunal’s decision … followed complaints about aspects of a July 1, 2000 council by-election in which he won a vacant seat by 977 votes, from eight other candidates.

    The complaints arose partly as a result of an election advertisement which appeared in the Manning Great Lakes Extra.

    The Page 2 advertisement, promoting Cr Roberts, of Tea Gardens, as a candidate, stated: “authorised by Peter Thompson, Wharf Street, Forster”.

    Cr Thompson, then a Councillor and former Deputy Mayor, told the Advocate at the time that he did not authorise the advertisement.

    Mr Len Roberts was dismissed from civic office on 19th April 2002.

    Why wasn’t there ensuing investigation into all projects which Len Roberts had recommended/endorsed?

    And why was Mr Roberts ever allowed to stand for council again??

  10. TianHu says:

    Please keep the kettle boiling…..it is so entertaining & enlightening….may the guilty party`s be suitably punished…..how has all this been allowed to go on…..who is responsible…..seems some people are rotten to the core……the world over…..money CAN BE….the root of much evil.
    GO you dirt diggers….don`t stop.

  11. Peter WARR says:

    The NSW ICAC investigates via Public Hearing another NSW Local Aboriginal Land Council(LALC)!

    Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council – allegations concerning directors of the Board and others (Operation Skyline)

    Since the early 1990’s when I worked on several NSW ICAC Investigations, the NSW ICAC has held numerous Investigations into LALC’s.

    The ICAC is investigating allegations concerning the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), including whether any public official, being a Awabakal LALC Board director, acted dishonestly and/or in breach of their duty as a Board member in relation to a scheme involving proposals from 2014 to 2016 for the sale and development of properties (“the Sale and Development Scheme”) owned by the land council.

    A reading of this matter’s Opening Address etc. is “interesting” reading…

    Please see: https://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/investigations/current-investigations/investigationdetail/224

  12. John says:

    I was married by Len .I highly recommend him. He’s gone out of his way to help my wife visit me in Sydney whilst under going emergency surgery. He’s as good a person you’ll ever meet thankyou very much. All you haters need to pull your heads in and have a good look at yourselves . amen.

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