10/03/2016 - 14:55

Court rules YAC directors not valid

10/03/2016 - 14:55

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The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which has been mired in years of controversy, has been referred to the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations after the Supreme Court found it did not have validly appointed directors.

Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Michael Woodley.

The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which has been mired in years of controversy, has been referred to the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations after the Supreme Court found it did not have validly appointed directors.

The court case is the latest instalment in a dispute between YAC, which is led by chief executive Michael Woodley, and members of a breakaway organisation, the Wirlu-Murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation.

Following a challenge by YAC member John Sandy into the validity of the current YAC board, and the legitimacy of a resolution passed at a directors’ meeting in December to grant 46 new YAC memberships, Justice Rene Miere found the organisation hadn’t validly appointed directors, and therefore the resolutions passed at the meeting were invalid.

Mr Sandy’s lawyer Martin Bennett alleged in court that the entire YAC board had ceased to hold office since YAC’s November AGM, in which no directors achieved a required 75 per cent majority vote.

Under the YAC constitution, directors are elected to the board for a one-year term after achieving a 75 per cent vote of all YAC members.

He also argued that a subsequent meeting in December was invalid, as was the resolution to grant the new 46 memberships, and that the board chose to accept those membership applications to influence voting power.

As a result, Justice Miere said Mr Sandy’s application for a receiver should be adjourned to give the Registrar an opportunity to consider whether to appoint an administrator or not.

Justice Le Miere said in his reasoning for the decision he found the directors’ resolutions to accept new memberships and to call a general meeting in December to appoint directors was for “the improper purpose of creating a new majority to appoint the second defendants other than Jill Tucker, or those who supported them, as directors”.

Mr Bennett argued many of the memberships granted at the December meeting were to applicants who had previously been rejected, who were members of other registered native title body corporate, or who didn’t even identify as being Yindjibarndi.

Mr Sandy said he was pleased the Supreme Court recognised the granting of the 46 memberships was an attempt at vote stacking by one faction of YAC, with the aim of gaining control of the organisation.

“This decision recognises that the current management of YAC was not being inclusive of the entire Yindjibarndi community,” he said.

“I’m optimistic that this finding will give us a fresh start to unite all Yindjibarndi people under a truly representative organisation.”

Mr Sandy said he hopes the referral to ORIC will help all Yindjibarndi people to come together again.

“We are all Yindjibarndi people, we share a common history and I believe we can unite for a better future,” he said.

Mr Woodley told Business News he welcomed the court decision, arguing he was in favour of ORIC getting involved to try and resolve the long-running impasse.

The divisions between members of YAC and YMAC were preciptated by a dispute over royalties from Fortescue Metals Group's Solomon mine.

 

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