16/09/2016 - 15:25

Pilbara downturn hits indigenous corporations

16/09/2016 - 15:25

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Indigenous corporations in Western Australia have experienced a fall in average income for the first time in five years, though the state’s largest Aboriginal corporations, listed in the BNiQ Search Engine, have defied the downturn.

Patrick Green chairs Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation.

Indigenous corporations in Western Australia have experienced a fall in average income for the first time in five years, though the state’s largest Aboriginal corporations, listed in the BNiQ Search Engine, have defied the downturn.

The average income of indigenous corporations in WA fell 0.5 per cent to $4.3 million in the year to June 2015, according to the latest ‘Top 500’ report from the federal government’s Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

By comparison, the national average increased to $3.76 million.

The fall in WA income was mainly due to a big drop experienced by the 23 indigenous corporations based in the Pilbara.

The average income of Pilbara-based indigenous corporations fell from $8.9 million in FY14 to $7.8 million in FY15, according to ORIC.

Despite the fall, this was just over double the average income of indigenous corporations nationally.

The Pilbara entities include Gumala Aboriginal Corporation, which experienced a sharp fall in royalties paid by Rio Tinto.

One Pilbara group to defy the downturn was Wirlu-Murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which lifted income to $22.6 million, ranking it at number five on the BNiQ Search Engine.

Wirlu-Murra has gained substantial backing from Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, through both its contracting arm and in its ongoing battle with rival group Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which is mired in a long-running native title fight with Fortescue.

While most Pilbara entities experienced a fall in income, the state’s biggest indigenous corporations continued to grow.

The Broome-based Kimberley Land Council is the state’s largest, according to research by Business News.

It had income of $33.4 million in FY15, ranking it number one of the BNiQ Search Engine - equivalent to number five in ORIC's Top 500.

The KLC sits just ahead of Fitzroy Crossing-based Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation, which had total income of $32.6 million.

The Patrick Green-chaired Marra Worra Worra has a range of business interests, most notably the Kimberley Regional Service Providers joint venture and Fitzroy Hardware.

The highest income of any indigenous corporation listed in ORIC’s Top 500 was $88.8 million, though ORIC does not identify individual corporations by name.

The top four on the ORIC list were all in the Northern Territory.

ORIC said the major source of revenue for the top 20 corporations was self-generated income (43 per cent), followed by government grants (39 per cent).

The balance comes from mining royalties, native title compensation and distributions from trusts.

Nationally, the top 500 Aboriginal corporations had total assets of $2.2 billion at June 2015.

WA accounts for 25 per cent of the Top 500, while the NT accounts for 33 per cent.

Employment by indigenous corporations fell for the second year running.

Nationally, employment was down 5.3 per cent to 11,095 full-time equivalent employees at June 2015.

WA experienced a much sharper 19 per cent fall to 2,240 positions.

 

 

  

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