FORMER Aboriginal leader Geoff Clark is now “unemployed, bankrupt and probably unemployable” after losing an unfair dismissal action against the Framlingham Aboriginal Trust on Friday.
At a Fair Work Australia (FWA) hearing in Melbourne on Friday, Commissioner Julius Roe found Mr Clark had made his application 11 days too late and there were no grounds to plead exceptional circumstances, according to The Australian.
FWA heard Mr Clark was dismissed as the Framlingham Aboriginal Trust administrator on February 24 this year after being suspended in October last year.
Mr Clark said he was unaware of the dismissal until receiving a registered letter on March 9 and had lodged an unfair dismissal action on March 20, outside the allowable 14 days from the point of dismissal. The commision heard Mr Clark was suspended from his role at the trust in October until further notice.
In early October last year, Framlingham Aboriginal Trust shareholders met “in response to serious concerns” surrounding the governance of the trust and voted to suspend Mr Clark. But the former ATSIC chairman told The Standard the cause of his dismissal was tending to starving cows near his home on the Framlingham Reserve.
“My crime appears to be that, unpaid and in a voluntary capacity, I was feeding cows distressed, lacking in feed, dying in the paddocks, with no water,” he said. “I felt my duty as a community member was to at least look after the assets of the community and welfare of the animals.
“That’s my crime and this is my penalty. I’m now unemployed, bankrupt and probably unemployable.
“There doesn’t seem to be any end to the persecution and vilification of the Geoff Clark identity; it’s madness.
“It’s another bump on the road to self-determination for black fellas in this country.
“I will continue to defend my honour and integrity, to fight for what’s right for Aboriginal and indigenous people. The rest will be relegated to history.”
Commissioner Roe said he was satisfied Mr Clark was aware of his dismissal at the time it took place.