Australia: Developer John Woodman admits 'paying off' Aboriginal groups in phone calls played at corruption hearing - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia Developer John Woodman admits 'paying off' Aboriginal groups in phone calls played at corruption hearing

14:21  21 november  2019
14:21  21 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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A Victorian corruption hearing investigating whether developer John Woodman bribed City of Casey councillors has heard recordings of phone calls where he discussed "paying off" Aboriginal groups for favourable land deals.

WARNING: This article contains language that some people may find offensive.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission inquiry was played recordings of two calls, collected covertly between Mr Woodman and two landowners in 2018, in which Mr Woodman agreed he had paid off an Aboriginal group in the past.

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"Now just about the, the Abos, and what we do about them," landowner Bill Green said in October 2018 discussing a planning development near Melton in Melbourne's west.

"All these people are desperate if you know what I mean … for money", Mr Woodman replied.

Mr Woodman told Mr Green he knew the person representing an Aboriginal group well enough to give him money and offer him a deal, so they could develop the land where there might be Aboriginal artefacts.

"I'll take along a thousand and I'll tell him I value his time so much that it's a thousand dollars an hour," Mr Woodman said on the phone laughing.

"It's a thousand dollars an hour if he's talking our talk," Mr Woodman said.

Asked about the recording during his fourth day of evidence to the inquiry, Mr Woodman said: "Bill is a client of mine that I have known for many years and our conversations vary from serious to non-serious."

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"In this particular instance he has a parcel of land that is very close to a weir which the Aboriginal people have decided overlooks the Exford Weir [near Melton].

"We've been discussing a method to entice the Aboriginal community, that instead of looking after this they would better invest the money into the community."

'It's a game you've got to play'

Mr Woodman discussed reaching an agreement with the person representing the Aboriginal group and paying them a success fee.

"[This] sort of donation goes to the two galahs, not the group," Mr Woodman said on the phone call.

"They couldn't give a rat's arse about their ancestors, that's just the greatest load of horse shit I've ever heard."

"It's a game you've got to play … they're not bloody stupid when it comes to that — they're cunning as shithouse rats, you know."

A second phone call played to the inquiry between Mr Woodman and landowner Alf Marriot heard the pair discussing deals.

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"You paid the Aboriginals off at his place is that right?" Mr Marriot asked about a past land deal during the call.

"Yeah, correct." Mr Woodman replied.

"But you can't do it now?" Mr Marriot asked.

"Unfortunately, there's three Aboriginal groups … He's straight, he's not from the Aboriginal community that are prepared to do a deal," Mr Woodman said in the recording.

The phone call also heard Mr Woodman would pay money to Aboriginal site monitors where his companies were developing land.

"Monitors would turn up every morning and you'd pay them $800 each day to leave," counsel assisting IBAC, Michael Tovey QC put to Mr Woodman in today's hearing.

"I had been able to negotiate with Aboriginal groups where they were more keen to bolster their bank balances than finding artefacts," Mr Woodman told the inquiry.

The inquiry before commissioner Robert Redlich QC, is expected to run for three weeks.

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