09 June

An open letter to Cr Steven Edgington

Dear Cr Edgington, 

Ingkerreke Commercial is an Aboriginal owned and operated business based in Alice Springs with a second office in Darwin. We have serviced the Northern Territory for over a decade.

Ingkerreke Commercial has built a reputation for delivering excellence in the construction industry and providing quality workmanship. Ingkerreke employs locals, directly contributing to the local economy while improving the social outcomes of the region, we do all of this while maintaining a 50% Indigenous workforce.

It appears that you are unaware of several factors that contributed to this project. Ingkerreke Commercial was engaged to deliver the ‘Room to Breathe’ project under a select form tender which is an accepted transparent and open form of tender under the Northern Territory Government procurement guide. After Ingkerreke Commercial was initially identified as one of a number of Indigenous owned businesses in the Northern Territory that had the skills, capacity and capability to carry out the works. 

Under the early works of the program, works were tendered by and awarded to Ingkerreke Commercial for Ali Curung and Ampilatwatja. 

Ingkerreke constructed “the tin sheds”, as you call them, as a part of the brief under the program and the ‘outdoor living areas’ were built in good faith in Ali Curung.

The Northern Territory Government has recognised that the works were not appropriate and Ingkerreke Commercial now agree the scope of works provided was not suitable. 

This was acknowledged by Minister McCarthy earlier this year when he said: “That ‘Room to Breathe’ project at Ali Curung was early works, there were four construction sites, two of them we got wrong. Yes I will have to explain to taxpayers that we will go back and rescope two of those jobs and we will be asking the contractor for their accountability in this as well.” 

Ingkerreke Commercial was held accountable not only by the Minister and department but also by our Board of Directors for the works. Ingkerreke Commercial footed the bill for all modifications made to the outdoor living spaces in Ali Curung with an additional cost to the NT taxpayer of exactly $0. 

Throughout this whole time Ingkerreke Commercial continued to work with the community and the Department of Housing and Community Development, providing employment to 3-4 local aboriginal people, growing their skills and interest in the construction industry.

The most important thing that you have missed is that we worked closely with the local people, your constituents, to find an appropriate solution which has provided more space and adequate facilities for these families.

We are a proud Aboriginal owned business with a modern business model, bringing professionalism and quality to the table with social outcomes that are not a cost to the greater community. We always welcome any opportunity to quote and tender for contract works through the standard tender process, which we regularly do.

As you are aware, residents living in the communities face significant overcrowding and social issues - these are real outcomes for these communities. Noting works completed under the ‘Room to Breathe’ program in Ampilatwatja allowed for four living spaces to be added to community residents’ homes. These additional works were carried out at the same time as another two in Ali Curung. 

I would consider that today, with the social issues we face across the Northern Territory, that our organisation and others delivering similar results should be applauded for our efforts as we simply wish for the best outcomes for the Territory.  

I am perplexed as to why you would try to throw an organisation who delivers so much to the Northern Territory community under the bus in discussing such matters, unless you are willing to present both sides of the story. 

Look forward to the opportunity to discuss the matter in person. 

Callum Mathison, CEO, Ingkerreke Commercial