Aboriginal campaigner Bernard Singer’s tree fight fine
Andrew Dowdell, Court Reporter: The Advertiser | August 01, 2008
APY Lands chairman Bernard Singer has been convicted and fined over an assault at a Far North community earlier this year.
Singer, 41, today admitted to punching another man during an argument over the cutting down of a “sacred tree” on the lands in May.
The alcohol prohibition campaigner had denied the assault but pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and misuse of a motor vehicle midway through his trial in Coober Pedy Magistrates Court.
The court previously heard that Singer had a blood alcohol level of .484 percent when he was arrested for punching Bungala Aboriginal Corporation chairman Ken Larkins at the remote community of Indulkana.
Singer did “donuts” in his government vehicle before going into Mr Larkins’ garage, where he challenged him about cutting branches off a tree that he said formed part of an “emu dreaming trail”.
Singer punched Mr Larkins once in the jaw as their argument spilled outside onto the street.
Magistrate Rosanne McInnes fined Singer a total of $1400 and banned him from driving for seven days.
Ms McInnes also imposed a condition that Singer not enter or remain on the APY Lands within 24 hours of consuming alcohol or any other intoxicating liquor.
Singer’s lawyer David Stokes told the court during the early part of the trial that his client was permitted to drink in a special “wet area” designated for him and to then return to the lands.
Singer was also disqualified from possessing a firearm and police were given permission to search any property where they believed he could be holding a gun.
In June, the State Government set processes in chain to remove Singer from his post as APY Lands chairman.
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson will review the case before deciding whether to tell the APY Lands board to sack Singer.