Three months after the Northern Territory Royal Commission handed down its recommendations, the Turnbull Government finally decided to respond late in the day at the end of the Parliamentary sitting session.
The Government’s response is hopelessly inadequate. It says that only 28 of the 226 recommendations are its responsibility and only supports 2 of those 28 recommendations. The other 26 are only supported ‘in principle’ or ‘subject to further consultation’.
The Turnbull Government established this Royal Commission. To effectively wash its hands of its findings and recommendations exhibits a shameful lack of leadership.
It is laughable for the Government to reference the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) in its response. The IAS and its associated funding cuts has been a policy disaster and left Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory worse off. The IAS is part of the problem – it is not the solution.
Over 200 courageous witnesses gave evidence and more than 1,000 people attended community meetings over the course of the commission.
The Royal Commission’s report deserves to be taken seriously – so do all of the people who told their stories. That’s why the Federal Opposition is seriously studying all of its recommendations and consulting with the Northern Territory Government and other stakeholders on the best way forward.
Australia was horrified by the images from Don Dale of young boys being stripped naked, tear-gassed, spit hooded and held in solitary confinement.
The protection and detention of Australian young people is a national issue and a national responsibility – and it deserves Commonwealth leadership.
These are children we talking about – they need and deserve better from all of us in positions of responsibility.