Don Dale trig­gers roast­ing for ABC

The Australian - - THE NATION - EAN HIG­GINS

For­mer North­ern Ter­ri­tory at­tor­ney-gen­eral and cor­rec­tional ser­vices min­is­ter John Elferink has launched a fresh and scathing at­tack on the ABC ahead of the con­clu­sion of the long-run­ning royal com­mis­sion into the Don Dale ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion cen­tre.

In an opin­ion piece pub­lished in The Aus­tralian to­day, Mr Elferink says the ABC’s Four Cor­ners pro­gram, which prompted the in­quiry, en­gaged in “gravely mis­lead­ing” re­portage.

He says it failed five guidelines in the ABC’s code of prac­tice and con­cludes that “trust­ing the ABC was a rookie mis­take”.

The Royal Com­mis­sion into the Pro­tec­tion and De­ten­tion of Chil­dren in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory will bring down its final re­port on Fri­day, af­ter hear­ing from 210 wit­nesses over 12 weeks of pub­lic hear­ings.

It fol­lowed a Four Cor­ners pro­gram that screened in July last year, which re­vealed teenagers at the Don Dale cen­tre, east of Dar­win, had been tear­gassed, hooded, and strapped into re­straint chairs.

Coun­try Lib­eral Party chief min­is­ter Adam Giles sacked Mr Elferink from his cor­rec­tions port­fo­lio fol­low­ing the broad­cast, but Mr Elferink has claimed the Four Cor­ners ex­pose was a stitch-up. He says the ABC never re­vealed that the mat­ters it raised had been dealt with, and says he doubts the royal com­mis­sion will come up with any new rec­om­men­da­tions for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions.

“A to­tal of $50 mil­lion was spent trawl­ing through the sys­tem that ‘tor­tured’ so many in­no­cents … yet Don Dale re­mains open,” Mr Elferink writes.

“How could this be? Nei­ther has a sin­gle per­son been re­ferred for crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If any fur­ther rec­om­men­da­tions are made re­gard­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions it will most likely be the rein­ves­ti­ga­tion of mat­ters al­ready ex­am­ined.”

In April in the royal com­mis­sion, the ABC suc­cess­fully blocked a state­ment by Mr Elferink at­tack­ing Four Cor­ners.

An ABC spokes­woman said: “The Four Cor­ners story ‘ Aus­tralia’s Shame’ is an im­por­tant piece of in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism and the ABC stands by it. It has been sub­jected to in­tense scru­tiny and has with­stood in­ces­sant crit­i­cism from crit­ics with a vested in­ter­est, such as Mr Elferink. We are ex­tremely proud of the im­pact it has had, and its value and sig­nif­i­cance for our au­di­ence.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.