Don Dale triggers roasting for ABC
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.”