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Royal Commissions and the LNP

By Tracie Aylmer

The 4Corners program into torture within children’s detention centres in the Northern Territory must have really shocked a great number of people in this country. Hearing the Prime Minister pay lip service to a Royal Commission must have rocked his perception of stability.

(Myself, I can’t actually watch the video. I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m too sensitive, and my imagination runs wild in any case).

What I will say about this situation are two things:

  1. There was already a Royal Commission 25 years ago (the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody), of which, few of the recommendations have been implemented. Succeeding governments have been told over and over again to implement the recommendations. Nothing has happened. Everything has been shoved under a very lumpy carpet. Will another Royal Commission help? I very much doubt it. It will highly likely be to assuage the guilt of several politicians, to say; “Oh look, we are doing something! Let’s pat each other on the back” and nothing will change, because the heat will then be off this issue and onto another that they might have more ‘control’ over.
  2. There are already calls for a Royal Commission on the dangerous levels of Indigenous youth suicide (see petition here). All we are hearing from this push of the establishment are that they believe indignantly and self-righteously that investigating Indigenous youth suicide would highly likely divide society. This is an untruth of epic proportions! A 10 year old girl committed suicide several months ago. Why isn’t this thoroughly being investigated? Is it because she’s Indigenous? After unfortunately being touched by suicide, the one thing I can say is that any investigation done on Indigenous suicide can reverberate into other areas of the community. This would be an inclusive product of a desperately needed investigation.

After the 4Corners program, I believe that racism is the real reason why nothing has been done until the lip service the Prime Minister.

Racism, sexism and judgment are the key factors why Australia hasn’t grown up. Perhaps it’s time for our governments to stop behaving in a colonial manner, and start behaving in a mature fashion, to the benefit rather than the detriment of our society.



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  1. susan

    I think Turnbull’s royal commission is just another brushing aside of problems which should be addressed by our criminal law system. We have seen the proof for ourselves and we have heard the contempt of the NT minister so let’s just leave it up to our justice system. Afterall, what is it there for if not to address these abuses?

  2. wam

    spot on susan – the cow cruelty got instant attention – human cruelty a banal too slow too expensive duckshoving royal commission.
    There may be reason for a commission if WA and QLD were included but we are NOT a state and there is no impediment to the appointment of an investigation team NOW. But he is too chicken so a pontius pilate hand wash is his choice.

  3. David1

    I am amazed at the speed Turnbull was off the mark Tuesday morning, terms of reference all set for the RC. Not bad for known proven LIAR who professes to have had no prior knowledge. Of course I would not want to cast any doubts on his honesty in this horrific case. Oh no goodness not the PM. Ditto Giles, weak bastard.

  4. Adrianne Haddow

    I agree with Tracie’s view. How many Royal Commissions ( jobs for the mates) does it take for something to be done with regards to the abuse received by these children and by indigenous people in general.
    At risk kids incarcerated at the hands of beefed up, testosterone -fuelled bullies. I find it sickening that these thugs treat children threatening self harm with stripping and manacling them to chairs, that’s surely a way to increase the urge to suicide.
    Where were the psychologists, youth workers and medical professionals for these children classed as ‘at risk’?

    A royal commission gives those in power the justification to claim something was done, satisfies the public that something was done,but unless the recommendations are implemented, it is really just another beaureacratic exercise.
    The responsible politicians and “correctional services” workers need to be prosecuted, and these practices need to stop now, not at the conclusion of a Royal commission.

    They didn’t need a Royal commission to implement Howard’s infamous intervention.

  5. townsvilleblog

    This is a situation created by poverty, the children should have some other activity to occupy their minds. Breaking into cars and homes is an offense however I’d guess that the overwhelming majority of these youth are bored. They need a skatepark or some type of entertainment that would occupy them, then they would not be in detention It’s a social problem as much as it is a law and order problem..

  6. David

    Organisations such as the Murdoch press, the ADL, and the national socialists in the LNP, have a lot to answer for in Australia. I am appalled at what the nation has sunk to since we committed our military to intervene in Vietnam. Our neighbours in the South Pacific just shake their heads in dismay. We can do better!

  7. diannaart


    These children need hope for a future.

  8. king1394

    Perhaps we need a Royal Commission into the lack of action on the findings of previous Royal Commissions etc

  9. diannaart


    Good point. RC’s require assurance of action within a specified time. Whereas continuing to treat people as scum just results in ‘scum.’

  10. wam

    perhaps a turncoat plus????
    Brian Ross Martin is a strong honest man and will do a good job.
    The terms of reference suggests turncoat doesn’t want the clp to take all the blame by going back 10 years. This will complicate the commission unnecessarily.
    Surely, the terms of reference should have been the investigation of this incident and the solution. Letting Martin decide how far back is relevant and that might be into last century????
    The key is it is difficult shift work job with ultra disturbed kids. Most of whom are ‘street wise’ recidivists. There is considerable mental and physical danger to workers. This results in a turnover such that almost anyone can be employed without the luxury of adequate skill tests or investigation to discover prejudices.
    Elpherink was a victim in his youth. He is a product of the clp culture but no more deserving of vilification than the prison guards or the previous politicians or indeed all of us territorians who have stood by and watched the progression from the 1991 opening to Giles’ ‘digging a hole’.
    There have been many great sideways movements that worked so well. Perhaps, if the political power of the commonwealth had been behind these ‘bush camps’, they might not have withered.
    Let us hope, Brian Martin, the former Chief Justice of the NT can get down to work quickly and produce an interim report that can be used to alleviate the situation NOW, rather than years into the future.

  11. Kyran

    The way this ‘story’ has unfolded has become a glaring example of the two worlds existing in Australia. One indigenous commentator, Chris Graham, wrote “I am shocked that people are shocked by this.”
    This ‘man’ Brian Ross Martin, who is to preside over a RC (described as a farce before it begins), is the epitome of the problem and deserves no part in any solution. Martin presided at the trial of five white men charged with the brutal murder of Mr Ryder, an indigenous man, aged 33. It was not trialled as a hate crime, nor were they charged with murder. Manslaughter, at the lower end of the scale, no less.

    “Brian Martin, the former NT Supreme Court Chief Justice, achieved infamy among Aboriginal communities in April 2010 when he described five white youths who bashed an Aboriginal man to death in a racially charged drunken rampage as “of otherwise good character”.”

    With regard to the light sentences imposed;
    “One of Justice Martin’s justifications for the light sentences was that the youths would be caused ‘additional hardship’ in prison, given the overwhelming majority of inmates are Aboriginal.”

    NT Juvenile Detention Abuse Royal Commissioner Needs No Introduction To Black Territorians

    That case was only one of the examples available about Martin’s values and judgement. The token of a RC into such a serious issue, with so many constraints, merely underlines the contempt with which our politicians view the matter of our First People. Even when we have a RC such as the Deaths in Custody, we ignore the majority of the 330 plus recommendations. Even when we commission an annual report on Closing the Gap, we ignore its very existence, other than the day on which it is released.

    Stan Grant recently delivered a lecture in NSW.
    “In the wake of the ABC ‘Four Corners’ damning report on the incarceration of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory, journalist and “proud Wiradjuri man” Dr Stan Grant has called for a national truth and reconciliation commission, “a full reckoning of our Nation’s past that may set loose the chains of history that bind this country’s first and today most miserably impoverished people.” He also called for a treaty with Indigenous Australians, similar to those in New Zealand, the United States and Canada.”

    The entire article is worth a read.
    Our ‘leaders’ have again sought to apply a band aid to a major wound. At least they haven’t bothered with the pretence of consulting our First People as to the choice or constitution of the band aid.
    There was a Black Lives Matter march on 17th July. Will this movement grow in Australia?

    Until such time as our ‘leaders’ understand they are meant to lead the pack, not stand at the back offering meaningless platitudes to those around them, this issue will go nowhere. The only maturity I have seen in the past week has come from the victims. At least now there is no pretence whatsoever that our First People should ever expect justice. It really is that black and white.
    Thank you, Ms Aylmer. Take care

  12. diannaart

    Nailed it, Kyran. Thank you for links.

  13. Kaye Lee

    “These “kids” aren’t angels, btw.”

    Having spent my entire adult life dealing with teenagers, some of them very troubled, I can confidently say that I have not found punishment to ever be effective in setting them on the right path.

    The youth refuge I worked at adopted a different approach. We taught the kids life skills, helped them with the enormous amount of paperwork their lives involved, supported them at court proceedings, helped them with school work, found them jobs, gave them a safe place to live, found them accommodation when they were ready to move on and followed up with outreach support. We had some failures, but many many successes. Many of these kids had endured abuse from an early age. Others had mental health issues. Others had had no role models and no help at all as children. Some had just made poor decisions or bad mistakes.

    The boys who were featured in the program were motivated by a wish to change the system for other kids. This is to be applauded. It was a brave move considering the risk of retribution.

    I don’t expect anyone to be perfect but it is amazing what can be achieved with the right sort of support. They are children. They need guidance, not more abuse.

  14. Kyran

    Slainte, diannaart. Mr Grant’s oratory over the past year or two has been worth following. From the excerpt posted earlier;

    “Dr Grant told a packed Clancy Auditorium he had intended to deliver a more careful speech, seeking less to inflame and more to comfort, but watching the ‘Four Corners’ report had left him struggling to contain a pulsating rage. “Seeing images of a boy in a hood strapped to a chair, Aboriginal boys tear gassed, locked down and beaten,” he had rewritten his speech with his clenched fists hovering over the keyboard.”
    Without knowing the man, or wishing to put words in his mouth, he appears to contemplate his speech, before delivery, with the intent of offering comfort, rather than inflammation. Sort of strange that the likes of him are less ‘reportable’ than the likes of ‘those’ who seek to inflame any conversation, based only on their own self importance and undeniable ignorance.
    An intelligent man rewriting his speech, with clenched fists hovering over the keyboard, still tempers his words.
    Ms Lee, the confusion between a ‘law and order’ program and a ‘criminal justice’ program has always annoyed me. The law and order thing, promoted by ‘conservative’ governments, (WA, Queensland, NT, etcetera) seeks to deprive dignity. If we lock them up and treat them like animals, we can express surprise when they behave like animals. There have been many successful ‘criminal justice’ programs, which allow for this notion of rehabilitation. In my experience, they are the ones we de-fund, so we can build bigger jails. Messrs Voller and Storrar are products of an unjust system. Yet both are, in my opinion, far more worth listening to than those who decry their existence.
    Oops, I need to focus on the Rudd/talcum matter, or the pall, or the ‘intervention’ or the …….
    Take care

  15. diannaart

    …Sort of strange that the likes of him are less ‘reportable’ than the likes of ‘those’ who seek to inflame any conversation…

    If it ain’t ‘clickbait’ worthy it don’t rate a mention…

    …‘law and order’ program and a ‘criminal justice’

    Which concept contains the word ‘justice’? The neo-cons are allergic to ‘justice’, ‘equity’, reason’, ‘a fair go’, consequences’ and ‘accountability’.

  16. Kyran

    Surely, diannaart, when ‘law’ and ‘justice’ have to be enshrined in different sentences, haven’t we identified the problem?
    Take care

  17. Kyran

    Nostradamus nailed this back in April.

    Royal Commissions Are A Waste Of Money!

    The newly appointed commissioner has quit before he started. He recognised his appointment was a shallow appointment. The bloke who appointed him, and the AG, don’t get it.
    There is a problem here, previously addressed by RC’s and enquiries and all sorts of platitudes. All of which are dutifully ignored.
    Shorten is challenged because he proposed this really silly thing, a treaty, which may undermine the outcome of constitutional reform. This bloke, Andrews, is already negotiating ‘treaty’ with our First People”. This bloke Grant, “has called for a national truth and reconciliation commission, “a full reckoning of our Nation’s past that may set loose the chains of history that bind this country’s first and today most miserably impoverished people.”
    Whilst the problems on show on Four Corners were explicit, they did not confuse the issues. There is the juvenile detention aspect, there is the rate of indigenous kids being overrepresented in the system and there is the stark reality that the racism is systemic.
    With regard to ‘kid’s not being angels’, no parent (including my own), in my experience, has ever expressed that sentiment.

    Where the heck will this country end up if we allow logic, rationale, fact or reason dictate our future? Whilst I suspect we can learn from our elders, we apparently only need to listen to the likes of the white ones. It’s not like we signed international treaties, is it? It’s not like the rule of white law is a universal thing, is it? It’s not like the rule of law of our First people is older than white law, is it?
    I just don’t get it.
    Take care

  18. diannaart


    Gillian Triggs has stated the RC into Don Dale be extended to other states as there is evidence similar treatment of children has occurred. Of course, Triggs will be studiously ignored by the Turnbull government.

    I agree with Triggs and call for RC extending to treatment of children in detention centres.

    Doesn’t matter whether it is white law or black law – abusing children is wrong, it is is evil, it is an assault on the future of these children and, consequently, our own future.

  19. Matters Not

    will be studiously ignored by the Turnbull government.

    Maybe not. Having a series of Royal Commissions gives them a raison d’être. Otherwise it will be self created, ongoing ‘dead air’. They have no policies to speak off, except a massive tax cut for the big end of town. And they have no idea as how to fund same.

  20. helvityni

    MN, I have never heard of ‘dead air, but we certainly have plenty of hot air here, and we don’t want it get any hotter, so we must tell Mal’s CC man to take it seriously, and not allow more coal mines.

    In Holland they talk about ‘gebakken lucht’, which translates to baked air. The air there could do with a bit of warming according to me, but the Dutchies do not, and because of the lack of land available they put their numerous wind- turbines in the sea.

  21. Michael Taylor

    MN, this government has failed the golden rule of RCs: you don’t hold a RC unless you already know the answer. Big fail there. They only thought they knew the answers.

  22. Matters Not

    ‘Dead Air’ is a pejorative descriptor often used when a ‘politician’, for example, ‘freezes’ – ‘doesn’t know what to say’ leaving an embarrassing silence. Remember Abbott and his interview with Mark Riley. Lots of dead air.

    As for turbines in the sea, they seem to be everywhere. Fly from Frankfurt to Copenhagen and they are a sight. Hockey would not be pleased and Maurice Newman says that they are a crime against the people. But then again he thinks ‘global warming’ is just a scam – hence his appointment as an advisor to Abbott.

    Maurice Newman: wind power a “crime against the people”

  23. Möbius Ecko

    Off topic but wind turbines are not put in the sea because of lack of land. Turbine farms have fairly small footprints. Many counties with suitable coastal access put turbines in the sea even when there’s plenty of land available. Australia should be doing it.

    Sea turbines provide a stronger, more reliable and constant energy output because of onshore winds caused by the difference in sea and land temperatures.

  24. diannaart


    Turnbull has given an exemplary illustration of why successful business men do not, necessarily, make for successful politicians.

    The action Turnbull took on Friday was fast and decisive – good if all Turnbull was doing was getting the widgets production line back on track, not so good when dealing with the immediate consequences on the lives of people, in this case, children.

    Politics: deals with consequences (in an ideal world)

    Business: deals with profit (no matter the consequences)

  25. Matters Not

    don’t hold a RC unless you already know the answer

    Indeed. And that ‘rule’ doesn’t just apply only to RCs – applies to any inquiry that’s politically motivated.

    Dyson was simply ‘reverse engineering’. The ‘findings’ were written before the first witness was called. ?

  26. helvityni

    I know that my post was somewhat off topic, but I also wanted to hint (to be polite) that here we talk a lot (lots RCs etc), but we are a bit slow when it comes to implementing anything, doing things, be it deaths in custody, CC, building airports…

    My neighbour here visited Norway, at that time there was talk of a new airport, she went there two years later: the airport was there..

    The main parties here hardly ever work together for the common good.

  27. Möbius Ecko

    Sorry helvityni I meant my response is off topic. I should have been clearer.

  28. Kyran

    Indeed, diannaart @10.07, Ms Triggs’ comments only serve to underscore the paucity of the governments arguments, let alone their actions, in launching an enquiry and making it’s scope so limited as to be useless. If talcum so earnestly believes this is a NT problem, why has he put it on the COAG agenda?
    I haven’t seen anything the current government does survive the slightest of query or scrutiny. talcum is being careful in case anyone suggests that institutionalised abuse of children occurs anywhere outside Don Dale. That Ms Triggs person knows that that is not the only ‘Abu Ghraib’ in Australia.
    Take care

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