Indigenous Social Justice Leader, Former Judge To Lead Royal Commission

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and former Queensland supreme court justice Margaret White will lead the royal commission into the alleged abuses committed in the Northern Territory’s juvenile detention system.

Their appointment comes immediately after Brian Martin QC stepped down from the role, citing the lacking “confidence of sections of the Indigenous community which has a vital interest in this inquiry,” and a possible perception of bias owing to his daughter’s tenure working for the NT’s attorney-general.

Indigenous Australians currently represent a disproportionately large contingent of the NT’s prison population, a figure that is also reflected in the territory’s juvenile detention system.
Indigenous groups had also called for more inclusion in the royal commission, and opposition leader Bill Shorten previously called for “Mr Turnbull to listen carefully to the voices of Aboriginal Australians… This royal commission has to be done with Aboriginal people, not to Aboriginal people.”

Gooda’s role as joint royal commissioner comes after his statement that the entire NT government should be dumped due to their lack of oversight. Asked if he still held that view in light of today’s appointment, he said “on the Tuesday [after the broadcast of Four Corners’ investigation], you know, was a day of emotions and people had all sorts of emotional responses.”
“In the clear light of day I probably wouldn’t think that. But at the moment I’ve got a job to do.”
Gooda also spoke on his shock at the Four Corners footage.

Regarding whether the scope of the royal commission should be extended to include other states and territories, Gooda said “I think I need to get my feet under the desk, if you like, and see where we end up. But at this point in time I’m satisfied with the terms of reference and I do the job that I’m asked to do.”

White suggested their appointment shouldn’t impact the current timeline for investigations to commence. As is stands, an opening hearing is penciled in for early September.

Source: The Guardian / ABC /
Photo: ABC / Twitter.