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Abbott questions PM's royal commission

AAP logoAAP 8/09/2016

Tony Abbott has likened Malcolm Turnbull's decision to call a snap royal commission into the Northern Territory youth justice system to the Gillard government's ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia.

"Governments normally need to pause and think before they take precipitant action," Mr Abbott told Alan Jones on radio 2GB on Friday.

"That's what happened with the live cattle trade and it took us years to overcome the damage."

Mr Turnbull called the royal commission the morning after the ABC's Four Corners aired a report showing the abuse of children in youth detention.

Mr Abbott questioned the veracity of the report, saying it appeared things were not as black and white as suggested.

"A lot of terrible things are happening but a lot of very good things are happening and sometimes in response to terrible things, the authorities have got to be very, very firm," he said.

When asked what the royal commission would solve, Mr Abbott said: "That's a fair point."

Mr Turnbull defended his decision, describing it as very appropriate to what appeared to be a systemic failure in the territory's justice system.

"There clearly has been a shocking failure in the territory," the prime minister told reporters in Micronesia where he is attending the Pacific Island Forum.

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