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Aus 'shocked, appalled' over NT centre: PM

AAP logoAAP 25/07/2016

The prime minister says the nation is shocked and appalled by the abuse of young people in a Northern Territory detention centre.

Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday announced a royal commission into the territory's youth detention system after damning footage of teen inmates being abused at one centre was aired.

"We're determined to examine the extent to which there has been a culture of abuse and indeed whether there has been a culture of cover up," he told reporters in Townsville.

"We're determined to get to the bottom of this," he said.

He questioned why the cases shown in the Four Corners program went unrevealed for so long.

The government would announce a "distinguished Australian" to oversee the royal commission, before revealing the terms of reference.

A directions hearing was expected next month with the commission ready to hear evidence from September.

"We're going to get on with this," Mr Turnbull said, adding he wanted a commission report by early next year.

Mr Turnbull said he had confidence in NT chief minister Adam Giles and urged Territorians to get behind him.

He refused to criticise Mr Giles and his government's handling of the matter, saying he'd leave critique to the royal commission.

"The inquiry, that royal commission, may well throw up evidence about the extent ... to which the government was wear of events or not."

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