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Fingers pointed in NT over juvenile abuse

AAP logoAAP 27/07/2016 By Neda Vanovac

The blame game in the Northern Territory's youth detention scandal is continuing with fingers pointed in every direction.

Independent MLA and former Labor leader Delia Lawrie called for former corrections minister John Elferink to be stripped of all his other portfolios, including attorney-general, children and families, and health, and said the NT should go into an early caretaker period before next month's election.

Labor MLA Natasha Fyles said that every day Mr Elferink remained a minister Chief Minister Adam Giles was failing Territorians, and called for him to resign as well.

She said his claim that he wasn't aware of the disturbing CCTV footage of young inmates being abused by guards was "simply unimaginable".

"Adam Giles must have known about it, there were reports tabled in parliament, issues had been raised within the local media," Ms Fyles said.

Mr Giles blamed Labor.

"We inherited this and we've been trying to fix it ... we've been here three-and-a-half years and we're doing our damnedest, shutting detention centres and putting in new ones," he told Mix 104.9FM.

He also accused former NT ministers, Ms Lawrie, and new NT senator Malarndirri McCarthy, saying "Labor have got their hands all over this, I'm the only bloody person who's got the balls and the guts to stand up and try and deal with it".

But Mr Giles also came under fire on Wednesday for comments he made to parliament in 2010: "If I was the prisons minister, I would build a big concrete hole and put all the bad criminals in there: 'Right, you are in the hole, you are not coming out. Start learning about it'," he said at the time.

"What I do not understand is how we are soft, flaccid, and incapable of punishing prisoners in our corrections system ... I might break every United Nations' convention on the rights of the prisoner but 'get in the hole'."

He justified those comments by saying he had spoken out of frustration and in solidarity with a community fed up with youth crime.

Aboriginal groups including the Northern and Central Land Councils and legal and health organisations united to call on the federal government to work with them on the royal commission and to ensure the process was completely separated from the NT government.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett told the ABC the federal government should intervene in the NT.

"I don't believe the Northern Territory government is competent to be running its youth justice system and I think there is a strong case for the federal government, with the support of other states, to take over the management of that until it is in good and proper shape," he said.

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