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NT children need tough decisions: Giles

AAP logoAAP 25/08/2016 Neda Vanovac

By Neda Vanovac

DARWIN, AUG 25 AAP - Successive governments had shied away from removing indigenous children from their families for fear of being accused of launching a new stolen generation, the Northern Territory's chief minister says.

The Northern Territory's leaders have gone head-to-head at the final of four debates ahead of Saturday's election, with 50 undecided voters asking them a range of questions about special education, land release, affordable housing and the environment.

When questioned about neglected and abused children in the wake of the Don Dale juvenile justice scandal, Mr Giles said: "There are many families unfortunately who are broken ... We never put the full interest of our kids first to get the best start in life.

"I think we're all too reluctant to make tough decisions in those kids' lives ... I know there are kids who are mistreated in the NT who shouldn't be in the family settings they are right now."

When asked if he would have the guts to do what's needed, he said, "I'm not saying I've got the guts to do it, for the simple reason being that every time I've stood up and tried to say something I've been accused of trying to create the next stolen generation; I don't want that, but I do want to look after that child."

Mr Giles said policies around child protection had to be included in the terms of reference of the upcoming royal commission.

Many voter questions on Thursday evening revolved around declining trust in government.

When asked why Territorians should trust either party to govern, Labor leader Michael Gunner said his government would be consultative, would release difficult or "unpalatable" reviews and documents in an effort to restore trust to government.

When asked what guarantee he could give that he would remain leader for a full term if elected, he said "I can give an absolute guarantee that every single member of my team, all 25 of us, recognise the next term of government in the NT simply cannot have that same level of chaos ... We will be a steady, stable government."

When Mr Giles was asked the same question, he said, "you can't guarantee anything in politics."

He accused Labor of not releasing election promise costings, seven hours after Labor released thorough details, and said it would sack 1500 public servants, although Labor says 27 senior executives would go and another 53 positions would go through natural attrition.

The leaders faced questions on special education funding, affordable housing, land release and the potential sale of PowerWater Corporation, which Labor insists a re-elected CLP will do, while Mr Giles said he would "absolutely" resign if it was sold.

The final audience vote was 58 per cent for Labor, 12 per cent CLP, and 30 per cent still undecided.

AAP nv/

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