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NT leader to formally complain to ABC

AAP logoAAP 15/08/2016 By Neda Vanovac

The Northern Territory's chief minister says he will make a formal complaint to the ABC about its "one-sided, biased opinion piece" episode on Darwin's Don Dale youth detention centre.

Adam Giles was quick to support the announcement three weeks ago of a royal commission into the abuses committed against youth inmates at the centre between 2010 and 2015, but over the past week has attacked the show for what he says is biased and racist reporting that was deliberately timed for broadcast in the lead-up to an election campaign.

The NT goes to the polls in 12 days, on August 27, and the ruling Country Liberals have been tipped to lose government.

On Monday Mr Giles told reporters in Darwin that he would make a formal complaint to the ABC.

"I think what they've done in political bias to support NT Labor is unconscionable ... but knowing Four Corners and the ABC I don't think anything will come from it," he said.

The government had instituted many changes since the incidents shown in the footage, he said, such as improving staff training and giving the children's commissioner greater access to the centre, but says none of that was reflected in the program.

"It's unlike a politician to bag out a particular program and a particular broadcaster and it's not with faint praise that I stand up and do that," Mr Giles said.

The program was an insult to the hardworking people in youth detention, corrections, police and nursing, he said.

"These people walk down the street and they get abused and spat at. That's Four Corners, that's the publicly funded taxpayer machine, it's an absolute disgrace," Mr Giles said.

"I think Four Corners has a lot to answer for; so does the Labor Party, they're both in cahoots and I'd like to see a response."

But he sidestepped questions about whether he agreed with former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had been "unprofessional" for responding so quickly to the episode with the announcement of a royal commission, which he also termed "an abject waste of money".

"Most certainly we acted very quickly and Malcolm wanted to get on the front foot in this regard," Mr Giles said.

"I'm human, I felt for those kids in that show (but) I think we're all well aware now that Four Corners ran a one-sided biased opinion piece when they put that story to air."

ABC journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna, who produced the report, rejected Mr Giles and Mr Kennett's allegations.

"The idea that the ABC or 4 Corners timed the program with an election campaign is offensive and wrong, we did not do that at all," she told ABC local radio.

She rejected criticism that the program told the story of 2014 but not of 2016, and said she was not presented with evidence that training had improved for staff.

Ms Meldrum-Hanna also said the corrections department didn't respond to numerous follow-up questions and 4 Corners was prevented from speaking to guards who currently work at the centre.

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