Mick Gooda, Margaret White Named NT Royal Commissioners

Brian Ross Martin stood down, saying he did not have the full confidence of sections of the Indigenous community.

01/08/2016 11:40 AM AEST | Updated 01/08/2016 1:57 PM AEST
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Brian Ross Martin as Royal Commissioner of the Royal Commission into juvenile detention in the Northern Territory at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 28 July 2016. Photo: Andrew Meares

The Federal Government has appointed two new Royal Commissioners to oversee the Northern Territory's inquiry into juvenile justice, after Brian Ross Martin announced he would step down because he would not have the full confidence of sections of the Indigenous community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and former Queensland Supreme Court Justice Margaret White AO were named as co-commissioners following Justice Martin's decision to stand down on Monday.

"Today's a pretty special day for me, being tasked with investigating those awful things we saw last week on the ABC Four Corners program," Gooda told reporters on Monday.

"I've been fairly vocal about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needing to have confidence in the process, to have confidence in the outcomes.

"I think I may have set myself up a bit because I will be now part of that process and it's a great -- with great humility that I accepted the offer to be royal commissioner and to take on that role."

Gooda has previously called for the NT government of Adam Giles to be sacked after the Four Corners program aired.

Justice White said she hoped there would be no change to the planned running of the commission -- which is expected to start hearing evidence in October.

Justice Martin, a former NT Supreme Court Justice, told reporters in Canberra that he could not proceed with the belief that the effectiveness of the Commission may be compromised from the outset.

"My resignation does not imply that I doubt my capacity to be both independent and competent in the role of the Commissioner, nor does it imply that I accept that there is or would be a reasonable

"My resignation does not imply any criticism of the Government, Prime Minister or the Attorney-apprehension of bias. Secondly, my decision to resign is solely my initiative only," he said.General. They have demonstrated a deep concern about the issues involved and a desire to proceed efficiently and appropriately."

Indigenous groups had expressed concern at the Federal Government's handling of the Royal Commission after it was announced last week, following the publication of shocking footage showing boys being tear gassed, stripped and tied to restraint chairs at the Don Dale Juvenile facility in the Northern Territory.

It was also revealed last week Martin's daughter had previously worked for a NT Labor government as a Justice Adviser to the then Attorney-General form late 2009 to early 2011, a period covered in part by the upcoming Royal Commission.

"Quite unnecessarily, my family has been drawn into the debate. I am not prepared to allow the unwarranted intrusion into the life of my daughter to continue," Justice Martin said.

He said he didn't doubt his ability to head the Commission, nor does it imply that he accepted there is or would be a reasonable apprehension of bias, he said.

He said it was his decision only, the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister were disappointed by his decision.

Labor on the weekend stepped up its criticism of the coalition's planned royal commission into the Northern Territory's child protection and youth detention system.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten on Saturday urged Prime Minister Turnbull to boost Indigenous participation in the royal commission.

"We do support the royal commission but we think its important that Mr Turnbull does it properly," Shorten said.

"Anything less than that i think won't deal with some of the anger that's legitimately felt in the community."

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