Federal response to youth detention royal commission 'a cop out', NT Children's Commissioner says

Federal response to youth detention royal commission 'a cop out', NT Children's Commissioner says

Federal response to youth detention royal commission 'a cop out', NT Children's Commissioner says

Updated 9 February 2018, 11:10 AEDT

The Commonwealth Government gives "in principle" support to the commission's recommendations but fails to mention any funding, prompting the NT Children's Commissioner to demand a firmer commitment.

The Commonwealth Government's "in principle" support of recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT is '"a cop out", the Northern Territory's Children's Commissioner has said.

The Federal Government published its response to 28 of the 226 recommendations last night but did not mention any commitment of funds.

Children's Commissioner Colleen Gwynne said she wanted a firmer commitment from the Commonwealth.

"In principle support I always think is a bit of a cop out, it's we think it's a good idea but we don't want to commit to it," she said.

"As a commissioner when I get those sort of responses from service providers I don't accept that, I say 'you either accept it or you don't accept it'."

She expressed support for an audit of the Federal Government's spending in the NT to ensure it was being used efficiently, but said the royal commission's "big ticket items" required extra money.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said Territorians expected the Federal Government to cover half the costs of the recommendations.

"The commonwealth called a royal commission, paid for half the costs of the commission and now the royal commission and Territorians expect them to be part of funding the solution," he said.

"It should be 50:50.

"The Commonwealth must put up money — just like the NT Government has done — to deliver on the royal commission recommendations."

Mr Gunner said he would be raising the issue at today's COAG meeting in Canberra.

Commonwealth 'playing games'

In addition to the commissioner's recommendation for a Productivity Commission audit of Commonwealth expenditure in the NT, the Federal Government said it also supported a review of Commonwealth and Territory government spending.

Mr Gunner said Social Services Minister Dan Tehan did not inform him that the Commonwealth would seek to have the Territory's spending scrutinised as well.

"He only acknowledged that there was going to be a Productivity Commission inquiry into the Commonwealth, so it was not a good start to the relationship it was fair to say, that that was not disclosed," he said.

Mr Gunner said the NT would refuse to participate in a review of its spending, and that the Federal Government could not say how Terrritory money was being spent.

"We opened our books. We provided 850,000 documents to the royal commission," he said.

"I have instructed my public service that we are going to get on with the job. While the Commonwealth plays games, we are going to go to work."

"Not one public servant, not one document we're going to provide to that inquiry. We're going to get on with the job of fixing the system."

He said he would be "having words" with the Prime Minister about the "inadequacy" of the response.

Minister says Commonwealth will 'uphold our end of the bargain'

The Federal Government denied it was trying to shift responsibility for implementing the recommendations.

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said most of the recommendations were matters for the NT Government.

"The Commonwealth is saying ...we want to work with you to help you address these issues," he said.

"And where we have responsibilities, we will take those on board and make sure that we uphold our end of the bargain."

One of the recommendations the Federal Government has supported in principle is an audit of the Commonwealth spending in the Territory on family and children's services.

"The royal commission has said that the funding is there already," Mr Tehan said.

"What we have to do is make sure that the funding is properly spent and gets the outcome that are required."

You can view the full July 2016 story on the Four Corners website.