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HomeIssue 2Chief Minister backs McRoberts investigations

Chief Minister backs McRoberts investigations

Sir – I reassure Territorians that the conduct of the former Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police will be vigorously investigated.
Investigations are underway on a number of fronts, meaning the issue will be examined by a number of independent agencies.
We have the Solicitor for the Northern Territory, the Ombudsman and the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner all looking into the matter.
I have full confidence in the ability of these bodies to identify any potential misconduct and examine all relevant information.
They will then determine what actions are required and the agencies will refer their findings to the appropriate agency, including the Director of Public Prosecutions if warranted.
The Public Interest Commissioner has made the correct decision to stand aside having declared a conflict of interest in the matter.
The Commissioner did this on January 10, less than a day after the allegations regarding the former commissioner were raised with Government and prior to any substantive decisions were made about subsequent investigations.
This is precisely what should have occurred so public confidence in the investigation could be maintained.
The investigation is now been conducted by Ms Caroline Norrington, a former Crown prosecutor, university lecturer in evidence and criminology and a solicitor and barrister. Ms Norrington has 11 years’ experience as a legal practitioner and public interest disclosure investigator.
I expect the investigation conducted under Ms Norrington will be fearless and if the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner decides it needs additional resources or advice they have my support in seeking it.
In addition, the Solicitor for the Northern Territory is investigating a number of issues arising from the resignation of the former commissioner:
• whether anything in the conduct of the suspended senior Police Officer warrants taking action against that officer other than suspension;
• whether anything in the conduct of former Commissioner prior to his resignation could constitute a breach of the NT Police Force Code of Conduct and Ethics or a breach of any criminal offence provision;
• whether any of the actions of former Commissioner and/or the suspended officer involved any conflict of interest, and if so the nature of such conflict and
• whether any changes may be required to existing Police policies, protocols or procedures governing conflicts of interest.
The Government has acted swiftly when it was made aware of allegations regarding the former commissioner’s conduct on January 9.
We then moved quickly to trigger an investigation into the allegations and commenced the process which saw the Commissioner resign a few days later.
It’s now time for these investigations to be allowed to proceed at arm’s length from both Government and Police. This is the proper way they should operate and it is what is occurring.
Once complete, the Ombudsman will report findings to the Legislative Assembly and the Public Interest Commissioner will advise the Police Commissioner of the outcome of the investigation, who in turn would brief the Police Minister.
The Solicitor for the Northern Territory will advise the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner of the outcome of that investigation.
Chief Minister Adam Giles


  1. Interesting to see that the investigation is now been conducted by Ms Caroline Norrington who is the Senior Policy and Investigation Officer of the Information Commissioner and Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosures.
    On Ms Norrinton’s watch the backlog of Freedom of Information (FOI) claims has swelled to such an extent that making a FOI application, or appealing to the Information Commissioner when the FOI is blocked, is arguably a waste of time.
    The backlog of FOI appeals is now well over 12 months.
    Embarrassed by revelations from an FOI application that saw the CLP Government taken to the Supreme Court by a teacher, the Government has effectively blocked access by NT citizens to the FOI process.
    Ms Norrington has been their agent in this and that is exactly why she is investigating the Commissioner.
    Only an independent investigation will resolve this mess.

  2. You can’t have hillbillies investigate hillbillies.
    ISIS must be rubbing their hands together: “Look how easy it would be to outsmart the NT Government. We could buy our way into Australia.”

  3. Give it time. Regardless if the so called “Chief” backs this investigation or not (he has to by the way) it will go ahead as it’s bigger than him.
    It includes the state and Federal Police.
    Mark my words, what they uncover will be bigger news than McRoberts, news the “Chief” will be scrabbling (he already is) and attempt to hide and contain.
    Very fitting words: Power wears out those who don’t have it!

  4. Bob Berrimah’s comment about hillbillies is too much to resist, especially in light of recent fierce criticism by Tony Fitzgerald against the Liberal-National Party under the rule of Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.
    Fitzgerald, of course, was the head of the Fitzgerald Inquiry in the late 1980s that investigated decades of corruption of the National Party regime in Queensland, mostly under the rule of the Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
    A very illuminating account of that regime and of the Fitzgerald Inquiry was published in 1989 – “The Hillbilly Dictator” by journalist Evan Whitton. The publisher was ABC Books.
    I have a lot of favourite quotes from that book but by far one of the most pertinent for all democracies is the following: “The media lies at the heart of democracy. It is significant that once the media got serious, the Bjelkist system collapsed like a house of cards. Corruption cannot stand scrutiny.”
    Whitton’s observation was made in light of the role that two prominent ABC journalists – Chris Masters and Quentin Dempster – played in unequivocally bringing to light the extent of corruption that characterised the Bjelke-Petersen regime.
    Of course, everyone had been aware for many years of the real nature of politics in Queensland but had effectively tolerated or turned a blind eye and deaf ear to all that was going on.
    To quote Whitton again: “Uproar was relatively muted in Queensland, possibly because journalists and people in the Labor Party also took shares.”
    There’s no doubt in my mind that a far more sophisticated yet highly questionable regime has long operated in the Northern Territory. But where are the Chris Masters and Quentin Dempsters of our time, especially in the taxpayer-funded ABC?
    There are just none to be found. As far as the Northern Territory is concerned, we are out of sight and mind with the rest of Australia, and that has long provided a perfect cover for an administration that has never come under genuine scrutiny for its performance.

  5. How right you are Alex Nelson. Fitzgerald’s recent interiew on such was facinating and concerning.
    The quote you noted:
    “The media lies at the heart of democracy. It is significant that once the media got serious, the Bjelkist system collapsed like a house of cards. Corruption cannot stand scrutiny.”
    This rings very true, and timely for the current “Giles Governemnt”. Especially the words “once the media got serious”.
    We only have to take a close look at the past week’s cross section of media to see the tide has turned on Adam’s flashy smile and numerous motherhood statements.
    They predicted “a new news story or two from level 5 last week as an apptempted diversion – they got it: Litchfield Shire Council sacked and Australia Day in other cities not just Canberra.
    This week they have already said they expect the attempted focus to be on a Labor Leadership crisis, which will unfold naturally as it always does.
    What Giles and camp don’t see is the media-table being laid for a feast. They (media) have not been diverted from the McRoberts disaster, they know the NTG leadership were directly involved and they know it is a very serious criminal investigation out of the government’s hands (thankfully). It’s only a matter of time and process.

  6. Alex Nelson you say “we are out of sight and mind with the rest of Australia, and that has long provided a perfect cover for an administration that has never come under genuine scrutiny for its performance.”
    But we still have a free and independent press, right here with the Alice Springs News Online.
    And we have recourse to the law courts, difficult and expensive as this for aggrieved individuals, the NT Government has no special influence.
    The willingness of individuals to stand up to, and challenge, the Government in these domains will shape the future of our society here in the Territory.

  7. In response to Jones (Posted February 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm), in particular to his statement: “And we have recourse to the law courts, difficult and expensive as this for aggrieved individuals, the NT Government has no special influence.”
    My experience with “recourse to the law courts” in the NT since 1997 (including NT Local and Supreme Courts, and the Federal Court of Australia) has revealed our legal and judicial system is not independent or free from “special influence”.
    However, the media (ALL MEDIA) has studiously avoided reporting on the legal issues I’ve raised over the past two decades. This is despite both the ABC and the Murdoch press requesting copies of court transcripts in the earlier period of my long struggle which I made available to them at my expense.
    However, in relation to legal expenses (including all court decisions and costs awarded against me), the only expenses I’ve paid for are the deliberately exorbitant costs of obtaining court transcripts. Otherwise I’ve not paid a cent.
    It’s very much a case of letting sleeping dogs lie. Four magistrates have stated to me over the years that the questions I’ve raised can only be determined by the High Court of Australia. I’ve got the transcripts of three of them – the fourth, from last year, I don’t have.
    I don’t even know the name of the magistrate that heard my case last year, and there has been no follow-up by the court, just the same as with all the others.
    As I’ve also stated on the record, this situation will continue indefinitely so long as the media can be guaranteed not to report a word of it.
    For a clue about what I’ve been questioning now for many years, get hold of the book “Malcolm Fraser – The Political Memoirs”, published in 2010.
    It’s several hundred pages long and a very comprehensive account of Mr Fraser’s life. I bought a copy to see what he wrote about the establishment of self-government for the Northern Territory in 1978, when he was Prime Minister.
    It was the first such devolution of powers in Australia since Federation. He mentions not one word about it.
    As I say, it’s all about letting sleeping dogs lie.


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