More than a year since committing to a Custody Notification Service the Gunner Labor Government is yet to introduce any legislation and has given no indication about when it will.
In November last year, the Coalition Government committed $2.25 million for a Custody Notification Service across the Northern Territory to be operated by the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA).
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said that this offer would fund a CNS for three years subject to the NT Government passing the legislation needed so the CNS can operate effectively across the Territory.
A CNS is a critical step forward in addressing preventable Indigenous deaths in police custody.
“I was pleased that the Chief Minister, Michael Gunner wrote to me committing to legislation back in October 2016 and that the Deputy Chief Minister, Nicole Manison wrote to me in December 2017 confirming the Northern Territory Government’s commitment to accepting the Commonwealth offer and to legislating a CNS,” Minister Scullion said.
“But frustratingly nearly three years since my initial letter of offer and repeated requests the Gunner Labor Government is yet to introduce the required legislation and there is no indication of when it plans to do so.
“NAAJA are ready to commence a CNS but nothing seems to be happening in the Office of the Chief Minister.”
With a CNS in place, every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person taken into custody whether they are charged or not would receive immediate, culturally appropriate and holistic support and appropriate referrals to legal assistance.
“Importantly, NT Police also strongly support the establishment of a CNS as a tool to also assist the police in their engagement and interactions with Indigenous Territorians.”
The 1989 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended a mandatory, legislated CNS in all jurisdictions as a practical measure to reduce deaths Aboriginal deaths in custody and the overwhelming body of evidence from New South Wales and the ACT – the only jurisdictions to have implemented a legislated CNS – supports this.
“This is a do nothing Gunner Government that seems to be more focused on playing politics than actually delivering for the Territory.
“Just like his lack of transparency for remote housing and his missing in action Indigenous procurement policy, Michael Gunner seems to be opposed to anything that requires any partnership with Indigenous Territorians, despite the clear need and community support.
“Michael Gunner needs to answer to Territorians why he is doing nothing to progress this life saving service that will mitigate the risk of future tragic deaths in custody.”