On 25 July 2016, the ABC’s Four Corners current affairs program ran an alarmist story about the Northern Territory’s Don Dale youth detention facility in a story titled “Shame”. The story aired a month before the 27 August 2016 NT election - which the then Giles Country Liberal Party Government lost in a landslide (14.3% TPP swing, retaining a paltry 2 seats).
The program lead with a detained youth in a spit-hood strapped in a chair, and featuring rioting juveniles eventually quelled with tear gas. The Federal Coalition Government was shocked into a knee-jerk response.
The very next morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (after consulting with his wife) announced a highly-expensive and poorly-targeted “Royal Commission (RC) into Juvenile Detention in the Northern Territory.” This RC was set up without consideration of the context, the ABC’s selective reporting and editing (as Australia soon discovered) or consulting with the then-government of the Territory. Moreover, one of the two Royal Commissioners signalled his verdict on social media soon after he was selected – well before any Commission hearings had occurred.
Left wing activists thousands of kilometres away in capital city CBDs were quick to organise protests (pictured) demanding prosecutions based on the contents of the story.
On 24 May 2018, Territory police advised that no charges would be laid despite the Commission’s findings, prompting even the chief “victim” of the Four Corners program, Dylan Voller, to say it was all a “waste of money”.
Mark this occasion of sensationalism and knee-jerk political reactions by:
- watching that Four Corners Don Dale alarmism that caused so much angst,
- surveying the damage wrought by the Gillard Labor government's knee-jerk reaction to the Four Corners alarmism on cattle exports in 2011, from the rural media and the now foreign minister
- further reviewing the potted history from the Four Corners alarm about greyhound racing and the fall-out including
- then-Premier Mike Baird declaring his Coalition government would shut down the NSW greyhound racing industry,
- after which the government lost a November 2016 by-election to the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, and
- despite attempts to backtrack (and controversy over proposed council amalgamations), Premier Baird resigned in January 2017
- reviewing the comparatively mature and measured response by the Coalition government to the latter sheep export concerns
- reflecting on the lives of too many Aboriginal children growing up in dysfunctional, abusive households in regional and jobless outback communities and those in law enforcement left to pick up the pieces of entrenched dysfunction, and/or
- sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, those concerned for children in dysfunctional remote communities and other clear-thinking, genuinely compassionate Aussies.