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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Royal Commission in youth detention in the Northern Territory

Teenager Dylan Voller hooded and strapped to a chair using a technique recently legalised in the Northern Territory

What is Malcolm Turnbull thinking, choosing a man who is hated by the Aboriginal community to head the Royal Commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory?
Brian Martin QC is the last person our PM should have picked for the job.
In 2005, Brian Martin gave a 24 month sentence - suspended after four months - to a 55 year old man who bashed his 14 year old "promised wife" with a boomerang.  In his sentencing remarks, he said he had taken into account evidence that this behaviour was permitted under Aboriginal law.
So what happened to Australian law, doesn't it apply in the Northern Territory?
Brian Martin will go down in history in Alice Springs for his remarks made when he was presiding over the case of Aboriginal man Kwementyaye Ryder who was bashed to death by five white youths. He said the boys "were otherwise of good character."
The youths, Scott Doody, Timothy Hird, Anton Kleoden, Joshua Spears and Glen Swain spent the night getting drunk and then drove down to the dry creek bed of the Todd River in Alice Springs where homeless Aboriginal people sleep. 
They decided to have some fun and ran their car at the sleeping people at high speed. They even fired a replica pistol with blank ammunition and ran over at least one swag (owned by an elderly man) with their vehicle.
But unfortunately, Kwementyaye Rider threw a bottle at their car as it drove at him.  They came back and smashed a bottle over his head and kicked him until he became unconscious and one of the youths said "don't fuck with us." 
Justice Martin sentenced one of the men to 12 months and the longest time served was four years.  One of his justifications for the light sentences was that the youths would be caused "additional hardship" in prison given the overwhelming majority of inmates are Aboriginal.

Malcolm Turnbull and Juice Martin

Yes Justice Martin has presided over high profile cases such as Snowtown's "bodies in the barrels" case and Peter Falconio backpacker murder trial, but this man is not suitable for such an important job.
The PM had the chance to bring someone in from outside the state with no bias or preconceived ideas about Aboriginal people, but he chose a man who is hated because of past wrongs and his findings will have little credibility.

Edit:  1 August 2016:  THE judge named to lead the Royal Commission into youths in detention in the Northern Territory has resigned from his role, disappointing the Prime Minister.