Northern Territory Shadow Minister for Justice John Elferink
Labor’s Priority Failures
Victor P Taffa
The national media focus on Labor’s treatment of Territorians with an intellectual disability draws attention to the Government’s flawed priorities.
Shadow Justice Minister, John Elferink, said construction of secure care facilities for intellectually disabled patients is taking an eternity.
“Almost three years ago in September 2009 former Chief Justice, Brian Martin, criticised Labor for its failure to open alternatives for mentally ill Territorians charged with an offence.” Mr. Elferink said.
“At the time he warned:
‘I hope it doesn’t fall into the same black hole those other promises about housing (have).’
“Three years later, and Brian Martin’s comments have come back to haunt Labor, which is now under fire for failing to complete the facilities in Alice Springs and Darwin in a timely manner.”
“Last night on the ABC’s Lateline program Deputy Chief Minister, Delia Lawrie, tried to blame the Territory community for the Government’s failure to build the secure care facilities when she said:
‘You get the not-in-my-backyard syndrome. Everywhere we tried to place the facility in Alice Springs, there was a huge uproar.’
“This is the height of hypocrisy, given the Government’s scandalous failure to consult with residents about the site for secure care facilities.”
“The reason Labor has taken so long to open these centres are because its priorities are all wrong and the failure of Health Minister Kon Vatskalis to take any serious interest in his role as a public guardian.” Mr. Elferink said.