NEDA VANOVAC

Royal commissioner replaced

THE Federal Government has been forced to replace the head of the Royal Commission into the Northern Territory juvenile detention system after Brian Martin stood down from the role for "public interest" reasons.

Mr Martin announced his resignation from the role on Monday - four days after being selected - saying comments and criticisms about his appointment meant the Royal Commission's effectiveness would likely to be compromised from the outset.

"I am not prepared to proceed in the face of that risk," he said.

In the hours following his resignation, Attorney-General George Brandis announced former Queensland Supreme Court justice Margaret White and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda would be the commissioners.

Mr Brandis said the government did not ask Mr Martin to stand aside and that he and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull believed Mr Martin was suitable for the role.

Mr Brandis said Ms White had significant experience conducting legal inquiries and that Mr Gooda was one of Australia's most highly regarded indigenous leaders.

Mr Gooda stood down from his role as Social Justice Commissioner. He believed indigenous people needed to have confidence in the royal commission process and he was satisfied with the commission's terms of reference.

Ms White said she hoped the royal commission would go ahead with holding a directions hearing early next month, as planned.

Law Council of Australia president Stuart Clark said Mr Martin deserved credit for putting the public interest ahead of his own.

He also said the government should carefully consider a subsequent examination of youth detention in other states.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns also welcomed Mr Martin's resignation and said it was essential the royal commissioner had no background in the Northern Territory justice system.


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