Minister Says Shocking Abuse Of Teenage Boys Didn't "Pique" His Interest

    "I had never seen the vision, it hadn't come to my attention, it hadn't piqued my interest."

    Indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion said shocking footage aired by the ABC's Four Corners of boys being physically mistreated at a juvenile detention centre in Darwin hadn't come to his attention because it hadn't "piqued [his] interest".

    ABC Four Corners

    Four Corners aired the footage on Monday from inside the Don Dale detention centre, which included images of teenage boys being sprayed with teargas while being held in isolation and wearing hoods and restraints.

    Scullion described the CCTV footage of children gassed and stripped naked in isolation cells as "some of the most disturbing [he has] ever seen".

    ABC Four Corners

    The minister said on Tuesday he had never seen the footage and didn't watch the Four Corners episode until after the prime minister called and told him to.

    BuzzFeed News

    "Yes, this is my patch, and for clarity, in October last year there was some commentary in the media about this but it was all about: This has all been taken care of," he said on Tuesday.

    "I made an assumption – you've got to be careful about assumptions – I assumed that the Northern Territory government were taking care of this matter and that I didn't take any further action in that."

    Scullion said he's written to his state and territory counterparts asking them whether abuse is happening in detention centres elsewhere around the country.

    Four Corners journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna tweeted her surprise the minister had not seen the program, since his office had requested an advanced copy.

    Minister Scullion says he didn't watch #4Corners until @TurnbullMalcolm alerted him? I spoke with his office at around 1pm yesterday. 🤔🤔🤔

    Scullion's office just rang me. Advised that the Minister was at dinner for "private sensitive matter involving one of my staff & family"

    Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called the revelations “shocking” and announced a royal commission into the corrections system in the Northern Territory.

    Stefan Postles / Getty Images

    “We will get to the bottom of this swiftly and we will identify the lessons that need to be learned,” Turnbull said.

    “We have here a very troubling state of affairs where clearly there has been mistreatment of young people.”

    It’s not the first time that shocking events in the Don Dale detention facility have come to light. A report was released in September last year that detailed the gassing of boys at the centre.

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here