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Chief Minister Once Called Asylum Seekers "Scum"

"The sting in the tail is we are taking potential dongas off disabled kids in Alice Springs to house scum, asylum seekers... "

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Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles once shouted that asylum seekers were "scum" during a parliamentary debate.

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Giles has come under fire in recent weeks after a royal commission was announced in response to footage aired on the ABC's Four Corners of boys being "tortured" in the NT juvenile justice system.

His past comments, which include an outburst during a parliamentary debate in 2011 when he said criminals would be put in concrete hole if he were ever corrections minister, are now under the microscope.

In 2009, then-opposition infrastructure spokesman Giles launched an attack in parliament on the Labor government over some demountable school rooms (known as "dongas") in Alice Springs that were going unused.

The sting in the tail is we are taking potential dongas off disabled kids in Alice Springs to house scum, asylum seekers, in Christmas Island. We cannot house Territorians or support a disabled kid, but we can give accommodation to people traffickers over on Christmas Island. That is exactly what happened.

Giles said "the place always looks like scum as you drive down the street" under Labor. He also appeared to call people smugglers, "Kevin Rudd's scum".

We have Kevin Rudd’s scum, bringing boat people over, and we cannot house the First Australians, but we can house the next ones, or the people who want to be the next Australians. We can send dongas to Christmas Island to house the boat people, but cannot house the homeless, Indigenous people in Alice Springs, and we cannot house homeless people in Alice Springs. We could have used those dongas across the Territory, brought some up to the Bechtel site. We could have used them to help solve the housing crisis.

The following day, Giles claimed he was not calling asylum seekers "scum", only people smugglers, despite the record showing otherwise.

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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