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Claims NT intervention report a rewrite -

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ELEANOR HALL: Two members of the board reviewing the Federal Government's Northern Territory
intervention have rejected newspaper speculation that the Federal Government put pressure on them
to deliver a more positive final report.

The Australian newspaper is reporting today that, in stark contrast to its final report, the
board's draft report was staunchly opposed to the intervention.

And while some members of the board are playing down the relevance of that draft report, one board
member says the final report could be construed as a watering down of the opposition to the Federal
Government's emergency intervention.

Tanya Nolan has our report.

TANYA NOLAN: Marcia Ella Duncan says several drafts were written of the report reviewing the
Federal Government's Northern Territory Emergency Response.

But she says one important fact hasn't changed:

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: The board does not support the intervention in its current form.

TANYA NOLAN: But journalist Paul Toohey says he's seen one of those draft reports and says it's
dramatically different from the final report released by the Federal Government on Monday.

PAUL TOOHEY: The final report has deliberate statements supporting the Northern Territory Emergency
Response, the draft has no such statements and is quite an angry and condemning assessment of the

TANYA NOLAN: In his front page article in today's Australian newspaper, Paul Toohey juxtaposes some
of those statements of the draft report with those in the final report.

EXTRACT FROM ARTICLE: The negative impacts of the Northern Territory Emergency Response actually
further damaged the health and well being of Aboriginal communities.

The full and long-term consequences may reverberate throughout the community for many years.

The negative impacts of the Northern Territory Emergency Response may have, in some cases actually
further damaged the health and well-being of Aboriginal communities.

TANYA NOLAN: Paul Toohey says that's one example of how the strident anti-intervention stance of
the board has been toned down in its final report.

He says another is the omission of many first-hand accounts of the negative effects of the
intervention made by Aborigines and those working in their communities

PAUL TOOHEY: The rest of it is riddled with complaints from Aboriginal people and academics,
condemning the intervention. All those remarks were pretty much removed in the final report.

It used those sources, who make a strong argument against the intervention.

TANYA NOLAN: Board member Marcia Ella Duncan says some comments were removed from the final report
because the board wanted a very succinct document to present to government.

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: We've quoted some of those submissions and testimonies from people from time to
time, but we wanted to keep the document very succinct and we wanted to make it clear to the reader
that it was the board's considerations and deliberations.

TANYA NOLAN: By keeping it succinct do you think you watered down any of your views about the
inadequacy of the intervention?

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: Look it was never the intention to water down or soften...

TANYA NOLAN: But do you think that was the result?

MARCIA ELLA DUNCAN: It may be perceived that that was the result, it certainly wasn't the view of
the board.

TANYA NOLAN: Ms Ella Duncan explains that in some instances the board simply changed its mind on
certain recommendations, like the one relating to children learning English as their first

But she rejects any suggestion that the changes are the result of any direct or indirect government

The board's chairman Peter Yu concurs.

PETER YU: The report rule is that the report will be right and we maintain our independence
throughout the whole process, and the Government has respected that.

We only had one meeting with the Minister right at the very end of it, just prior to the release of
it, the report as we had conducted a number of discussions with senior bureaucrats in Canberra as
part of the process of the conduct of the review.

So we've maintained a very strong view about the independence of this review, and we've conducted
the review in that manner.

TANYA NOLAN: The board's final recommendations include keeping the quarantining of welfare payments
but only in more targeted ways. The reinstatement of the permit system on Aboriginal lands, and the
deployment of more police officers to Aboriginal communities.

The Coalition says it will oppose any softening of welfare controls. A spokeswoman for Indigenous
Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the Government's response to the review will come shortly.

ELEANOR HALL: Tanya Nolan reporting.