Treaty Commissioner Mick Dodson needs to be stood down and the Gunner Government must immediately release the findings of its investigation into allegations he threatened violence against an Indigenous woman at a football match earlier this year, the Opposition said.
The government confirmed it had completed its investigation into the incident that allegedly saw Mr Dodson call the woman a “slut” and threaten to “knock her f**king lights out” during an incident at TIO Stadium, but has refused to reveal the investigation’s findings.
Mr Dodson remains in the Treaty Commissioner role in which he was paid an estimated $290,000 last financial year. The government has refused to say what, if any, action will be taken.
Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said the Gunner Government’s refusal to take action is the latest example of weak leadership and a culture of cover-up in the NT Labor party, that also highlights it is only paying “lip service” to its claims of not tolerating violence against women.
“We can’t understand why this government has taken such extreme steps to try and cover this up and sweep it under the carpet,” Ms Finocchiaro said.
“This is the same hypocritical government that’s happy to protest and stand with women and march with women against violence, hold up placards and signs that say things like ‘why would she lie’, and yet we’ve seen the government completely turn a blind eye to this and not show leadership, or take strong action.”
Ms Finocchiaro pointed to the government’s recent “cocaine sex scandal” as another example of covering up inappropriate conduct.
“This is a series of behavior from the Gunner Government that’s asleep at the wheel, and they are such hypocrites, on the one hand, wanting to make public statements about supporting women to fight against violence, and yet at the same time, not even standing down the Treaty Commissioner, when there is such serious allegations levelled against him.”
Mr Dodson’s lawyer told Sky News on Wednesday that the commissioner neither denies nor confirms the allegations and that he suffers from PTSD as a result of childhood trauma and does not recall the alleged incident.
Mr Gunner and head public servant Jodie Ryan, who completed the investigation, have not responded to questions.
Mr Dodson was appointed Treaty Commissioner by the Labor Government in 2019 for a three-year term. Despite information at the time claiming the costs would be $354,000 for three years, government records show taxpayers paid Mr Dodson $215,588 for the first three quarters of the 2019-20 financial year.
Those records also show deputy Treaty Commissioner and NT Labor party figure Ursula Raymond was paid $109,445 for the first three quarters of the last financial year.
Ms Raymond admitted in a December 2020 fashion magazine article that the work of the Treaty Commissioner’s office was delayed due to the pair being unable to enter Indigenous communities across the NT during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Finocchiaro said the important work of the Treaty Commissioner’s office should not be compromised by the allegations he threatened violence against a woman.
“He simply cannot continue in his important and highly-paid position, while these allegations hang over his head,” she said.
The only way the government can sack Mr Dodson is by a two-thirds majority of Parliament instructing the Administrator to remove him from the position.