• The Northern Territory community is concerned about the judicial system over Jack Sultan-Page's death (NITV)Source: NITV
Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink said Friday he believed the NT justice system was working well following the sentence of a man Wednesday over the death of an 8-year-old boy in a hit-and-run incident in 2014.
By
Danny Teece-Johnson

Source:
NITV News
23 Jul 2015 - 4:37 PM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2015 - 6:02 PM

Mr Elferink dismissed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda's concerns of a seeming double standard when sentencing Aboriginal Northern Territorians.

"I have full faith in the justice system of the Northern Territory and I reject the notion that the justice system deals with Aboriginal people unfairly," Mr Elferink said Friday.

"We have a justice system that is just and it's a justice system that works well."

There has been an outcry in the Northern Territory after a driver high on ice, involved in a fatal hit and run, was given on Wednesday what many people feel was a slap on the wrist.

The sentence of six months home detention and a $2,090 fine of Matthew Alexander has shocked and saddened the community, with politicians raising questions over the case.

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Court documents confirmed Thursday that Mr Alexander had not had his driver's licence suspended over the incident and was still free to drive.

Many continue to ask if the law applies equally to all Territorians and if there are double standards in the sentencing of Aboriginal people.

Northern Territory Shadow Minister for Indigenous Policy Ken Vowles said he had much sympathy for the family.

"As we saw in certain media outlets they were very distressed around the sentencing and I think the DPP needs to look at this and review it"

"It's such a traumatic experience they've lived through and its been eight months waiting for this court case," he said. "As we saw in certain media outlets they were very distressed around the sentencing and I think the DPP needs to look at this and review it."

Attorney-General John Elferink said he could not order an appeal against Matthew Alexander's sentence.

He said the Department of Public Prosecutions head was considering his comments and would make a decision on whether to appeal.

"Let me start with this, my sympathy goes to the Sultan-Page family, of course this is still a very raw wound and I hope that time will give them comfort as time passes," Mr Elferink said.

"But having made that observation I've spoken to the head of the Department of Public Prosecutions today but it is beyond the reach of me as the Attorney General to direct the DPP to do anything.

"I have full faith in the justice system of the Northern Territory and I reject the notion that the justice system deals with Aboriginal people unfairly"

"It's particuarly beyond my reach to ask a court to do anything of that nature. So it's in the hands of the DPP and I'll await the decision of the Public Prosecutor Jack Karczewski."

Ken Vowles echoed the Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda's view on Wednesday that Matthew Alexander's sentence was questionable.

"I had people call my office complaining about that as well," Mr Vowles said. "It's a serious issue and I urge the DPP to have a look at that case.

"I dont think it passes community standards, a situation where a young boy, regardless of race, colour or religion or anything like that, to be run over and to get a home detention is something concerning."

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said Wednesday that he was bewildered by the sentence and could understand the community outrage.

"We look at our mob going to jail for the simple thing of not paying fines, yet someone can be involved in the death of a child and there is no sanction whatsoever," Mr Gooda said.

"And I just find it hard to comprehend and I think that any reasonable person, it doesn't matter where they come from or whether they are Aboriginal or not, would have difficulty in understanding this decision."