• Chief Minister Michael Gunner. (AAP)Source: AAP
The NT Government has 'backflipped' on its promise to repeal paperless arrest powers, with Chief Minister Michael Ginner's office saying his position has changed after consultation with police.
Keira Jenkins

21 Aug 2020 - 4:11 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2020 - 4:11 PM

The Northern Territory's so-called 'paperless arrest' powers are set to remain in place after a backflip by the NT Government.

Before his election as Chief Minister Michael Gunner promised to repeal the controversial laws, which allow NT police to arrest people for minor offences rather than issuing a fine.

But in the lead up to the NT election this weekend it has been confirmed that repealing these laws is no longer on the table.

A statement from Mr Gunner's office said his position had changed during his term as Chief Minister after consultation with the police.

The NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh called for the powers to be repealed in 2015 after the death of 59-year-old Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Langdon, who died in Darwin watch house after being arrested for public drinking. 

Mr Cavanagh described the paperless arrest powers as 'manifestly unfair'. He said alongside a police operation targeting public drinking at the time of Mr Langdon's arrest, the powers had increased the number of Indigenous people taken into custody.

Figures from NT Police show Indigenous people make up the majority of people - 87 per cent - who were arrested under the powers last year.

There has been a reduction in the use of the paperless arrest powers over the past few years, with 3133 people being arrested under the laws in 2017, decreasing to 2315 people in 2019.

The NT Labor Government has delivered on promises to repeal alcohol protection orders and a mandatory alcohol treatment regime.

But a promise to abolish mandatory sentencing has also been pushed back by the NT Government, with the timeframe for a review extended to 2021.

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