NT team Canberra-bound for inquiry talks

Lucy Hughes Jones

The Northern Territory will send a team to Canberra to press the federal government about stumping up cash for the juvenile justice royal commission recommendations.

The probe, triggered last July when footage of boys being tear gassed, shackled and spithooded inside youth prisons was aired on national television, was jointly funded by the federal and NT governments.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the commission, is still yet to commit to a co-payment arrangement around any of the inquiry's 226 recommendations.

Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield says representatives from a newly established body tasked with overseeing inquiry reforms will head south for negotiations in the next few days.

"We'll continue to ask the federal government to help us," she said on Thursday.

"Many of the recommendations are focused on the federal government as well, so we want to have a good understanding of what they're going to do."

On Tuesday Chief Minister Michael Gunner revealed the already over budget $54 million inquiry would likely cost Territory taxpayers an extra $16 million as public servants worked "mind boggling" amounts of overtime.

Mr Gunner said when discussing the bill with Mr Turnbull, he asked that Canberra contribute in-kind as the hearings were conducted in the NT.

"The prime minister asked for a definition of "in-kind" and then indicated that the Australian government prefers cash," Mr Gunner said.

The Labor leader has pledged $50 million towards replacing Darwin's notorious Don Dale detention centre, and expects Mr Turnbull to match it.

A UN expert committee on racial discrimination grilled federal government officials in Geneva this week about whether it will implement the commission's recommendations, demanding answers on Australia's low age of criminal responsibility.

The NT government has accepted "in principle" a recommendation for an Australian-first increase in the age a child can be charged, brought to court and imprisoned from 10 years to 12.

When asked about a timeline for this legislative change, Ms Wakefield said a "table of reforms" will go to the parliament throughout 2018.

"We are going to take our time, because one of the reasons we're in this position today has been thought bubble policy in reaction to crises," she said.