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Justice---Queensland style « Previous | |Next »
December 16, 2006

It's strange. The stark differences between state Deputy Coroner Christine Clements' findings that Sergeant Hurley caused the death of a drunk Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island two years ago and Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare's decision on Thursday not to lay any charges over the incident---not even a disciplinary issue. Queensland Deputy Coroner Christine Clements had found Hurley to be responsible for Doomadgee's death. It's a stark difference.

Whilst a prisoner Doomadgee had suffered four broken ribs and his liver was torn in two and there was a police coverup as the Queensland police community (the police union and Police Minister) looked after its own. The incident caused riots on Palm Island and the Queenland police responded with heavy handed tactics: including holding children at gunpoint in nighttime raids and conducting illegal interviews, including extracting confessions from unrepresented teenagers.

PalmIs.jpg
Sean Leahy

As Noel Pearson told ABC radio yesterday:

Aborigines were looking to this [legal process] as a sign that they could actually rely upon the legal system, that the legal system was capable of dealing with them. It just shows that there's a different value of a white life and a black life in the state of Queensland.

It is hard to disagree with Pearson on this. It is an example of the significant divide between indigenous and non-indigenous people.That divide is explored here in this essay by Chloe Hooper in the March 2006 issue of The Monthly.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:13 AM | | Comments (7)
Comments

Comments

Clements over stepped the mark in her findings. That is a common belief in legal circles in Brisbane. Lack of Evidence. No Cover up. Just not enough to convict.

Shaymus,
for sure in terms of criminal law. Accepted. However, there is a difference here. The coroner is charged with finding out what happened. The DPP, Leanne Clare, operates in the adversarial system – a sort of evolved trial by combat employing champions – she decided she couldn't charge because there was a minimal chance of winning.

But gee whiz, no disciplining of Sergeant Hurley? That's real rough isn't it, given the account of the trial by Chloe Hooper in the linked essay in the Monthly, and the fact that Moordinyi was arrested because his swearing was deemed a public nuisance.

I think when the fires die down sgt hurley is moving to Tassie to work at the airport....

Palm Island has a drug and grog problem.

I beleive Noel Pearson to be a Racist so anything that comes out of his mouth I forget quickly.

Shaymus
Sure, Palm Island has a drug and grog problem but Pearson gives an account of why that is so--sit down money, passive welfare, welfare dependency and an inability of individuals to take responsibility for their actions. He says that:

CDEP had become a ghetto that traps indigenous people into a perpetual community make-work program instead of taking the benefits of employment growth in the prosperous mainstream economy. Work for the dole is always better than sit-down money, but it should never become a permanent alternative to work in the real economy.

That's neo-liberal account he offers not a racist one. Where do you find the racism in his views?

These were the kinds of stories that were regularly reported on television and in the press when I lived in the United States. Very normal for these kinds of violations of human rights to go unpunished or slap on the wrist punishments. This is just a manifestation of cultural issue that needs to be addressed at the root cause level. These kinds of incidents will continue to happen while the underlying cause of the social injustice is not tackled.

Colin,
yes it is a slap on the wrist for the behaviour of Sergeant Chris Hurley. Instead of building a culture of intolerance to brutality the police and their union the Beattie government has adopted a degree of tolerance. it's a return to the bad old days.