FEDERAL Labor politicians have condemned Queensland's Premier
for failing to intervene in a decision not to press charges over
the 2004 death in custody of a Palm Island man.
But they have stopped short of backing Labor Party president
Warren Mundine's call for a campaign of civil disobedience against
the Queensland Government similar to the one waged against
apartheid South Africa.
Mr Mundine threatened Queensland with a campaign of civil
disobedience after the state's Director of Public Prosecutions,
Leanne Clare, last week decided not to lay charges against police
sergeant Chris Hurley over the death in custody of Mulrunji
Doomadgee, despite a coronial finding that Sergeant Hurley had
played a part in Mr Doomadgee's death.
Mr Mundine will lead protests on Palm Island today as Premier
Peter Beattie arrives to try to explain the DPP's decision.
Labor's Senator Trish Crossin said yesterday that she was
"disappointed" by the Queensland Government's response.
"For the Beattie Government to almost totally ignore the
situation does not provide any answers to the people of Palm
Island, and certainly flies in the face of all the recommendations
of the (1996) report into Aboriginal deaths in custody," she
But Senator Crossin said there was "a mediation line we could
take" before turning to the extreme action of civil
A colleague, Labor MP Warren Snowdon, said it was "an absolute
travesty" that there appeared to be no justice for Mr Doomadgee's
But a campaign of civil disobedience was not "in the
short-term", a way to go about it, he said.
"We have got to rely upon the institutions of the state to deal
with all Australians, regardless of where they are from."
Mr Snowdon said that at the very least the DPP's finding should
be reviewed by an "independent person" and that review be made
A review of sorts is looking likely, with Brisbane lawyer Andrew
Boe who represented the Palm Island community
preparing to challenge the DPP's finding.
Mr Boe is waiting on some final advice from a Sydney silk before
going ahead with the challenge, but expects to make a decision
He hopes this might see a court direct Ms Clare to set aside her
decision and start again. "And I'm hopeful that if it gets to that,
that she will consider it appropriate to refer it to an interstate
DPP," he said.