QUEENSLAND'S acting Premier, Anna Bligh, says the Christmas
holiday season is frustrating the Government's search for a legal
figure to head a review of an Aboriginal death in custody.
But she said progress was being made, with the Government
drawing up a shortlist of six people including some from
interstate who might conduct the review of the death of
36-year-old Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island, off Townsville, in
Ms Bligh said contacting people would be difficult because some
might still be on holiday during the Christmas-New Year period.
"Unfortunately, at this time of year, it is not always easy to
make direct contact with people in these positions," she said.
But her office was "making every effort to be in a position as
early as possible to make that appointment".
"Can I say to the people of Palm Island and to the families
affected by this issue that
there is an expectation that
this will be resolved as quickly as possible," she said.
In September, state deputy coroner Christine Clements ruled that
Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley caused Mr Doomadgee's death. But the
Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare, decided
not to charge Senior Sergeant Hurley over the death, labelling it a
A former chief judge of Queensland's District Court, Pat
Shanahan, was appointed to review the case, but quit over a
perceived conflict of interest after it was revealed he had sat on
a panel that appointed Ms Clare to her position.
"My preference is to secure the services of someone who has the
experience necessary to undertake a very tough job and enjoys the
respect not only of the legal but also the broad community," Ms
"I'm not looking at state borders. The primary consideration is
to find the best person."
Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine who provided the
shortlist after meeting the state's acting crown solicitor
yesterday has not ruled out the review delivering a
different judgement to the DPP's.
"The point of the review is seeking a second opinion of another
expert and, of course, lawyers do differ in their views," he
"So it is quite possible that some people come up with a
different opinion. It is not a question of examination of conduct
or misconduct (by the DPP) or anything of that nature."
Civil libertarians and indigenous groups have called for the
reviewer to be an independent person from interstate.
But Aboriginal activist Sam Watson said the review was
"Every single Aboriginal person would have lost any confidence
in (Peter) Beattie in his capacity as (Queensland) Premier and in
the criminal justice system to deliver any justice," he said.
"Beattie will ensure that the person appointed is a paid-up
member of the Peter Beattie fan club."