Editorial: Mulrunji case a shambles

WHATEVER the prevailing opinions about the Mulrunji Doomadgee case, and there are many and varied, one thing that cannot be argued about is the sloppy way the Queensland Government has dealt with the matter. After a coroner's decision which raised enormous hope in the indigenous community they and their supporters were forced to come to grips with reality, Queensland-style, when Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare reported that she would not press charges against the policeman implicated by the coroner in Mulrunji Doomadgee's death in custody.

Ms Clare steadfastly refused to disclose her reasons and 'new evidence' which she had used to come to her decision.

Amid the outcry following her decision Premier Peter Beattie flew to Palm Island on the day of a national day of protest, to be greeted by a community still simmering about the matter but determined to press for legal redress rather than take to the streets with violence, as had happened once already.

Their calls, and those of many other people, for an independent review were finally answered when Attorney-General Kerry Shine finally became involved in the matter.

His appointment then of retired Chief Judge of the District Court Pat Shanahan, a man of impeccable reputation and integrity, might have been the beginning of the new chapter promised by his actions were it not for the fact that he failed to check Judge Shanahan's connections with the DPP.

The fact that he had been on the panel which appointed Leanne Clare to her position was an obvious conflict of interest and one which a simple background check would have revealed. It's not hard to understand his eagerness to announce the judge's appointment, given the calibre of his chosen candidate, but the entire process has now been tainted by that same rush to put things right without first examining the issue thoroughly.

Mr Shine's new appointment will not please all quarters either, especially those who believe that only someone from outside this State can be truly independent of the whole process.

It has become a very sorry affair indeed and it is now questionable whether anything of any value will ever come out of the process. What a shambles – and at the centre of it, a grieving family still looking for answers.