February 1st 2007
In response to: Reynolds "Not intimidated"
I can't wait for the constitutional experts in the Police Union to explain what they mean by "political interference".
As I understand it, the Attorney General is both an elected politician and the chief law officer. In that capacity the A-G is entitled, if not obliged, to make whatever inquiries and take whatever action he deems necessary to ensure that the justice system serves the interests of the entire community, not just the DPP or the Police or for that matter his fellow politicians.
In my opinion the A-G Mr Shine has discharged his duties with impartiality and discretion....which is more than I can say for some of the media tarts from the Police Union.
Now the Queensland Government needs to act on the corruption in its state police force. This is something Mr Beattie needs to address and I believe the problems in North Queensland include officers tampering with witnesses and attempting to alter the course of justice.
Clare and her staff must be removed, or will it take a series of articles by the Australian and Noel Pearson to make Beattie realise the Doomagee matter has caught the 'ears and eyes' of the nation.
The culture of the Queensland Police Force is not 'to honour and serve.' The culture is indeed something like what was once witnessed in South Africa under white rule. This I have personally witnessed on my stays on Palm Island over the last 20 years.
Mike Reynolds has done an excellent job in his time in the Parliament especially on Palm Island through his advisors. What we have are police officers who want to work on Palm island and consequently, thugs such as Hurley end up ruling there.
Move over Mr Eddie Mabo, the name Doomagee is about to become the most famous Indigenous name inAustralian in the 21st Century. There are prison cells for people like Hurley.
Peter F. Hughes
Deakin Law School
Mike's public calls for an investigation into the hanndling of the investigations after Mulrunji's death are also spot-on!!
I am sure there are many honest and professionally responsible Queensland Police officers, who understand that Chris Hurley's case has nothing to do with industrial relations and "political interference", and Queensland Police Union (QPU) attempts to interfere itself and operate outside its responsibilities. I believe they appreciate that QPU vice-president Mr. Fitzpatrick acts irresponsibly and provocatively, actually, discrediting Queensland Police.
Police and prosecution cannot be uncontrolled in democratic society, and Queensland Government acts lawfully via Attorney-General. I invite anyone spreading opposite opinion to provide exact references to appropriate legal acts in support of their view.
Finally, I would like to stress that current situation with Queensland Police and Prosecution suggests that it is vital for democracy to strengthen political and public control over police and prosecution and to initiate a new Parliamentary Commission - successor to the Fitzgerald Commission.
You are missing the point of the whole Police Union concern. The following is an article from a Courier Mail lawyer that explains what the Police Union is concerned about so much. Here is that article from Mirko Bagaric:
In times of crisis, individual rights nearly always yield to the common good, which is why no one should be surprised that the Beattie Government bypassed normal channels and ignored advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions not to charge Senior-Sergeant Chris Hurley for the death of Palm Island man Mulrunji.
The decision to ignore the advice of the state's most senior criminal law officer and refer the matter to Sir Laurence Street, who recommended charging Hurley, is an almost unprecedented departure from firmly entrenched protocols regarding the laying of criminal charges.
Proceeding with manslaughter charges against Hurley is viewed by the Queensland Police Union as a gross violation of Hurley's right to be treated with due process and a capitulation by the Government to indigenous groups who protested against the DPP decision not to charge Hurley.
So incensed is the Queensland Police Union at the political interference that police are now planning to march on Parliament House.
Complaints that Hurley has been singled out for special mistreatment by the Government are well founded, but there are valuable insights that the community can obtain for this unfolding drama regarding the moral and political framework in which important decisions are made.
Ultimately, human lives and tangible interests must trump grand, but empty, notions such as "individual rights".
A moral code which elevates individual rights and worships abstract notions above the common good is bankrupt and has no scope for application beyond the realms of fiction, where important rights never clash.
The reality is that sometimes rights do clash. When they do, the least horrible thing to do is that which causes the least amount of harm.
It is easy to multiply examples of individual rights being trumped in order to promote the community good.
People who are suspected of committing serious crimes in Australia have their right to liberty violated by being detained for many years before they go to trial.
Often they are acquitted and upon release don't even receive compensation.
In wartime we are prepared to engage in conduct that we know will cause the death of many civilians, in order to achieve ultimate victory.
Pressured by indigenous protests, the Beattie Government allowed its assessment of the common good to trump Hurley's rights.
But did it correctly weigh all the relevant considerations? The answer is almost certainly no.
Protests against the DPP decision were vocal and passionate, but they did not involve large-scale acts of civil disobedience.
This disquiet in the indigenous community as a result of the DPP's decision must be balanced against the adverse consequences stemming from abandoning long-established criminal process protocols.
The downside includes the fact that the authority of the DPP's office is now gravely diminished and there is enormous strain on the relationship between the police and the Government.
The preferable way to deal with indigenous unrest after the decision not to charge Hurley was for the Government to redress the injustices inherent in the criminal justice system which disproportionately operate against the indigenous population.
The revolt by the indigenous community was not solely attributable to the merits of the DPP's decision.
This was simply the straw that broke the camel's back. And rightly so. It is indecent in the extreme that indigenous Australians are imprisoned at a rate 13 times higher than the general population.
Rather than undermining what remains of the integrity of the criminal justice system by charging Hurley, the Queensland Government should have addressed the system's serious shortcomings.
By unnecessarily flouting the normal functioning of the criminal justice system, the principal message that the Government has conveyed is that if enough people yell loudly enough, "special" processes will be instituted.
The police have heeded this message and hence their decision to march on Parliament House is predictable.
History shows that this won't be effective in preventing Hurley facing a jury - unless of course, the police go on strike, thereby threatening community safety. Then the Government will really have some balancing to do.
Mirko Bagaric is a lawyer and author.
Belynda McDonald may be convinced by Mirko Bagaric's personal opinions but those views are not "the point of the whole Police Union concern".
The McDonald/Bagaric view that the correct procedure would be to "redress the injustices inherent in the criminal justice system which disproportionately operate against the indigenous population" would appear to be just what is now happening. It is not surprising that the position of DPP is "gravely diminished". That's where the problem started.
Bagaric is blowing smoke in suggesting that a police strike could prevent the accused policeman facing a jury. The whole population of Queensland would rise up against anyone trying to prevent a properly constituted court from sitting.
Belynday Mcdonald wrote, 'You are missing the point of the whole Police Union concern.'
I wonder what planet she is from?
The Qld Attorney General Kerry Shrine has used special powers under the constitution to bring an ex-officio indictment in the Supreme Court against Hurley.
Welcome to Australia Ms Mcdonald, see our justice system in action. The report tabled by Sir Lawrence Street has been made public today.
A Crown Prosecutor has been appointed by the Attorney General, in my view this is appropriate after the blunders of Clare and her department.
Hurley is now on bail.
Expoliceman Hurley will be back in court on march 16.
The Queensland police won't strike, it is written in the constitution.
And I hope and pray that as a result of this landmark trial, the Queensland police will improve their handling of Indigenous Australians.
Get a permit and head over to Palm, Ms Mcdonald. There are people there who would like to hear your opinions, especially the Doomagee family.
Peter F. Hughes
To read: Reynolds "Not intimidated" (Click here)