Beattie to visit Palm Island - the Age - 18th December 2006

Beattie to visit Palm Island

December 18, 2006

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has agreed to visit Palm Island to explain a decision not to charge the police officer involved in a contentious death in custody.

Mr Beattie admitted today the move not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee had not been "well explained" to the north Queensland community.

Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Leanne Clare last week found there was not enough evidence to charge Snr Sgt Hurley with Mulrunji's death.

The decision came despite a finding earlier in the year by deputy state coroner Christine Clements that the police officer inflicted the blows which killed Mr Doomadgee, 36, at the island's police station in November 2004.

Palm Island's new mayor Delena Foster yesterday urged Mr Beattie to visit the community, as tensions continued to simmer over the decision.

Mr Beattie said today he would would visit on either Wednesday or Thursday.

He said he would present a report by the state's Solicitor-General Walter Sofronoff, QC, explaining how two very different verdicts could be reached.

"I accept that this hasn't been well explained," Mr Beattie told ABC radio.

"Clearly there will be some misunderstandings in the community when you can have a coroner say one thing and a DPP say another, unless it's explained adequately and properly, and I don't think that's been done to date."

Mr Beattie said he would ask Mr Sofronoff to accompany him to explain Ms Clare's findings, which have sparked nationwide condemnation and calls for an independent review.

Mr Beattie said any review of the decision was a matter for Queensland's Attorney-General.

"But it is important that we respect the independence of the DPP," Mr Beattie said.

"I don't have a problem if the DPP seeks another opinion, but it is wrong for those who suggest that whenever the government of the day doesn't like a DPP's decision we should overrule it in some way."

ALP national president Warren Mundine will lead protests on Palm Island on Wednesday.

Mr Mundine said today he was embarrassed by his own political party, and called on the Beattie government to reconsider the DPP ruling.