On 26 November 2004 in the lounge room of Snr Sgt Hurley’s police residence on Palm Island – before it was set alight by a police informant – lay a copy of Carters Criminal Code of Queensland.
It had Hurley’s name written on the inside. It was this code that was to help make Hurley a free man despite his killing Mulrunji seven days previously at the police watchouse. Its authors were listed as Shanahan, M J; Smith, P E; Ryan, S — Queensland judges all. A long line of Queensland judges have authored the Qld Criminal Code updates. This code dates all the way back to ‘the wild time’ in North Queensland when pastoralists administered rum justice to tribal aboriginal warriors who resisted the settlers who stole their land. Shanahan M J oversaw the trial and conviction of Lex Wotton, a modern day warrior – a bwgcolman man who spoke to the crowd assembled in the square near the council building on Palm on that tropic afternoon on 26 November 2004.
“Common people we can’t accept this!” cried out Wotton. These words could have been sung by any warrior over the 220 years previous and perhaps they were.
Apart from the community meetings on Palm, I have been there at every step, every court case, every speech, every petition, every rally and every march of the Mulrunji campaign.
Shanahan’s keen knowledge of Carter’s Criminal Code came in handy for the prosecution when Wotton’s NSW lawyers failed to grasp that its finer print meant they would not get right of reply to the jury after evidence was taken. Possibly not even a brilliant speech in reply by the defence could save Lex in that courtroom before that jury on that day. Wotton went down for nearly 7 years for uttering those words. Wotton took no part in the burning of Hurley’s police residence fueled by lawn mower petrol stored carelessly by Hurley under his police residence.
As the pages of the criminal code slowly smoldered there on Palms Hurley was safe and far away in Mundingburra in Townsville. As smoke rose from the pages so derivative of British common law, Wotton’s prophecy only hours before came true. “Things are gonna burn” Lex simply foreshadowed as no hope of justice slowly sunk in for every man, woman and child from Palms.
Given the result it barely seems necessary to draw readers attention to the level of corruption, inane stupidity and wilful criminality of politicians, judges, lawyers, doctors, journalists, public servants and police involved in Mulrunji’s killing by Hurley. No doubt like Judge Shanahan, they think of themselves are good, even nice, people. Perhaps they are. But not a single one was prepared to stand up – not even coroner Christine Clements – who found logically that Mulrunji was killed by Hurley and that the police sergeant then, with the help of Townsville CIB, covered up another police murder. Not one of these functionaries resigned, not one spoke out as injustice piled upon injustice. Slowly Doomadgee family members, proud descendants of Lizzy Daylight, took their own lives, overcome by saddness and loss.
But none of these shortcomings of the system in Qld compares with the failure of the Labor government to deliver social justice for Mulrunji’s family and the people of Palm island. The so-called Fitzgerald reforms bi-passed Mulrunji and the people of Palms. There is no social justice in the ABC coined term, the moonlight state.
For example I stood within feet of the then Premier Peter Beattie when he proclaimed at the gates of parliament that Mulrunji would receive justice after Christine Clements (coroner) handed down her judgement that Hurley had lied to cover-up his killing Mulrunji. Beattie spruiked to the largely aboriginal crowd at the gates:
“Many people said at the beginning (when Mulrunji died) that there would not be due process…I said at the time that the coroner would go through due process and the matter would be followed appropriately and that’s what has happened.”
Well we have witnessed what due process means in reality.
We even heard Hurley admit during his trial for manslaughter to have caused Mulrunji’s death.
Now seven years on, curiously, the outcome is best summed up by Sean Parnell, FOI editor from The Australian on May 20, 2011:
Sergeant Hurley was never convicted or disciplined over the incident — he was acquitted of manslaughter and a subsequent coronial inquest ruled the cause of Mulrunji’s death was inconclusive — he would normally be entitled, as a public servant, to have his legal expenses covered…The Australian had obtained documents, under Freedom of Information laws, showing Sergeant Hurley received a $102,955 ex-gratia payment for belongings lost when his police residence was burnt down, despite having made a claim on an insurance policy which valued his belongings at $34,419.
Sergeant Hurley also benefited from a public appeal run by the union.
The CMC this week wrote to the parties involved and is understood to have told them it believes no criminal or disciplinary charges are warranted.
The reason for the discrepancy in claims has never been revealed.”
Readers of the Australian could be forgiven for thinking that, in the end, the fuss was apparently all about Hurley’s property.
It turned out, sadly, that we were all wrong — it is lawful to kill a blackfella in Queensland.
The state, police union and insurance companies have rewarded Snr Sgt Hurley.
This is a summary of monies received by Snr Sgt Hurley
Hurley’s contents insurance policy — $34,419
Qld Police Department ex-gratia payment for belongings lost (same as above) — $102,955.00. Hurley provided no proof of purchase of the goods or their value (see Hurley’s claim documents below. Hurley received payments worth more than their value (three times over – once from the insurance company, once from the police department (at three times their estimated insurance value) plus an undisclosed sum from the Police union. How did he obtain these payments? By filling out the police department forms show below. Some of the content of those forms are still hidden from public view. We cannot under FOI make our own independent appraisal of the real value of the goods compensated. (Note the exempt stamps on the FOI documents.)
Donations from Police Union fund — $$Undisclosed sum
Claim for legal expenses from State Government — $1,000,000 (Hurley may receive payment of $750,000 of this from the Justice Minister, Roberts after cabinet approval).
Annual pay $83,343 – $88,499 plus 35% loading for working in remote area Approximate total since killing Mulrunji $700,000 approx
Plus subsidised housing and promotion to Police inspector.
By contrast the Supreme Court of Qld calculated damages owing to Mulrunji’s widow, Tracey, of $192,500 (Judgement handed down on 19 may 2011, seven (7) years after her partner was killed by Hurley). These are damages that had to be proven by Tracey Twaddle in court. .
This is how the state values a human life – the killer cleans up and the family are sent crumbs. Hurley got of scott-free – acquitted of manslaughter by a racist jury, never disciplined, no internal charges, all coronial findings against him were overturned, all the police who perjured themselves in the cover-up were never charged. Is it legal for a Police Officer to kill a blackfella in Qld – apparently yes – and he will get paid compensation for doing it.
The Crime and Misconduct commission (CMC) this week wrote to the parties involved and is understood to have told them it believes no criminal or disciplinary charges are warranted [Source The Australian].
FOI document s of police records of Hurley’s claims for compensation
These are the FOI documents of Hurley’s claims. Much is still hidden, FOI teams inside the Police & Justice Departments only let us see part of Hurley’s claim.