Chris Hurley : Promotion and $100,000 | Lex Wotton : Six Years Prison

“Whatever the justification, society cannot accept that this (riot) was an appropriate response,” Judge Shanahan said.

So far, almost two dozen Aboriginal people have been jailed over the uprising. Mr Wotton – convicted a fortnight ago of leading the resistance – is the final Palm Islander to be sentenced. To this day, no police have even been disciplined for their part in the derailing of the investigation, despite the coroner’s findings.”

The moral of this story?

Police property is valuable. Aboriginal life is not.

Palm Island riot ringleader Lex Wotton jailed
The Australian
November 7, 2008

THE ringleader behind the 2004 Palm Island riot has been jailed for six years.

Lex Wotton was found guilty on October 24 of inciting the riot that resulted in the destruction of the island’s police station, the courthouse and an officer’s residence.

During the trial, the court was told 40-year-old Wotton led an angry mob on a rampage on November 26, 2004, destroying property and threatening police.

The anger erupted after the release of findings of a post-mortem examination on the body of 36-year-old Cameron Doomadgee, who died in police custody a week earlier.

Wotton will be eligible for parole in July 2010.

Judge Michael Shanahan told the court police and authorities had mishandled communication with locals in the days after the death of Cameron Doomadgee.

Many Palm Islanders believed the death in custody would not be properly dealt with, despite a number of investigations being launched, including one by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC), he said.

“Whatever the justification, society cannot accept that this (riot) was an appropriate response,” Judge Shanahan said.

Outside court, supporters of Wotton cheered at news he would be released in 19 months.

Aboriginal activist Gracelyn Smallwood said the community had been bracing themselves for a sentence of between 10 years and life in jail. She declared the result a victory for Aboriginal people.

“We are very grateful and are hoping that black and white can come together and move on with the healing process,” she said.

Free Lex Wotton NOW: To defend and support Lex Wotton and his family | This group will help to co-ordinate support for Lex and his family.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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31 Responses to Chris Hurley : Promotion and $100,000 | Lex Wotton : Six Years Prison

  1. Kakariki says:

    Fucking disgusting. Be ashamed Australia.

  2. karlc says:

    stunned, also saddened that the majority of australians are unaware of this huge injustice, seems to me many have never heard of Palm Island never mind this current miscarriage of justice thats been happening since 2004.
    I hope that a broader section of (ordinary) Australians ie. workers, prisoners, unemployed, wealthy, join in solidarity with Lex Wotton & the Palm Island people and make a dent in part of the unjust (untouchable) police culture.

  3. al says:

    You’re kidding aren’t you? 4 million in damage and a 6 year term with 2 minimum? What do we do when an Asian or Caucasian dies in custody? Does that give me the right to come and burn down some of your cultural sites? I think not because we would not even think of it probably. Time to move on kids…

  4. al says:

    Gutless wonder – didn’t think my comments would make your low grade political shit site – your stirring over this will further serve to weaken our diverse culture.
    May your funding be cut by the government and leave you homeless, you might even realise what it’s like then.

  5. @ndy says:

    G’day al,

    Um… all comments on this site are subject to my approval before they’re published. Sometimes this takes a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, but usually within the space of 24 hours, as and when I logon.

    Your comments are rather odd ones.

    A few points.

    Lex was charged with “riot with destruction”, not for being responsible for $4 million in property damage. In reality — and as the above post states — he is one of almost two dozen Aboriginal people to have been jailed over the uprising, so even from the perspective of the Queensland justice system, he is hardly being held responsible for such damage himself.

    Secondly, and as reflected in Judge Shanahan’s sentencing pronouncement, the crimes for which Lex has been sentenced to six years in prison were a consequence of the death of a Palm Island man at the hands of Chris Hurley. Hurley was subsequently placed on trial for manslaughter — the first Australian policeman to be charged with this crime (that is, a black death in custody) in Australian history — and found not guilty. At the time of the riot — and what triggered it — was the announcement of the coroner’s verdict that this man’s death was an ‘accident’. Understandably — and especially so given the history of Palm Island and the more general repression of Aboriginal people in Queensland and Australia — a very large number of people were angry and upset, and vented their anger and frustration on local police and court buildings.

    In the end, Chris Hurley, while being responsible for the death of a black man, was not only not punished, but received $100,000 compensation for lost property by the Queensland Gubbament, had his legal bills covered by his comrades in the QPU and QPS, re-assignment, and a promotion to Inspector. Lex Wotton, on the other hand, who participated with many others in a spontaneous expression of anger at the death of the other Palm Island man, and who harmed nobody, has been sentenced to six years in prison.

    You are free to call this just, as well as call me gutless, abuse my site, and wonder about the consequences on my domestic situation should my non-existent government funding be withdrawn, but I see no good reason why anybody else should join you in your vituperations.

    Cheers and beers,


  6. al says:

    No, Lex wasn’t charged with $4 million in damage, but he and a vast majority of those on the Island, beat into a frenzy by the (then) Mayor with partial information given by her, was [responsible for the damage] caused by his and others’ actions on the day.

    Qld taxpayers, as I see it, as well as the residents of the Island – decent law abiding citizens who go about their daily business without any problems – are further disadvantaged with having to replace those amenities and as one of those taxpayers, I am sad to have to replace it because someone burnt it to the ground. I believe it was Hurley’s personal property that was recompensed by the ‘gubbament’ and estimated at $100 000, I’m sure it was probably more than that, but that’s not the issue I sought to raise.

    Ordinary citizens, both black and white, expect a decency in society and those residents charged were only a handful of those ever identified as responsible for the destruction of the Island’s facilities.

    Hurley was judged by 12 peers and found not guilty, yet you were not there and presume him ‘responsible for the death of a black man’. I wondered in my original comment whether that would still be the case should Hurley have been charged with the death of an Asian, Caucasian, American etc etc as it seems to an ordinary tax payer that it never raises eyebrows until a ‘black man’ dies. All lives are valuable in whichever context or in the situation where life has been extinguished, but when did we last see buildings burnt to the ground when a Asian/Caucasian etc died in similar circumstances?

    Lex, on the other hand was judged and found guilty by 12 peers, so excuse my vituperations as I find it exasperating that so much more taxpayer’s money was required to fund a trial in Brisbane to avoid any perceived bias in a Townsville trial.

    In all of the garbage produced by those seeking to bang their drum, the focus has long since gone from the original problem of the death of Mr Doomadgee and the lasting legacy left with Jane and other members of her family.

    Stirring the pot continually will never allow the process of healing as long as the shit-stirrers keep it going hard and fast.

    Cheers and beers.

  7. Dr. Cam says:

    “I believe it was Hurley’s personal property that was recompensed by the ‘gubbament’ and estimated at $100 000, I’m sure it was probably more than that.”

    It wasn’t:,25197,23775557-5013945,00.html

    Does anyone know how much compensation the Doomadgee family has received?

  8. al says:

    And from the same news report:-

    ‘Mr Atkinson said he did not believe it was unusual for Sergeant Hurley, who owns a Gold Coast house and a beachfront unit, to have had more than $100,000 in belongings on Palm Island. “He had 17 years … in the police department and much of that had been spent on Aboriginal communities,” he said.

    “He had collected, you know, quite a few possessions. So in the circumstances, no, I don’t think that was unreasonable at all.”

    The average sum of household contents insured by singles, couples and families of all socioeconomic levels is $70,000.’

    Blah Blah Blah…and of course the newspaper is right…he had it INSURED for $35,000, not it’s net worth, probably the same as many of us, never thinking of having to use the cover and trying to save a few bucks.

    HOWEVER – yes, Doomadgee’s family should be compensated, there is no contest with that aspect, but the cheer squad should rack off and leave them to recover from their loss, but the continual dredging is prolonging the issue, don’t you think?

  9. @ndy says:

    “…the cheer squad should rack off and leave them to recover from their loss, but the continual dredging is prolonging the issue, don’t you think?”


    That’s plain silly. The police have not left Palm Island, or its inhabitants. The suffering is ongoing. The state has issued no compensation — and never will.

    In search of Palm Island’s true victims
    Chloe Hooper
    October 29, 2008

    On Monday it was announced that the twenty-two Queensland police officers involved in Palm Island’s November 26 2004 riot would receive bravery awards. No doubt it was terrifying to wear a police uniform on the island that day. Nineteen police officers found themselves barricaded in the police barracks as locals threw rocks and mangos and steel pickets over the cyclone wire fence, yelling, “We are going to burn you! Kill the c-nts, the Captain Cook c-nts!”

    Over the road the police station was ablaze, as was the house of Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley. A week earlier, Hurley had locked up Cameron [Kumantjay] Doomadgee for swearing, and left him to die with injuries consistent with a victim of a car or plane crash. Nevertheless that morning the State Coroner had announced Doomadgee’s death was the result of a fall. This riot was both a protest and payback.

    A local plumber, Lex Wotton, had given the police an hour to get off the island. The officers passed around a mobile phone and rang their wives to say goodbye, then they counted their bullets. One man took a BBQ lid to use as a shield, another a cricket bat, someone else broke billiard cues in two and handed the pieces to his colleagues for protection. The police stalled for time until helicopters and planes with reinforcements arrived. Seeing they had no hope, the rioters went home and in the end no one was seriously hurt.

    That night, crack police squads with tasers and other weaponry went from house to house arresting those identified as rioters. Pregnant women and children were made to lie on the floor while the laser lights of police rifles played over their faces. Nineteen men were flown off the island — one for each cop trapped in the barracks — and their bail conditions banned them from returning home.

    Eighteen months later, most of the officers who served on that day filed Victim Impact Statements. (The first step towards receiving compensation.) These documents are revealing — and disturbing — for their frank descriptions of racial fear and loathing. One officer wrote that his children no longer played sport on the weekend because they didn’t want to mix with Aboriginal kids. Another wrote: “I do not trust indigenous people for fear of violence…if they can try to burn my body, they will burn and hurt my loved ones.” Another wrote that he stayed up all night guarding his infant son because he was scared Palm Islanders would find his house and attack him. More than one officer claimed that they wanted vengeance: “Right or wrong,” one said, “I have harboured unhealthy desires to seek revenge which often consume all my thoughts.”

    If payback was a common desire then surely the police have now had their fill. In June 2007, Senior Sergeant Hurley, despite having been found responsible for Doomadgee’s death by the Queensland Deputy State Coroner, was acquitted of manslaughter in three hours by an all white Townsville jury. By contrast, last week Lex Wotton was found guilty of rioting with destruction — a crime which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

    One of the officers who will soon be able to look at the bravery award on his mantelpiece and contemplate his courage and sacrifice will be Detective Sergeant Darren Robinson. Hurley’s close friend, Robinson flew to Palm Island the day of Doomadgee’s death to investigate the matter. He had previously investigated Hurley’s behaviour, including allegations that the Senior Sergeant had run over a woman’s foot and left her lying on the ground. Despite the woman requiring surgery, Robinson declared her claims were “fictitious”.

    The Crime and Misconduct Commission has since recommended the Queensland Police Service consider disciplinary action over the incident, although none has been taken. The Police Service is also unlikely to take action against the officers involved in the investigation of Cameron [Kumantjay] Doomadgee’s death, despite the Deputy Coroner’s findings of wilful incompetence.

    Doomadgee’s death triggered a kind of war — with Hurley becoming a battle martyr not only for cops who feel they are victims, but for anyone who believes blacks get too much from the system. At every juncture, the Police Service’s handling of the case has shown the vast gulf between physical bravery and moral bravery. Next week, while the police hold their awards ceremony in Townsville, over the water on Palm Island the Aboriginal Council might consider giving their own series of awards for hypocrisy, humbug, and hubris.

    Chloe Hooper is the author of The Tall Man, published by Penguin.

  10. @ndy says:


    “Hurley was judged by 12 peers and found not guilty, yet you were not there and presume him ‘responsible for the death of a black man’.”

    No, I wasn’t there. But that’s not just me — that’s the conclusion reached by the Queensland Deputy State Coroner. Who conducted an investigation into Kumantjay Doomadgee’s death. If Chris Hurley was not responsible, who was? The pixies?

    Your main concern is the Queensland taxpayer. I think that there are more important concerns. Property can be repaired and replaced; Kumantjay Doomadgee cannot.

    “I wondered in my original comment whether that would still be the case should Hurley have been charged with the death of an Asian, Caucasian, American etc etc as it seems to an ordinary tax payer that it never raises eyebrows until a ‘black man’ dies. All lives are valuable in whichever context or in the situation where life has been extinguished, but when did we last see buildings burnt to the ground when a Asian/Caucasian etc died in similar circumstances?”

    Some very good questions. When DID we last see an Asian or Caucasian die in similar circumstances? That is, in police custody, suffering injuries — four broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a liver “virtually cleaved in two” — consistent — according to the autopsy report — to those of a car or plane crash victim? Further: A child on Palm Island faces a life expectancy some 20 years shorter than that of non-Indigenous Australians. When the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody took place, 15 per cent of all Australian prisoners were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. Now it’s nearly 26 per cent. (Indigenous peoples comprise approximately 2% of the population.)

    In addition:

    EMPLOYMENT: Three times more likely to be unemployed than non-Indigenous Australians. On Palm Island the unemployment rate is over 90%.

    POVERTY: Average household income is 40% lower than the non-Indigenous average.

    HOUSING: 6-times more likely to be homeless and 25-times more likely to be living with 10 or more people. While the average Australian house has 3.4 occupants, on Palm Island the average is 17 occupants.

    STOLEN WAGES: Thousands of Aboriginal workers lost an estimated $500 million due to the Queensland government withholding wages. The Beattie Government has made an offer of $55 million as settlement – only a tiny fraction of the stolen wages.

    DEATHS IN CUSTODY: Since 1990, over 200 Indigenous people have died in custody. If the 1991 Royal Commission recommendations – including that custody be used as a last resort – were implemented, Mulrunji would be alive today.

    “Stirring the pot continually will never allow the process of healing as long as the shit-stirrers keep it going hard and fast.”

    No justice, no peace.

  11. @ndy says:

    National outcry at Wotton’s sentence
    Kerry Smith
    Green Left Weekly
    November 8, 2008

    Free Lex Wotton!
    Peter Robson & Paul Benedek
    Green Left Weekly
    November 8, 2008

    Free Lex Wotton NOW
    2,470 members and counting…

    November 7 was an International Day of Action. Protests and rallies took place in Aotearoa/New Zealand (Auckland) Australia (Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville) England (London) and elsewhere (Chile)…

    Free Lex Wotton NOW: Solidarity on Wurundjeri Land. Friday, November 7, 2008, outside Melbourne County Court:

  12. @ndy says:

    NIT FORUMS: Palm island riot a sensible, necessary response
    Issue 127
    April 19, 2007

    Several Palm Islanders have been acquitted of charges related to the burning down of the local watch house. But at least one Palm Islander – Lex Wotton – awaits his day in court. CHRIS GRAHAM argues that the torching of the police station, rather than a crime, was a sensible, necessary retaliation.


    We’re a nation of people who instinctively say that violence is never the answer. But it was the answer in Iraq and Afghanistan. So why was it not the answer on Palm Island after an Aboriginal man was beaten and left to die in a police cell?

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the police watch house, the community already knew that a healthy, happy man – Mulrunji Doomadgee – had died a brutal, callous death less than an hour after being taken into police custody.

    He had allegedly been struck so hard by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley – a mountain of a man, at six foot seven inches tall with a frame to match – that his liver had been “cleaved in two”.

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the police watch house, Mulrunji had lay dying on the floor of his cell while Snr Sgt Hurley allegedly ignored closed circuit video footage of him “writhing in pain” and crying out for help. Cries, mind you, which were loud enough to be heard outside the police station, but which were ignored by police inside.

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the police watch house, Queensland police had already appointed local detectives to investigate local police, rather than the State Homicide Investigation Group as stipulated in the State Coroner’s Guidelines concerning deaths in police custody.

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the watch house, the local investigators had been picked up at the Palm Island airport by Snr Sgt Hurley. One of them was a “known friend” of Snr Sgt Hurley.

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the watch house, both investigators had enjoyed dinner at Snr Sgt Hurley’s home on the night of Mulrunji’s death.

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the watch house, Snr Sgt Hurley had allegedly already compared notes with other witnesses at the police station, a gross violation of the legal process.

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the watch house, officials had already conducted an autopsy on Mulrunji’s body without being warned that there were allegations of assault against police.

    By the time Palm Islanders set fire to the watch house, the autopsy had been publicly released, claiming that Mulrunji suffered his injuries after a “fall”.

    In short, by the time Palm Islanders set fire to the police watch house, Queensland Police had well and truly begun to seriously pervert the course of justice.

    Aboriginal police liaison officer Lloyd Bengaroo was with Snr Sgt Hurley when Mulrunji was arrested.

    Local investigators interviewed Mr Bengaroo and wanted to know what he had seen, if anything, inside the police station, where the alleged assault by Hurley took place.

    Acting State Coroner Christine Clements, in her inquiry, noted: “Bengaroo was asked whether he was watching what happened after the fall. Bengaroo said, ‘No I wasn’t’. Inspector Webber asked, ‘What were you doing? What, how come you were standing there?’ Bengaroo said, ‘I can’t remember. I just stood there because I was thinking, um, if I see something I might get into trouble myself or something. The family might harass me or something you know’.

    To which the interviewing officer, Inspector Webber, merely responded, ‘Oh, OK.’

    “How these senior investigating officers could have let that response remain unexplored was as wilfully blind as Bengaroo chose to be.”

    The Police Ethical Standards Command quickly became involved in the case. And the errors continued.

    “Even after the Ethical Standards Officers… took over the investigation, they were party to an ‘off the record’ discussion with Senior Sergeant Hurley and Officers Robinson and Kitching about discrepancies in time.

    “But this was not documented as part of the investigation by those officers; it only came to light incidentally through Senior Sergeant Hurley’s answers to the [Crime and Misconduct Commission] officer.”

    The investigation had already been seriously compromised by the time Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson ordered the CMC to take over, on November 24.


  13. al says:

    Oh, yeah, let’s beat the drum of hatred of all things ‘gubbament’ and Police again – YAWN!

    And all of the suppositions written by these academic people leave one thing out – they, you, and I, certainly weren’t there to stand and judge, so have no real idea of the way anyone felt, black white or brindle on that day as to their personal safety or what a rioting out-of-control mob would do to anyone.

    Many people, on both sides, have been very wise after the event when it is easy to intrinsically pick apart what happened and then advise what should have been done and what went wrong, but the one sided shit you dredge up to support your apparent biased claims is why Australia will never be at one.

    Many prisoners have died in similar circumstances in prisons, on the streets and in our communities at the hands of others and no-one retaliates in a like fashion and burns down buildings, even though those deaths can be as horrific and tear at the innermost human threads. Whilst those people have anger and questions such as in the case of Cameron’s death, they act like humans and not animals unleashed on the community.

    The question I would like answered most is, have you been to Palm Island to experience why there is 90% unemployment, limited housing and poverty? I’ll bet you don’t have any clue as to what that is like yourself, so spew out as many statistics on that as you see fit as it doesn’t really matter until you’ve been to see it for yourself. One of the most beautiful islands and the majority of the inhabitants, both black and white, burn it, smash it and destroy the pristine wilderness because they can.

    $88 million dollars spent in a 5 year period on a community of 3500 people, including the housing and industries begun to challenge the unemployment of Islanders and it still looks largely like a rubbish tip. Most of the Island is littered with broken cars, cans and any other form of human wastes that you’d care to imagine, the creek littered with broken prams and other delightful memories makes the people there trying to do something for their community fighting to keep their heads above water.

    Stolen wages? For God’s sake – let’s give it to the rightful claimants and say sorry into the bargain, but let’s stop paying for the mistakes of our past forefathers (just as long as you don’t get any of it).

    So keep bashing the people there trying to do some good – personally, I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to leave, why anyone stays is unbelievable in light of the personal violence dealt out by members of family groups fighting each other, and previously reported by a UK television crew as ‘being the most violent place outside of a war zone’, but I’d hate to imagine the Island if the police left it as you seem to suggest might be a good thing. What world do you live in? How many offences of violence do you reckon would occur should lawlessness become commonplace?

    Anyway, I’ve had enough to say on the subject, just take the time to visit one day and you might even run into someone and debate the matter over a cold Coke, but I expect you might be rather surprised at what you defend without knowing what goes on within. You might even take Chloe with you, she’d be right at home.

    Do the crime – do the time (Black man saying).

    My Island Home.

  14. Lumpen says:


    There’s a few problems with your arguments, some of which probably come down to different views on how we’d like the world to be (and so you can probably dismiss them out of hand) but more than a couple come down to inconsistencies.

    Many prisoners have died in similar circumstances in prisons, on the streets and in our communities at the hands of others and no-one retaliates in a like fashion and burns down buildings, even though those deaths can be as horrific and tear at the innermost human threads.

    Some people might think that this is a measure of the strength of community in Palm Island rather than a symptom of dysfunction. Despite a massive injustice in the aftermath of the beating delivered by Chris Hurley – one man dead, the suicide of others, many jailed – it seems unlikely that cops will bash anyone else on Palm Island like that again and, even though Hurley was rewarded for his actions, it seems reasonable that other cops elsewhere might also think twice as a direct result of the actions of the Islanders. I think there are interesting conclusions you can draw from this, including for the ongoing difficulties faced by the Islanders.

    Stolen wages? For God’s sake – let’s give it to the rightful claimants and say sorry into the bargain, but let’s stop paying for the mistakes of our past forefathers (just as long as you don’t get any of it).

    This is one I hear frequently. The problem is that we (non-indigenous) are continuing to enjoy privileges based on this series of thefts, even if you believe that these thefts and dispossession are things that happened in the remote past. This means a simple restitution of stolen wages does not actually square things away, even if you put aside the deaths caused by the State’s neglect and oppression.

    For me, it’s not about encouraging lawlessness but about opposing arbitrariness and the power of the State that applies it (which is to say, all of them). Calling the death of Doomadgee at the hands of Chris Hurley and the burning of a building equivalent acts of “lawlessness” is bullshit. You only need to look at the outcomes to understand the nature of the arbitrary application of laws to cops (I’m frankly amazed that charges were ever brought against Hurley, albeit belatedly) and Aborigines.

  15. Pingback: Justice? « swim/swam

  16. @ndy says:


    The question I would like answered most is, have you been to Palm Island to experience why there is 90% unemployment, limited housing and poverty? I’ll bet you don’t have any clue as to what that is like yourself, so spew out as many apparently reasoned arguments on that as you see fit as it doesn’t really matter until you’ve been to see it for yourself.

    You academics make me sick.

    Palm Island as it could be… if only those Government-funded, tax-thieving, meddlesome kids, gutless wonders, academics, and shit-stirring cheer squads stopped getting in the way of decent, law-abiding citizens who go about their daily business without any problems:

  17. @ndy says:

    The Intervention Rollback Action Group is made up of volunteers from community groups and organisations who meet regularly to discuss issues that arise from the impact of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (Intervention/Invasion).

    The Prescribed Area People’s Alliance is a group of Aboriginal people from communities affected by the NT Intervention. More than 130 people have joined Alliance over two meetings in Mparntwe – Alice Springs on September 29 and November 7.

    Today, Friday November 7, the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance held its second meeting. We have issued the following statement:

    We are outraged that today Lex Wotton, an Indigenous man from Palm Island, was sentenced for 6 years for protesting the murder of another Indigenous man by a white policeman. That policeman has since been promoted and given $100,000 compensation. Police brutality and harassment of Indigenous people continues throughout Australia, including here in Central Australia in our town camps and communities. It has gotten worse since the Intervention with new powers and military style raids.

    The NTER must be immediately repealed. The $1 billion that has been spent on rolling out this legislation has been wasted, and could have been spent supporting our communities, the services and programs that we have in our communities, that are owned and controlled by us. No one wants it.

    We are tired of people who aren’t living this Intervention saying it is good for our people. They don’t have to line up for store cards, have police come through their house or fight to keep their homes or blocks of land.

    Income management is not good for us. It’s too hard to access our money. Kids are crying all round for money for drink, for school, but nothing in our pocket. Kids are suffering under the Intervention. Income Management has to be voluntary. People can manage their own money.

    The Intervention is racist. If this was about alcohol and children, why is it just Aboriginal people that have this legislation, and not everyone else. Problems exist everywhere. We are not all alcoholics and child abusers, we are strong First Nations people and we should not be treated like this.

    The Intervention has demonised Aboriginal men. The government always says that all the women are for the Intervention and men are against it. But the majority of people in the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance are women and strong men are standing up behind them in support.

    The Racial Discrimination Act must be immediately reinstated. It must never be suspended again to push through another government policy. Every time it has been suspended, it has been so the government can do something to hurt Aboriginal people. The Federal Government must also sign and ratify the Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    These assimilation policies destroy our culture and our lives. It is the Stolen Generation all over again. The government just said sorry to us, but at the same time they are doing this Intervention. They will have to say sorry again.

    The government is refusing to build us any housing unless we sign over control of our land for 40 years or more. We say NO LEASES. We will not sign. Why couldn’t they help us out with money for our housing and services? It is our right for these things. Since they took the 5-year leases with the Intervention, they have done nothing. Why do they need 40, 80 years more? The government having this control is no good. Our lives depend on our land. It is connected to our songlines, our culture and our dreaming.

    We are angry they are threatening to close down outstations. People choose to live out on their land on outstations. It is their home, their country. The government must provide funding for outstations, not take it away so people have to move into town. Many people don’t want to live in town, they want to live on their land. In town, there is already a lot of over crowding and problems. We had to fight hard for outstations, but now we are going to have to fight hard to keep them.

    We are angry the NT government is trying to stop teaching of language in schools. We need to fight for our culture and our language. Schools must be Aboriginal way – we need bilingual schools, with two way learning. Our kids need to learn in our own languages. Culture must be kept strong.

    Us mob from outstations, town-camps and communities are all subjected to this racist legislation. So we, the prescribed area people are going to stick on our decision to keep fighting. We are not going to give up until the government stops this Intervention, listens to us and starts working with us properly.

    We call on other communities to take action, in their communities. We call for rallies here in Alice Springs and around the country to mark Human Rights Day on December 13, 60 years since the UN human rights charter was signed. We call for everyone who supports Aboriginal rights to converge on Canberra for the opening of Parliament in 2009.

    For more information or more comment contact:
    Barbara Shaw 0401291166
    Valerie Martin 0429891861

    On the Intervention, see also Marcia Langton:

    In the wake of Labor’s stunning victory over the weekend there is a lot of speculation about the future of the Northern Territory Intervention. One indigenous commentator on this is Professor Marcia Langton, who has never been one to mince her words. She has written the following article, published in today’s [November 30, 2007] Sydney Morning Herald, which says a lot about the complexities of the intervention and the social problems it is supposed to address. She points out the gender and generational dimensions of “the problem” and draws attention to the role of power within the indigenous population itself. Her approach suggests that the question shouldn’t be “intervention, yes or no?” but “intervention for whom?”

  18. @ndy says:

    Twelve months later…

    Hostages to men’s business
    Marcia Langton
    The Australian
    November 8, 2008

    ‘BIG bunga (men) politics” describes the endemic pattern of lateral violence that plagues Aboriginal family and community life, especially – though not exclusively – in remote Australia.

    It also encapsulates the dysfunctional response of mainstream Australian political institutions to the accelerating crisis in the Aboriginal world.

    Many remember the big bunga politics that brought the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission into disrepute and finally led to its disestablishment in 2004. Periodically throughout the life of that body, Aboriginal men and women who were without doubt leaders in their communities became embroiled in political theatre led by “big men” who failed to show leadership on the most pressing issues in those communities: housing, health and education.

    While the first chairwoman, the gracious but formidable Lowitja O’Donoghue (who started her long and distinguished career as a nurse) was at its helm, the body proved successful at influencing governments, negotiating bilateral federal-state arrangements for indigenous programs and leveraging state funding allocations with commonwealth “carrot” funding. Under less charming and persuasive leaders, rather more successful at football and boxing than the caring professions, the organisation faltered and left itself open to charges of incompetence and failing to fulfil its obligations.

    When I chaired the National Indigenous Working Group on Native Title in 1997 and 1998, following John Howard’s 10-point plan for native title extinguishment, I would schedule the difficult agenda items for times in the afternoon when I knew that troublesome ATSIC commissioners would be at the TAB betting on horseraces. If they were binge drinkers or carousers, the tactic was to start the meetings at the earliest possible hour of the day or, even worse, cut into their social time by reconvening meetings after dinner with an announcement that it would be a drafting session. Assured that copies would be available in the morning, the “big men” and their flying wedges of advisers and minders would retire and leave the detail to mere lawyers and policy advisers. Thus we would be left to do the real work while they held court with the Canberra press gallery and the staff of ambitious backbenchers seeking to extract information to sell to columnists or political masters. These “exclusive” stories would detail the lurid, scatological conversations of the “big men” and what passed for their stratagems in attracting the attention of cabinet members.

    In winter, we could pretend that the heating – set too high – did not work and in summer that the airconditioning – set too low – could not be changed. These were the tactics that women used to ensure positive and achievable outcomes and to avoid being bullied into enforced compromises and silence.

    We didn’t call it lateral violence, but we were trying to find ways to work around the limits of this world. For those of us in leadership positions, lateral violence took the form of verbal abuse, character assassination and innuendo.

    Lateral violence is the expression of anomie and rage against those who are also victims of vertical violence and entrenched and unequal power relations. Those most at risk of lateral violence in its raw physical form are family members and, in the main, the most vulnerable members of the family: old people, women and children. Especially the children.

    Lateral violence is not something unique to Aboriginal Australia. It blights other indigenous people as well, in North America, New Zealand and elsewhere. It is increasingly recognised for the harm it does. Lateral violence has many detrimental effects and leads to heightened levels of mental illness.

    Just as sudden – and indeed, constant – death results in a state of permanent grief in some communities, so too the constant bullying and “humbugging” result in a social malaise akin to grief. Mood swings and disorientation, fear and a poor level of response to ordinary events are typical of the low level but persistent post-traumatic stress disorder that manifests in these milieus of constant bullying, aggression and humiliation. Nurses working in remote communities have recognised this form of violence and it has been recognised as a key issue in their workplace health discussions.


  19. Matthew says:

    I’m going to regret getting involved in this, but I just listened to an episode of The Law Report from the ABC which did a fairly reasonable summary of what happened and the responses since. I was googling the subject to see if I could find a coroner’s report when I found this.

    The rioting was ridiculous. The police in the station were (quite reasonably) in fear of their lives, and (apparently) some even went so far as to take the opportunity to call their loved ones and suggest that they might not be seeing them again. These police were not involved in the death itself – they were outsiders brought in for that reason. Those police were armed, but they never used their weapons. One even left the building, alone and unarmed, and negotiated with the rioters. For that they received bravery awards, and I think that was the right decision.

    The rioting was also fed by misinformation – the authorities (be they who they may) did a woeful job of managing that situation. On the other hand, the rioters’ actions were pointless, stupid and self-indulgently childish, and they destroyed infrastructure that someone else had to pay for. They can’t expect a lot of sympathy for that.

    I can understand how the police officer involved got to walk – a criminal trial requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, and there is obviously reasonable doubt about the circumstances. The extent of the injuries are also obviously at odds with the original story (IMHO, it’s a load of malarky) but unless someone actually can produce a video of how they DID occur, it comes down to a balance of probabilities or outright opinion, and that’s not enough for a conviction. Anyone who thinks it should be any other way needs to have a long think about what that would mean in the general case.

    Meanwhile, al, I wonder if there’s anything at all that would cause you to admit that the cop involved maybe did something wrong. I’ve noticed that some people will twist time and space to excuse, deny or minimise the actions of someone they happen to sympathise with (but then lose all their logical faculties the moment the target is someone they don’t). I’m sure I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll give you a chance to admit you think the guy might have done wrong. I reckon he did. He brought the police force into disrepute (something Queensland police had to work hard to dig themselves out of in the first place). Remember, HE started it. He was probably provoked, but he crossed the line (in my opinion). An occupational hazard, maybe – but killing someone’s a pretty big blunder. I don’t reckon I could get away with that no matter how much I was wound up.

    As for stirring – it’s sort of reasonable to bring it up again, given the recent conviction of Wotton. Apparently the Wottons themselves want to just get past it. Lex isn’t appealing, he wants to do the time and move on. Meanwhile, the police can puzzle over why the standard approach doesn’t seem to work.

  20. Lumpen says:

    Matthew: context.

    To call their actions “pointless, stupid and self-indulgently childish” in the context of profound grief and an obvious cover-up is heartless at best. I would have thought the suicides in the wake of the events might be proof that the effects were deep. To suggest that these actions deserve to be held up to ridicule is obscene, no matter how many ABC reports you’ve listened to.

    You might need to consider that the week after Doomadgee’s killing was not an example of bad public relations, but an ineptitude in the attempted cover-up, led by Chris Hurley himself. The grief at the loss of a father and a friend was held in complete contempt with anger and violent action the understandable response. The officials were obviously relying on an unsympathetic public at large and a passive local population to achieve their results, and I am glad that they were proven wrong. It would be stupid not to be angry, not to mention more noteworthy than the loss of a building or the fear of police.

    What stands out in your comments for me is the attempt to be the voice of Reason. It’s the reliance on a narrative of dysfunction (just like Al) that forms part of the problem, especially when used to reduce the justified anger of men to child-like tantrums, with the cure suggested being the firm paternalistic hand – which is naturally dispassionate and just by virtue of the owner. The reduction of a murder and cover-up to a question of management is the kind of monstrosity only the Left is capable of sustaining. At least fascists will tell all who’ll listen that they hate you.

    Given the campaign they mounted, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the Wotton family and their supporters continue to feel a measure of justification, rather than resignation. A feeling that I hold in any case.

    So fuck you and your accusations of childishness and stupidity, Matthew. Fuck you.

  21. mike says:

    Is it possible that a murderer might lie about his property value to get some cash? Is it possible that promoting hurley is in poor taste?

    Minimum, I’d have preferred to see hurley ‘smeared’ with dishonourable discharge… or maybe someone just lead him down a set of stairs.

  22. falming bill says:

    The only miscarriage of justice in this case was the Queensland Government’s efforts in going against Due Proccess, Procedural Justice and Chris Hurley’s Natural Justice by putting him on trial despite the Director of Public Prosecution’s ruling not to charge Hurley.

  23. Ana says:

    What a load of bullshit, Wotton was done by the sate for refusing to let another Aboriginal Death in custody get covered up. No justice up there for the Mob thats for sure.

  24. @ndy says:

    Bang on the money Ana.

  25. Mark Struwe says:

    I have just started reading GONE FOR A SONG Death in Custody on Palm Island. I won the book, I didn’t buy it and I don’t have an axe to grind.
    I as many Australians can be very complacent about these happenings but I was appalled for may reasons. The death/killing of this poor bloke I believe was not the result of a fall. If this type of fall resulted in such injuries our hospital would be full of dead and dying from injuries received playing football and rugby.
    I don’t believe in taking the law into your own hands however if you and your family have no power to change things that are patently wrong what do you do?
    Read the book it will enlighten you.

  26. smithy says:

    I’ve just started reading “Tall Man” by Chloe Hooper. The most troubling aspect for me regarding Mr. Hurley’s story is why didn’t he phone an ambulance when he failed to rouse Mr. Doomadgee after the “fall”?

  27. Samual says:

    Stop making excuses and throwing blame around for the relative failure of [A]borigin[e]s on many fronts like unemployment, lack of education, crime etc.
    I like many of my peers, am not white, not born and brought up in a western country and have not had the numerous Govt. handouts that Australian born individuals receive for just being born in Australia.
    We moved here and on our OWN STEAM as adults, have worked, studied, stayed out of trouble etc and built what we consider pretty good lives for ourselves. If I can do it, I see no reason why Australian born persons black, white or rainbow coloured, who receive EVERYTHING on a platter can’t be educated, employed and sober (not drunk 24/7). Aborigin[e]s are weak because they let themselves be weak on so many fronts it[‘]s not funny.

  28. @ndy says:

    Cool story, bro.

  29. Billy says:

    It’s absolutely disgusting the treatment Aboriginal people receive from the Australian Government, especially in regards to the police and especially in Redneck QLD!

    Aborigines have always been subjected to colonial law but never protected by it!!

    It is a stain on our nation and will continue to get worse as long as the government continues to bury its head in the sand on these issues!!!

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  31. Andy Valle says:

    I’m a born and bred Queenslander with generations plus of my family here. How many of you bastards passing comment are Qlder’s? Would you know what the f… went on up here?

    Hurley has got to be a southern bastard… Most of THEM don’t like Indigenous and crawl up the arse of cops. Typical example of the comments here.

    Until you know the FULL story southern dickheads… BUTT OUT!!!

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