The Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) hosted a function in support of Palm Island man Lex Wotton on October 7. Wotton is being targeted by state authorities for his role in protesting the death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji at the hands of police in November 2004.
Four hundred people — more than 10% of Palm Island's population — took part in the protests when the news was revealed that Mulrunji had died in suspicious circumstances in police custody.
Authorities labeled the justified resistance on the island as a "riot", and accused Wotton of being "ringleader". At the Sydney forum, MUA officials Warren Smith and Paul McAleer called for all charges against Wotton to be dropped.
Smith pledged that the union would fund a bus to take supporters from Sydney to the trial in Queensland, scheduled to take place on April 7, 2008. The MUA also promised to raise support among maritime workers as part of an ongoing campaign in support of justice for Aboriginal people.