Premier faces bribery probe over Palm Island

Issue 

BRISBANE — The controversy over the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee in police custody last November has deepened, with Queensland Premier Peter Beattie facing an investigation by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) over alleged bribery involving the Palm Island Aboriginal Council.

Beattie insisted on visiting the island on February 17 to open a new $5.5 million Police Citizens Youth Centre, despite council pleas that it showed a "lack of respect" to open a police centre while the mourning period for Mulrunji was still being observed by the family and the community.

During a meeting with the council, Beattie allegedly said, "Look, if we go up there together and open the centre today, the [$800,000 longstanding] debt will be cleared." This alleged offer to bribe the council members has now been referred to the CMC.

Palm Island councillors were outraged by the premier's offer. Councillor Magdalena Blackley said: "I just want to make sure that we all understand that respect is very important to this community. And we didn't go up there [to the police centre] for that reason."

In the washup, Beattie has attacked the council as "dysfunctional", and threatened them with the sack. He condemned the council's legal advisors, including well-known Brisbane lawyer Andrew Boe, as "leeches".

Meanwhile, the coroner's inquest into the death of Doomadgee commenced on February 28. A petition to Governor-General Michael Jeffery calling for a royal commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Doomadgee, including the conduct of Queensland police, has been signed by hundreds of members of the Palm Island community.

Bill Mason

From Green Left Weekly, March 2, 2005.
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