A major victory has been won by the Aboriginal movement in Australia. The Queensland attorney-general’s department has decided that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley will be charged with manslaughter over the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee. Mulrunji, an Aboriginal man, died in police custody on Palm Island in 2004.
On January 18, the Australian ran a story on a leaked report commissioned by the Peter Beattie Labor state government on the shocking living conditions for Aborigines in Queensland (see accompanying article). Green Left Weekly asked Sam Watson, Murri leader and member of the Socialist Alliance, about this and the ongoing struggle for justice for Indigenous people in Australia.
Last September, Queensland’s acting state coroner Christine Clements ruled that Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley, a police officer working on the Palm Island Aboriginal community, had caused the death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji while in his custody
Government and business representatives attending a Work Choices seminar at the Hotel Grand Chancellor on November 21 were met by protesters who described the meeting as a discussion about exploiting workers, destroying unions and sacking people at will.
Australian unionists have a wealth of experiences to draw on in the fight against the Howard governments Work Choices legislation. Lessons can be drawn not just from the historic victories and defeats of the union movement in this country, but also from the experiences of working-class struggles in other countries.
For Margarita Windisch, an anti-war leader and one of the organisers of the G20 protests in Melbourne, the “Hey, vote for us! We’ll sort it all out!” attitude of the two major parties is not only condescending, it is increasingly falling on deaf ears. This is because the major parties have not, and cannot, “sort it” to meet people’s needs, she said.
Queensland Murris (Indigenous Australians) and their supporters marched on the state parliament on October 10. In a protest called to coincide with the first sitting day of the newly elected Labor government, the 600 demonstrators confronted Premier Peter Beattie with the demand that senior sergeant Chris Hurley be sacked.
The report handed down by Queensland deputy coroner Christine Clements on September 27 found that Palm Islander Mulrunji not only died in police custody on November 19, 2004, but died at the hands of the arresting police officer.
Australia has the most concentrated media ownership in the Western world. Nonetheless, the new media bill passed by the Senate on October 12 will further relax ownership regulation and allow the media barons to operate in two out of three media sectors print, radio and television.
In a damning report released on September 27, Queenslands acting state coroner, Christine Clements, has criticised the initial investigation into the 2004 Palm Island death in custody of Mulrunji, saying that it failed to meet appropriate guidelines. Clements also found that Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley caused Mulrunjis death and accused the police of failing to investigate his death fully.