After a decade when we have in important respects gone backwards in the highly important symbolic issues concerning Indigenous Australia, it is wonderful to see Sir Laurence Street capping his distinguished career with this decision on the Palm Island matter. (See ABC News.)
The decision to charge a Queensland police officer over a death in custody has been described as one of the most significant events in the last 200 years of Aboriginal history.
Former New South Wales chief justice Sir Laurence Street has recommended Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley be prosecuted for the manslaughter of Palm Island man Mulrunji in 2004.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Leanne Clare, has been criticised for her ruling last year that there was not enough evidence to press charges.
The State Member for Townsville, Mike Reynolds, says it is an historic decision.
Mr Reynolds says he has spoken to many people on Palm Island who feel they have been vindicated by the decision to have the case heard before a court.
“Everyone is saying that this is one of the most important days in the 219 years in regard to justice for Indigenous people,” he said.
The Palm Island community celebrated into the night and Mulrunji’s friends say they are looking forward to having their day in court.
Family friend David Bulsey says the focus now is getting a fair trial…
It would be totally improper to preempt what such a trial might find, but I think the Queensland Police Union needs to do some soul searching nonetheless.