Breach of trust felt by every citizen



THE systematic demolition by Coroner Brian Hine of police evidence to his inquest into the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee is a sad commentary on justice in Queensland.
Any reasonable understanding of the evidence given at the many hearings into Doomadgee's death comes to the inevitable conclusion that most of the police involved were concerned only with covering for themselves and for their mate, Chris Hurley.
Mr Hine said as much.
The sadness attending yesterday's revelations embraces not only the family of Doomadgee and the Aboriginal people of Palm island generally, but also the breach of trust by the police.
Queenslanders have every reason to expect that sworn officers will act without fear or favour in upholding the law.
That is not what happened in regard to Doomadgee.
What was demonstrated was not the courage and honesty expected of them, but lying, cowardly behaviour.
No matter how much loyalty one has to colleagues, surely anyone with a modicum of humanity would recognise that, in a case where an innocent man has lost his life, the least that can be offered is the truth.
Hine's findings that Hurley assaulted Doomadgee and then lied about it give rise to the question of whether he has committed perjury.
Under normal circumstances, that would be an investigation left to senior police. But there is scant expectation that untainted justice will suddenly be demonstrated.
It has taken six years and cost taxpayers millions of dollars to arrive at the conclusion that Hurley assaulted his prisoner and that his actions, whether accidental or on purpose, contributed to the man's death.
If Hurley had admitted at the start all the facts as he knew them, perhaps it would not have been necessary for his colleagues to think they had to protect him.
The police involved in this incident have forfeited their right to enjoy the trust of the public and should quit. Alternatively, Commissioner Bob Atkinson, who has unfailingly backed his disgraced officers from day one, should sack them.