Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers. File picture
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers. File picture

Union’s Palm response: ‘Nothing to apologise for’

THE Queensland Police Union leadership has issued a statement to its membership insisting they have nothing to apologise for over the 2004 Palm Island riots as Palaszczuk Government today made good on its public apology.

The Government's apology was published in Queensland newspapers including The Courier-Mail today following a court ruling in the landmark racial discrimination case brought by the Palm Island community against the State over the actions of police during the riots.

"The Queensland Government expresses its sincere and profound apology to all the present and former residents of Palm Island who suffered as a result of the actions of any of its employee, servants or agents during the events which occurred between 19 and 29 November 2004 following the death of Mulrunjji in police custody," the apology reads.

"All Queenslanders, irrespective of which community they live in, are entitled to expect equal treatment under the law.

"The people of Palm Island were entitled to expect that; they were entitled to equal respect and to be treated with the same dignity as any other Queenslander.

"We acknowledge that the Government of the day failed to ensure this equality."

The QPU had earlier slammed the court's finding that the conduct of certain police officers during the riots were unlawful and contravened the Racial Discrimination Act.

In a statement to members sent last night, the union's leadership and executive again defended police.

"In the opinion of Queensland's police we have nothing to apologise for and it is the police who are owed the apology," the statement, signed by QPU president Ian Leavers, general secretary Mick Barnes and acting assistant general secretary Shayne Maxwell, said.

"We firmly believe the apology settled by the court should go both ways.

"During the period defined in the apology settled in court, much suffering was also wrought upon those police on Palm Island by locals.

"Some of these criminal, heinous and illegal acts were confirmed by the courts and offenders were appropriately convicted and sentenced to prison."

The statement references the bravery awards handed to police following the riots.

"We reject the suggestion that police acted illegally and the fact they received bravery awards for their actions demonstrates that they actually acted with courage," it reads.

"The trauma many of these police suffered continues to this day.

"The implications of this matter are quite profound and far reaching. Police stationed in indigenous communities do a terrific job and are often selfless in their devotion to their role. We finish by saying we should not rewrite history and we believe we have nothing to apologise for."

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath this morning also issued a statement in which she said she hoped the apology would do some good.

"The settlement scheme and apology have now been formally approved by the Federal Court, and the apology published today in the Palm Island Voice, Townsville Bulletin, and The Courier-Mail," she said.

"We all hope this provides some closure for the Palm Island community and that we can move forward together."

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