Various versions of justice in Queensland

On Wednesday I attended a rally outside the Brisbane District Court, held to show support for Palm Island man, Lex Wotton, whose trial had been going for two weeks. The jury started deliberating on the Thursday. When I saw news that they were still going on the Friday afternoon, I decided to go to the court to bear witness with Lex and his family and supporters as they faced the drawn out wait for the verdict. 

The jury’s verdict was a long time coming, but it was unanimous when it was finally delivered at around 9.45 pm – guilty on the single count of rioting with destruction.  I have written more on this over at Crikey, including links to many reports on the evidence presented at the trial.

I have met Lex Wotton many times over the last few years, on Palm Island and elsewhere. I have mentioned a few times in some of the pieces about Palm Island I have written on this blog. I believe Lex is a good man with leadership ability and its hard to see what good will come from his being sent to jail.

It was a total coincidence, but an apt one none the less, that on the same night as this version of Queensland justice was being played out, a book was being launched at the Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane’s West End about the use of Aboriginal child workers through the 19th and 20th centuries and the role it played in the economic development of Queensland. That version of Queensland justice was written by Dr Shirleene Robinson and is called “Something like slavery?”

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  1. He has been admitted since to hospital with what sounds like stress symproms, but released .. I hope he is OK, as apart from humanitarian concerns for Mr W, if he were to die during this process, goodness only knows how that will affect the Palm Island population. Apparently police admitting that they will lie to protect their own and a statement from one witness that she was pressured by police, including not having food provided while she was held before giving a statement cast no doubt on the prosecution evidence, while evidence from other workers on the Island (non-rioters, in other words) that Wotton had tried to calm things down was disregarded. Now that I have no family there, I’ll revert to my original position since the 70s of staying away from Queensland. You can be fitted up in Queensland if the police take objection to you and nothing can be done to stop the police juggernaut. Particularly if you are the wrong colour.

  2. I’m wondering why someone has to wait 4 years for a trial. It’s a bit ridiculous.

    It will be interesting to see what sort of sentence Lex Wotton gets.

    Wayne Carey recently got off without a criminal conviction being recorded against him, after assaulting police officers in the USA.

    He has previously been charged at least twice in Australia for similar behaviour, with similar outcomes. I think money has talked his way out of trouble too many times.

    I think it’s necessary to take a look at the other side of the coin where police are concerned. A good deal of the time, valid evidence and the jury’s decision are cast aside, with criminals getting off almost scot free.

    I’m also still wondering why the world’s financial engineers have not been put behind bars.

  3. Good on you Andrew for showing support to Lex and his family. It says a lot about the justice system in Qld, where the police officer concerned was found to have caused the death but didn’t have to face criminal charges, received compensation for his stress and trauma, and yet Lex Wotten has been found guilty of a criminal offence. ‘It’s a rich (white) man’s country yet’ as Henry Lawson would say! The family of the man who died in police custody didn’t get a cent? No contribution to the funeral even, as far as I know.It wasn’t until I watched ‘Where did you come from’ on SBS about Cathy Freeman, that I found out that Palm Island was ‘created’ as a ‘penal colony’ for aboriginal ‘trouble makers’? Her grandfather or great grandfather was sent there, not because he committed a crime, but he refused to comply with a directive that he didn’t even have to obey? They had to get him away from others, as he could be a ‘bad’ influence on them. Her parents had to get permission to visit their parents one Christmas, and were denied it. Another great? grandfather who fought in WW1 which left him with a lot of health problems was only allowed to go to a pub on Anzac Day, and his wife wasn’t paid like the other wives, even though she had kids to provide for, because they were not deemed capable of handling money. They obviously didn’t need food or clothing either? In fact, aboriginal people are still ignored on Anzac Day, (although this year a monument was unveiled at Redfern, NSW)and there should be more mention of the role played by those at home.. They played a vital role as ‘look outs’ in the Top End.

    There was a similar situation at Redfern (like Palm Island) where a young aboriginal boy was impaled on a fence while (allegedly)being persued by police in a wagon. They denied it, but there’s too many questions that haven’t been answered. He was only 13. His family didn’t receive justice either! Shameful behaviour!

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