Monday, May 30, 2011

Qld. Police investigation unchanged by report

Premier Anna Bligh is not serious about police corruption and misbehaviour

THE case for reform of the Queensland Police Service's internal complaints and disciplinary system could not have been better put than by one of its own. After a series of high-profile scandals about police investigating police, a veteran sergeant laid bare a fix to breaking the culture of protecting their own within the 10,000-strong service.

Interviewed by a government-ordered review panel into a system increasingly under attack, the frustrated officer aired the views of many in uniform.

"We should have learned our lessons from [the Palm Island experience] about police investigating police and allegations of bias, but we haven't," he told the panel of independent experts, under a condition of anonymity.

"Continually allowing police who have close relationships with each other to investigate each other does nothing for maintaining professionalism and will no doubt be heavily scrutinised down the track if files are not investigated to the satisfaction of [others in the system]".

But they didn't listen. Despite the panel this week handing down a damning report with 57 recommendations for reform, police will continue to investigate police.

The failure of the panel to proffer alternate models, including the establishment of a police ombudsman, is in stark contrast to the worrying findings of its report. It concludes the police's internal complaints and disciplinary procedures are "dysfunctional and unsustainable".

"Complaints and police are subjected to a complex, administratively burdensome, overly legalistic and adversarial process that is dishonoured by chronic delays, inconsistent and disproportionate outcomes," the 160-page report says.

The main catalyst for the review was the discredited investigation into the 2004 death in custody of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee.

Last year, the Crime and Misconduct Commission recommended disciplinary charges against six officers involved in the investigations, which were later rejected by Queensland Police.

Instead, four officers who led the initial investigation - described by deputy coroner Christine Clements as lacking "transparency, objectivity and independence" - underwent "managerial guidance" along with two senior officers who later reviewed and endorsed their probe. In the Doomadgee case and several others senior police have laid some of the blame for these investigations on the CMC.

They argue the anti-corruption watchdog, or even a new police oversight agency, should take on much more, if not all, investigations into police for no other reason than removing a perception of bias and giving the public some sense of independence. It is a fair cop. Despite a 350-strong staff, and $40 million budget, the CMC in 2009-10 investigated fewer than 2 per cent of the approximately 3500 complaints against police.

The CMC cases usually involve allegations of official misconduct warranting criminal charges or the officer's dismissal. All other complaints are automatically referred to the Queensland Police for investigation.

And many of those complaints are handed to police in the same station where the officer under investigation works. "This is where police who know each other, and may work together, investigate the other. This scenario presents an inherent conflict for objective impartial investigations, and outcomes," the report says.

The report says some police overcooked their investigations out of fear of being criticised, building huge files as they looked "down every rabbit hole", even for less serious complaints.

The practice of police investigating police was brought about by former premier Peter Beattie who, in January 2002 introduced legislation amalgamating the then Criminal Justice Commission and the Crime Commission to form the CMC.

It followed an earlier trial conducted by the CJC and police to hand over minor complaints to police as part of a "capacity building" drive across the public service to handle its own problems and, in doing so, enhance integrity.

At the time, Beattie told parliament: "In recognition of reform within the police service since the Fitzgerald inquiry [1987], the bill returns responsibility to police for investigating and dealing with police misconduct."

The amendments were also intended to free the CMC's caseload and quicken the pace of investigations.

It didn't happen. "Excessive time frames for resolution of matters continue to undermine achievement of an efficient, effective and economic system in which stakeholders and the wider community can have confidence," the report says.

After the release of the report, Anna Bligh conceded the disciplinary and complaints system needed reform to restore public confidence.

The report is open for public consultation for the next six weeks. The government's response is expected several months later. Queensland Police have not commented.

And while the panel looked at other models, including an ombudsman to handle police complaints, there is little movement in addressing the issue of police investigating police, which has undermined the system in the eyes of the public.

Instead, among the 57 recommendations the panel seeks to remove police investigators in only the most serious cases, those now handled by the CMC.

Under the reform, officers seconded to the CMC will be banned from investigating, with cases led by private investigators or interstate police brought in to the watchdog.

Terry O'Gorman, president of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, says the report shows the government is not serious about tackling the "crisis of confidence" in Queensland Police.

O'Gorman says the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity provide models for recruiting outside investigators to probe complaints against Queensland's police.

" More than 90 per cent of complaints are automatically referred back to police, with some officers investigating police in their own station, who they socialise with," he says. "It is a backward step; it is not credible.

"Outside police are necessary because of the perception and, sometimes the reality of police investigating police leads to a whitewash."


Saturday, May 28, 2011


Press release:

Queensland Party candidate for Toowoomba North and former ALP MP Peter Pyke today undertook that Queensland police commissioner Bob Atkinson would be sacked on the spot if the Queensland Party gains enough MPs to control balance of power in the Queensland Parliament in the next state election.

Pyke, a former Queensland police sergeant himself who figured in the Fitzgerald inquiry, is expected to become a spokesperson for a senior portfolio when these positions are announced by Queensland Party Leader, Aidan McLindon MP for Beaudesert, commencing next week.

Pyke has been prominent over the past three years targeting Atkinson’s leadership, stridently demanding that the commissioner and both deputies be sacked. Controversial deputy commissioner Kathy Rynders has since retired after what many see as a dummy spit when Atkinson’s contract was surprisingly renewed ahead of time under eyebrow-raising circumstances following rumours of messy high jinks between Rynders and Bligh Government Minister Karen Struthers.

The Queensland Party’s Toowoomba North candidate says Atkinson is a disgraced political puppet who has distinguished himself by allowing the police union to run the Service at critical times while backing up the union in its adamant stance that no Queensland police officer ever does anything wrong.

“Under Atkinson’s failed leadership, we’ve had the Palm Island death in custody cover-up with not one cop involved charged with anything, we’ve had Queenslanders and our tourist guests bashed all over the state with secret payouts to many when thug coppers’ violence was captured by their own CCTV, for Cripe’s sake!” Pyke says. “We’ve had the Taser debacle which continues to play out and we now get to watch as the CMC and QPS do a wink and a nod as Gold Coast police corruption is smoothed over with the sacrifice of just a few low-level players,” Pyke says.

Pyke says the QPS now suffers substantial morale problems, lags other comparable services technologically and should have been equipped with rotary-winged aircraft a decade ago.

“Commissioner Atkinson's record is pathetic - he wouldn’t make a commissioner’s bootlace!” Pyke says. "My message to him for the past three years has been ‘don’t come Monday’. If Victoria thinks it's got problems with Simon Overland – and they have - they are not alone."

Pyke is understood to have expressed a viewpoint to the Queensland Party about being appointed the Party’s police spokesperson.

Pyke says the Queensland Party will replace Atkinson with a successful and effective police director who will be more than just a successful detective with nothing else going for him. He’d also like to see a Police Board.

“What do detectives know about running a modern police service?” Pyke asks. “I’d put them all back into uniform unless they were on an operation. Just like Royal Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald QC recommended 20 years ago.”

Pyke says he’d also like to see Queensland’s crop of fat cops put on the beat until they trimmed down.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Police culture must change, warns CMC chairman

THE chief of Queensland's crime watchdog has warned it could take generations to change the state's police culture. The comments by Crime and Misconduct Commission chairman Martin Moynihan came as an independent review found the police complaints system was dysfunctional, unsustainable, plagued by chronic delays and urgently in need of a major overhaul.

Mr Moynihan said "no tolerance" change must come from the top but admitted it would not be easy. "(Police) do a difficult job and are often in a dangerous environment so you have to depend on one another (and) you build a culture that supports that," he said. "In a sense, that's not going to go away, but . . . if they address (discipline) in different ways, it'll be easier for them and they'll get better acceptance."

The scathing report, sparked by the 2004 Palm Island death in custody case and tabled in State Parliament, has recommended 57 changes to the beleaguered discipline and misconduct system.

It called for officers seconded to the Crime and Misconduct Commission to be banned from investigating their own, a practice that has been publicly condemned and instead using private investigators or interstate police.

But former high-ranking government bureaucrat Simone Webbe, who co-wrote the report, insisted the recommendation did not question officers' integrity but addressed negative public perceptions.

She also recommended additional powers for the CMC to challenge disciplinary decisions handed out by police, along with the right to refer cases deemed too lenient to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for review.

The State Government has supported the findings in principle and will form a solid position after public consultation closes in July.

The Queensland Police Union slammed the report as an ineffective instrument of reform that gave the CMC too much power. "It now gives the CMC the opportunity to be judge, jury and executioner if they do not agree with a decision made by the police service discipline system," QPU president Ian Leavers said.

The CMC has aimed to hand cases back to the police in a bid to boost the force's capacity to internally deal with allegations, but the report found the "devolution" policy meant complaints were referred down chains of command even "to the same station for investigation". "This is where police who know each other, and may work together, investigate the other. This scenario presents an inherent conflict for objective impartial investigations," it stated.

Often investigators then "overcooked" their inquiries for fear of being criticised or subjected to a misconduct probe themselves, amassing thousands of pages of evidence as they went "down every rabbit hole", even for less serious complaints. This created a "major chokepoint" in the system, the report found, with some cases in limbo as much as three years. It recommended seven months be the limit for serious cases and 28 days for lower-level allegations.

Police Minister Neil Roberts yesterday told The Courier-Mail "significant change" was needed but insisted the contentious practice of police investigating their own was legitimate. "I believe that there is a need for all organisations to be held accountable for identifying, detecting and dealing with its own," he said.

Yesterday's report also raised serious concerns about the dysfunctional information technology system, first earmarked for urgent upgrade a decade ago. A replacement system was planned under the phase three of the controversial QPRIME intranet rollout but that phase was scrapped.

The QPS said it would consider the report before making a submission.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sir Joh's Police Whitewash Tribunal is back

'Dysfunctional' Qld. police complaints system slammed in independent review

An independent review has found the Queensland Police Service complaints system is "dysfunctional and unsustainable". Premier Anna Bligh this morning tabled the report by independent experts, which recommends a new management system to deal with complaints and disciplinary matters.

She told State Parliament at Mackay the report “describes a system much in need of reform”. It states: “Complainants and police are subjected to a complex, administratively burdensome, overly legalistic and adversarial process that is dishonoured by chronic delays, inconsistent and disproportionate outcomes.”

The report outlines 57 recommendations, including that police officers no longer be able to investigate serious police misconduct at the CMC, instead using investigators from other states.

Timeframes for reporting on complaints would also be limited to seven months for more serious complaints and 28 days for minor complaints.

Ms Bligh said some cases had been investigated for up to three years “and that is unacceptable”.

Queensland cop suspended over motorbike incident

A QUEENSLAND cop who raced away from NSW police when they tried to pull him over while he was riding his motorbike has been stood down. It is believed the incident involving the 42-year-old constable happened in 2009 and that he subsequently lied to investigators about the matter.

The officer is from the south east police region, which takes in the Gold Coast, Logan and Coomera.

It is another blow to the reputation of Queensland police, coming just three days after another officer was stood down.

Last Saturday, a constable from the north coast region was suspended for allegedly committing a domestic violence offence whilst off duty.

"No further details are able to be released at this time as his alleged actions are currently subject to an ongoing internal disciplinary investigation," a QPS statement read.

Both officers can appeal the decisions but neither has the backing of the Queensland Police Union which was criticised earlier this year for routinely defending "indefensible" actions by some officers.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Qld. State Government settles out of court with woman sexually assaulted in watch-house by two police officers

Scum Buxton above

THE victim of a watch-house sexual assault by two disgraced former Maroochydoore police officers has won a damages payout from the State Government on the eve of a Supreme Court lawsuit hearing. Cindy Felsman, 32, sued the state after she was assaulted by rogue officers Peter Anthony Buxton and Zane Anthony Slingsby in the Maroochdyoore watch-house in 2005.

In 2007, Buxton was sentenced to six years' jail after pleading guilty to 24 charges of sexually assaulting women prisoners. Slingsby was sentenced to four years jail' on 10 charges, suspended after serving two years, for his role in abusing female inmates.

Ms Felsman's damages claim was to be heard in the Brisbane Supreme Court in a two-day hearing starting on Monday. However, the state today agreed to a confidential out-of-court settlement.

Ms Felsman said she was happy with the outcome and could now move on with her life. "I am also relieved I did not have to relive the details of my ordeal in open court," she said.

Ms Felsman's lawyer, Greg Smith of Smiths Lawyers, said the settlement would allow his client and her family to rebuild their lives after suffering years of trauma. "It was an appalling matter involving police in positions of power taking advantage of Cindy and other women who, while incarcerated, should never have been subjected to such atrocities," he said.

"The settlement also acknowledges the responsibility governments must take over those under their charge, especially when they are employed in positions of trust relating to public welfare and law enforcement."


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stupid and oppressive Queensland cops again

What was gained by any of this? The Qld cops have no time to follow up car theft but time for this nonsense!

We've all seen it happen on TV a zillion times. But when a police officer recited to me those well-rehearsed words – 'you have the right to remain silent … ' – I felt sick in the stomach.

The conversation with the two officers had started off in a friendly enough manner. I was in a session at the AusCERT security conference on the Gold Coast when I received a call from Detective Senior Constable Errol Coultis.

I thought he was from the Queensland Police media unit to begin with, but it soon became clear he was an officer who wanted to question me over a story I had written regarding a security expert's demonstration of vulnerabilities on social media sites such as Facebook.

The expert, Christian Heinrich, had delivered a slideshow presentation on Sunday to about 20 people showing how he had been able to gain access to the Facebook photos of the wife of a rival security expert, without a username or password. I hadn't been able to attend the presentation, but he went through it personally with me straight afterwards.

I thought it made a great story – a flaw in the system that meant not everything you uploaded to social networks was secure, even if placed behind a privacy-protected profile – and the yarn was published on Fairfax's news sites yesterday.

Hours later, Coultis's phone call came completely out of the blue. I walked out of the session and met him and his female offsider about 4.15pm, and, at my request, we went into a meeting room to discuss the matter in private.

They told me they were recording the conversation. I had my wits about me enough to ask if I could also record the conversation; Coultis agreed and so I pressed record on my iPhone.

For about half an hour I stood in this room – its only adornment dozens of green chairs stacked against one wall – and co-operated with what Coultis and his colleague described simply as "questioning" over the incident. I was reassured when he said he had no intention of arresting me and I agreed to help with his inquiries. Neither of them wore police uniforms – their casual clothes, including Coultis's AusCERT-branded T-shirt, comforted me further.

The officers were polite and there was even an amusing interlude when the female officer's iPhone rang, disrupting her recording of our conversations, and I gave Coultis some advice about how to set the iPhone to avoid further interruptions.

They seemed to treat me like a technical expert, and sought my explanation of what Heinrich had done. I felt like they were trying to get me to admit that his actions were illegal. I told them it was not my job to decide that – after all, I was only reporting on the matter. It's their job to decide whether what he demonstrated was against the law.

About half an hour into the questioning, Coultis left the room to liaise briefly with other officers. When he returned, he said: "What we're going to have to do, I'm afraid, Ben, is we're going to be taking possession of your iPad."

Now, anyone who knows me knows that my iPad and I are inseparable. As a technology reporter and a 20-year-old who has lived and breathed gadgets, my life is played out in tweets and Facebook posts. This device had become the centrepiece of my life – it's integral to my work because it's where I keep notes about stories, but it's also the digital tool I use to run my social and personal life.

When I questioned under what legislation they had the right to seize my iPad, Coultis told me I was under arrest in relation to receiving unlawfully obtained property.

What? What I had thought had been a simple case of answering some police questions had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. I felt as if I had been double-crossed. It seemed ridiculous that I, as the "messenger" who reported on what the police were now saying was a criminal matter, could now be the target.

Feeling shaken but with the adrenalin pumping, I phoned my boss and tried to contact lawyers. It was another one of those odd TV moments, when you're given the right to make a phone call. I did that, but being a Gen Y, I also tweeted the fact to my 5000 Twitter followers that I had been arrested.

Another hour of talking ensued, but now I was under instruction from my lawyers to keep my mouth shut. The officers spent much of the time on the phone to my boss and the lawyers, explaining why I was being held and what charges might be laid. At one point, they mentioned that I could be held legally for up to eight hours.

Throughout this, my phone did not stop ringing and buzzing as the Twitterverse took up my case. Hundreds of tweets were directed my way and to the Queensland Police media unit, questioning why a journalist had been arrested and sending me messages of support. At one point, when Coultis accompanied me to the toilet because I desperately needed to go, I showed him the responses.

Shortly before 6pm, I was given a receipt for my iPad and Coultis told me that I was "un-arrested". I was free to go, but, to the best of my knowledge, my iPad remains at an exhibits facility in Brisbane. I was told that forensics officers were going to make a complete copy of the information on my iPad, whether it related to this matter or not.

I feel like I have been unfairly targeted. Journalists must be able to report what they observe – that's what they've been doing for ages and so to see this kind of policing occurring is very alarming.

I believed that, as a journalist, I had protections. But it seems not. And to lose a device that contains not only private but work-related information is also another seriously alarming development for a journalist.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Missing cop Mick Isles's son says police were 'vultures'

THE son of a missing police officer choked back tears as he remembered his "best mate" in the Brisbane Coroner's Court. Steven Isles spoke on behalf of the family of Senior-Sergeant Mick Isles, 58, who vanished on September 23, 2009.

"My father was my best mate and it really was a disgrace to see such a display," he said of Queensland Police's investigation into his dad's disappearance.

He claimed Queensland Police had victimised his family and behaved like "absolute vultures".

A pre-inquest hearing heard the former officer-in-charge at Ayr had been scheduled to attend a training course in Townsville on the day he was missing, but failed to show up. The unmarked police car he'd been driving was later found in a dry creek bed, 80km south-west of Ayr. He hasn't been seen since.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Peter Johns, said the police officer's absence at the course did not raise concerns until his wife, Fiona, contacted police later that day. He said Mrs Isles also found notes expressing regret from her husband, but none which made any reference to suicide.

A gold prospector south-west of Ayr is expected to give evidence at his inquest, and is believed to be the last person to have seen him alive.

The court heard Sen-Sgt Isles had been under a great deal of stress due to a Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation, for which he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mr Johns said Sen-Sgt Isles returned to work after being on sick leave, and said the inquest would examine the appropriateness of his rehabilitation plan. He said there was evidence the missing policeman had an "intense dislike" for one of his superiors, and considered him responsible for the treatment he'd received from the CMC.

A police uniform, a police swipe card, cash, a shotgun and ammunition were found in the vehicle, but a search of the area failed to find any trace of the father-of-three.

Mr Johns said the inquest would aim to determine whether Sen-Sgt Isles was deceased, and would examine the delay in reporting him missing and the adequacy of the search to find him. A survival expert is also due to give evidence to help State Coroner Michael Barnes make his findings.

The Isles family is not legally represented, but Sen-Sgt Isles' son Steven spoke on their behalf, accusing the police service of being a "boy's club" that had conducted a "deficient" and "biased" investigation into his father's disappearance.

Mr Barnes agreed to conduct the inquest in Brisbane at the family's request, and adjourned the hearing to a date to be fixed.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thug traffic police boss keeps his job after exceeding speed limit by 100km/h during an unauthorised chase

Gets a small fine only

A SENIOR traffic officer who drove at more than 100km/h over the speed limit in an unauthorised chase of a speeding motorcyclist in 2009 will hang on to his job as boss of the Pine Rivers traffic branch.

Senior Sergeant Bryan Eaton has escaped a significant sanction after the Crime and Misconduct Commission appealed a police service-imposed penalty as too lenient, and sought his dismissal.

The officer was originally given just a single-pay point deduction for a year by the QPS despite Assistant Commissioner Ross Barnett finding his conduct "endangered the safety of other road users".

"The risks posed by misconduct to yourself and other road users are unacceptable and contrary to the Safe Driving Policy," Mr Barnett found. "Further, the subsequent high speed pursuit of the motorcyclist was unjustified and contrary to the pursuit policy."

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard that on August 22, 2009, Sen-Sgt Eaton pursued a motorcycle at Burpengary at a speed of 225km/h in a 100km/h zone, and between 150 and 160km/h in a 60km/h zone. The chase was considered unauthorised and Sen-Sgt Eaton failed to activate lights and sirens as is the police pursuit policy.

The CMC sought to introduce new evidence to the matter, relating to Sen-Sgt Eaton's involvement in a police chase at Coen in far north Queensland in 2003 which resulted in the deaths of two men. Although a Coronial inquest into the deaths did not recommend charges against Sen-Sgt Eaton, his driving did attract significant criticism from the Coroner.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal senior member James Thomas accepted the evidence on a restricted basis, finding a "more severe" sanction needed to be imposed. He ordered a two-pay point reduction over nine months, amounting to a fine of about $1900.

"Chases of this kind put the public at risk and at regular intervals cause extreme distress from collateral damage," Mr Thomas said. "It is important that this policy, designed to enhance relations between the police and the public, be observed, especially by its senior officers."


Previous post here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Justice denied on Palm Island

Frank Brennan SJ

ON Monday I was in Townsville, talking to people about the latest saga in the police cover-up of the death of Mulrunji Cameron Doomadgee, the Aboriginal resident of Palm Island who never emerged alive from the police station after Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley fell on him in November 2004.

The Aboriginal community has had to endure three separate coronial inquiries; a decision by the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute; the reversal of that decision on advice from Laurence Street, who said, "A jury could well find that the only rational inference that can be drawn as to the fatal injury is that it was inflicted by Hurley deliberately kneeing Mulrunji in the upper abdominal area"; the trial of Hurley, who was acquitted, with his barrister telling the jury Hurley was the "instrument of another young man dying and that is a cross he will carry for the rest of his life"; a detailed hearing before the Crime and Misconduct Commission that recommended "consideration be given to commencing disciplinary proceedings for misconduct" against six named police officers; a Supreme Court case denying the Queensland police commissioner the right to conduct the disciplinary proceedings on the grounds of apprehended bias; and now a decision by the deputy police commissioner that there is no need for any disciplinary action against any Queensland police officer.

All is well again in the state of Queensland. Or at least it is back to business as usual in Aboriginal-police relations.

The public is well familiar with the fact the investigating police officers were treated to a barbecue at Hurley's residence on arrival on Palm Island before they began the inquiry into the death caused by Hurley. The barbecue was just the beginning of the chummy police cover-up of their own negligence and dishonesty. Here is one of the CMC's observations about the extraordinary behaviour of Detective Senior Sergeant Raymond Kitching, Detective Inspector Warren Webber and Inspector Mark Williams: Kitching "agreed that he only offered to pathologists information that he considered reliable and relevant".

This seems in stark contradiction to his inclusion on the Form 1 of hearsay evidence about Doomadgee drinking bleach and his exclusion not only of Roy Bramwell's evidence but also of Penny Sibley's allegation of assault (the credibility of which had not been questioned).

In effect, Kitching seems to have informed the pathologist of information adverse to Doomadgee but excluded allegations adverse to Hurley." The pathologist, Guy Lampe, had been told by police that Doomadgee had swallowed bleach (he had not) but not that he had been assaulted (he had). The CMC said the police officers who conducted the internal review of this behaviour "appear to be simply providing reasons to justify Kitching's failure to make this information available to the pathologist, and Webber's and Williams' failure to check the Form 1".

The CMC, chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Martin Moynihan, concluded: "The investigation into the death of Mulrunji was seriously flawed, its integrity gravely compromised in the eyes of the very community it was meant to serve. The way in which the investigation was conducted destroyed the Palm Island community's confidence that there would be an impartial investigation of the death."

Last month, Queensland police deputy commissioner Kathy Rynders published a 410-page report finding that no officers needed be disciplined. She makes these observations about Kitching's Form 1 report: "I consider Kitching's failure to inform Dr Lampe of the assault allegations (whether reliable or not) a significant departure from service requirement and in the circumstance would warrant the commencement of disciplinary action. I note that Kitching included unconfirmed information concerning Mulrunji taking bleach. Similarly, he should have included information of the alleged assault made by Bramwell and Florence Sibley."

However, she says, "I do not consider Kitching's failure to inform Dr Lampe of the assaults constituted misconduct. However, for reasons already outlined and Kitching's acceptance that the allegations of assault should have been brought to the attention of Dr Lampe, it is not my intention to commence disciplinary action, but to provide managerial guidance."

Overall, she agrees with the CMC that there had been "failings in the initial investigation" but concludes that all her boys need is "managerial guidance". She thinks the serious flaws highlighted by the CMC relate only to matters "incidental to the investigation".

In her report, she writes, "The actions of the officers must be viewed objectively, not with the benefit of hindsight."

Addressing the Palm Island community's perception of the police misconduct, she observes, "There continues to be strong feelings amongst many in the community. The danger, however, is that strong feelings tend to cloud sound judgment. "

She concludes: "The evidence simply does not support action for misconduct or official misconduct."

Moynihan describes this decision by Rynders as "almost incomprehensible".

Three years ago, Mike Reynolds, who had been the long-time mayor of Townsville before becoming a government minister and then speaker of the parliament, called for a royal commission into the matter, saying, "This case has become so convoluted and tainted that I now believe truth and justice can only be obtained by a wide-ranging royal commission headed by an eminent jurist."

On Monday Reynolds repeated that call, telling me there was no other way for Queenslanders to put this matter behind them.

After the jury acquitted Hurley in September 2007, Aboriginal leader Gracelyn Smallwood said: "This has not ended the way we wanted it to, but it has been a win on our slow climb up the Everest of justice." On Monday she told me, "People are just so tired and drained. We have lost hope in the Queensland justice system. We've stopped climbing."

The Everest of justice is still well beyond the reach of Queensland Aborigines who happen to get in the way of the Queensland police, who remain a law unto themselves. Three years ago Premier Anna Bligh dismissed out of hand Reynolds's call for a royal commission. She was confident that the legal processes would produce a transparent, just result. We are now at the end of the legal process. The Bligh government needs to listen again to responsible citizens such as Reynolds and Smallwood. There must be a royal commission.