This story is from AAP

Palm Island replacement tipped this week

QUEENSLAND Attorney-General Kerry Shine said today he was confident a new person would be appointed this week to review a decision not to charge a police officer over the death of an Aboriginal man in police custody.

Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36, died in November 2004 after being arrested for drunkenness on Palm Island, off north Queensland.

In September this year, state deputy coroner Christine Clements ruled that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley caused Mulrunji's death, but Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare later decided no charges would be laid.

After an outcry from the Palm Island community, Premier Peter Beattie announced there would be an independent judicial review of the decision and appointed Brisbane criminal lawyer Peter Davis and former Chief Judge of the District Court Pat Shanahan.

But Mr Shanahan last week excused himself following claims he had a conflict of interest after it was revealed he was on a panel that appointed Ms Clare as DPP in 1999.

Mr Shine said today the replacement for the former judge was likely to be announced next week.

“On Tuesday morning, I have organised a conference of the crown law officers who are responsible for obtaining the services of a person to complete that review,” Mr Shine said today.

“It has been difficult to make any progress, to be frank, over the Christmas-New Year period.

“But I'm confident that by the end of next week, that position will be filled.”

Palm Islanders have said they want an independent person from interstate, a view which Prime Minister John Howard said he understood.

“I think it would be a good idea if the Queensland government found another person outside the state to get involved,” Mr Howard was quoted as saying in an interview with Brisbane's Sunday Mail newspaper.

“I think that would make a lot of sense.”

Mr Beattie declined to reveal today if the replacement was someone from outside Queensland.

He told reporters that people were not “lining up” to replace Mr Shanahan and said it was a “silly” argument to ignore a Queenslander to conduct the review.

“I think it might be very useful if we wait until we get advice from the Crown solicitor,” Mr Beattie said.

“This is a very serious issue in terms of the credibility of the justice system and we will soberly and slowly work this through to get the best possible person.

“I think it would be silly to say we won't look at people interstate and we won't look at Queenslanders, but surely what we should do is find the best person and that's what we will do.”

Ruling out appointing a Queenslander would be the same as assuming there was no-one independent or professional enough in the state to do the job, he said.

“The important thing here is that justice has to be done and seen to be done.”