• Federal Labor MPs Cathy O'Toole and Linda Burney meet with Townsville locals before a visit to Palm Island. (Facebook (Cathy O'Toole))
Three MPs have slammed the Queensland Government's move to appeal a federal court ruling which found police had been racist in their response to riots on Palm Island in 2004.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
25 Jan 2017 - 5:14 PM  UPDATED 25 Jan 2017 - 5:14 PM

The landmark ruling in December found police had breached the Racial Discrimination Act amidst community unrest after the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee, awarding $220,000 in damages to Palm Island man Lex Wotton and his family.

The Palasczcuk Government last week backed an appeal on behalf of the Queensland Police Service, much to the outrage of Palm Islanders

A growing number of parliamentarians have since spoken out against the move to appeal, including federal Labor MP Cathy O'Toole and Queensland politicians Billy Gordon and Scott Stewart. 

"I would like to see the state Labor government leave the decision stand as it has been made," member for Herbert Cathy O'Toole told NITV.

"That would be a huge relief for the people of Palm Island. It would give them confidence that the government governs for all Queenslanders."

Ms O'Toole accompanied fellow Labor MP Linda Burney on a visit to Palm Island earlier this week, and says "emotion is raw" among the community.

"As one member of the community said to me, 'we just feel like we've had a kick in the guts'," she said.

"This community and Lex Wotton definitely need closure. They need an opportunity to put this behind them and to move on."

Queensland Independent MP Billy Gordon said he was "sickened" by the decision to lodge an appeal.

"The appeal is hurtful and will reinforce prejudices and beliefs that police can act with impunity," he said in a statement. 

'The government's decision... is regressive and stifles the healing process."

State Labor MP Scott Stewart told the Townsville Bulletin the appeal had "reopened old wounds" for the community, and requested a full briefing from the Attorney-General's office .

Asked whether the government stood by its appeal, a spokesperson for the Attorney-General said it would be inappropriate to comment as the matter was before the courts.

Last week, Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said he was grateful the appeal had been lodged.

"The appeal is based on, I believe, sound legal grounds, but that is to be tested through that process," he said.