Updated: Jun 1, 2020


Channel Nine News' ‘investigation’ which aired on the 22nd May, 2020 is, in fact, a distorted and racist story about absolutely nothing.

The so-called 30M dollar ‘Pay Day’, which is the subject of Nine News’ story of 22 May, 2020, is the distribution of court-ordered compensation, to the people of Palm Island, for racial discrimination at the hands of the Queensland Police Service in the wake of the Palm Island riots.

Channel Nine News seems determined to gloss over Justice Mortimer’s findings of institutionalised racism, detailed in the landmark judgment, which culminated in the so-called “Pay Day” (there are 11 mentions of riots and only one of excessive force). Instead it dedicates the ‘news’ segment to what Palm Islanders have purchased with their compensation, a subject which is quite literally no-one else’s business.

  • “What the Channel Nine report conveniently understates in its ‘major investigation is the reason why the compensation was awarded…. Victims of violence, including racial violence are entitled to spend the compensation as they please. After all they’ve been through, they deserve it.” Dr Chelsea Bond, Associate Professor, University of Queensland

References to the "luxury boats" and "cars" are provocative in tone, which suggests that the Indigenous residents of Palm Island are either not entitled to or are undeserving of boats and cars. Whether this is because they are Indigenous, or because the compensation is, made up of "taxpayer money", remains unclear.

  • “Nine News, Palm Island investigation, reveals people awarded money went out and spent it…It was a pointless angle which told viewers the bleeding obvious – that people who got money they were owed bought things they needed or wanted.” Amanda Meade, the Guardian

  • “Could you point me in the direction of the other class actions you’ve followed up on to see how the money was spent?” Sophie Meixner, Journalist and digital producer for ABC News.

If the repeated references to "taxpayer money" and its use are the reason behind the segment, Nine News ought to point the finger at the Queensland Police Force, whose criminal behaviour and racism ensued the so-called $30M “Pay Day”.

  • “Many Indigenous observers and others heavily criticised the news piece, some claiming it was a racist dog whistle to suggest the community was wasting “taxpayer dollars.” Amanda Meade, the Guardian

  • “Disgusting racism. Your report is a lesson in what not to do. How the hell was this broadcast? The Palm Island residents obtained and spent their money lawfully. You should go after the racist cops, not their victims you racist bastards.” Shane Bazzi, Refugee Advocate

And yet, Nine News is more concerned with who bought which boat, and when.

Nine News' segment refers to the Palm Island riots as the time when “paradise was torn in two.”

Class PR would like to know to which paradise Channel Nine refers?

In 2004, Palm Island was the wretched place where Mulrunji Doomadgee, a tipsy Indigenous resident of Palm Island, was wrongfully arrested for public nuisance and lies dead in a cell, just forty-five minutes later, with a slew of horrific injuries.

An autopsy report by Coroner Michael Barnes stated that Mulrunji had suffered four broken ribs, which had ruptured his liver and spleen. It also found that the body’s blood alcohol content was 0.29 from a cocktail of methylated spirits mixed with sweet cordial. The Coroner informed the family of the deceased that the death was the result of “an intra-abdominal haemorrhage caused by a ruptured liver and portal vein”.

Justice Mortimer described the differential treatment by the police of the Palm Islanders by reference to their race as “an affront to the rule of law.”

Class PR comment:

When media stalwarts produce 'investigative journalism' designed to perpetuate racist tropes, it sets a very dangerous precedent. Australians must be conscious of their own confirmation biases and should not conflate 'news' with truth, regardless of the source.

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