May 03, 2007 06:32am
Article from: The Daily Telegraph
AUSTRALIAN supergroup Powderfinger's new album could be banned before its release over a song closely resembling the Palm Island death-in-custody case.
The defence team for Palm Island police officer Chris Hurley will reportedly refer the lyrics of Black Tears to State Attorney-General Kerry Shine before next month's national release of the Brisbane band's album.
The content and proposed timing of the songs release raises some serious concerns regarding Mr Hurley's trial, lawyer Glen Cranny said.
In an explosive second verse, singer Bernard Fanning describes a scene similar to one version of events surrounding the 2004 death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji in the Palm Island watchhouse.
"An island watchhouse bed, a black man's lying dead," Fanning sings in lyrics obtained by mX that cannot be published in full for legal reasons.
Sen-Sgt Hurley will face trial on manslaughter and assault charges in Townsville Supreme Court on June 12, just 10 days after the Dream Days at the Hotel Existence album is released and tipped to debut at No.1.
Band manager Paul Piticco said Fanning confirmed the song was about Palm Island, but was not legalled because it was not specific.
"The song is about the whole issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody," he said. "(But the island mention) could be a watchhouse in the Bahamas or something."
Legal experts believe the Powderfinger album could be delayed, at least in Queensland and nationally online, until after the trial.
The Daily Telegraph
Bernard Fanning Responds To Criticism of New Song
by Paul Cashmere - May 5 2007
Powderfinger singer Bernard Fanning has released a statement following news of an investigation into lyrics on the forthcoming album.
The lyrics for the track 'Black Tears' attracted legal attention because a court case pertaining to the subject matter is still yet to go to trail.
Fanning issued the following statement to explain the situation with the song:
"We are making a statement to clear up confusion regarding the release of Powderfinger's album "Dream Days at the Hotel Existence". The song "Black Tears" was written to bring attention to the plight of Aboriginal people in Australia. It was originally inspired by a trip that I took last year to Uluru".
"Despite the prevalence of literature and signage asking people not to climb on 'the rock', due to its sacred nature, there were still people scaling it. Some of the information compared ascending Uluru to climbing on the altar at the Vatican, which would be seen as highly offensive and disrespectful by most Catholics (or most people for that matter), and yet they still continue to climb. Even groups of Australian schoolkids, with their teachers and parents climbed it, actively disrespecting the wishes of Aboriginal people on their land".
"To me, that was another example of how far down the priority list Aboriginal issues are in this country".
"Then, in December when the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions handed down her finding on the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomoodgee on Palm Island, I completed the second part of the song. I read extensively the news coverage of the issue and from that formed an opinion which formed the lyrics of the song".
"It has, within the last few days, come to our attention that the hearing of manslaughter charges arising from the death on Palm Island are due to be heard by the Court on 12 June 2007. Our album is due for release on 2 June 2007".
"Whilst we firmly believe that the song would have no bearing upon the legal process, in the interests of removing even the slightest suggestion of any prejudice, we have included an alternative version on our album "Dream Days at the Hotel Existence". The album will be released, as planned, Saturday June 2 and "Black Tears" will be included".
"There was never any intention on our part to influence the judicial process in this or any other matter. I hope that the song still has its desired effect which is to bring attention to the obvious disadvantage that is still being suffered by Aboriginal people in this country and in particular the issue of indigenous deaths in custody".
Bernard Fanning on behalf of Powderfinger