'Debacle': Queensland forensic testing backlog blasted

·2-min read

Queensland's forensic testing backlog has been labelled a "debacle" as concerns grow about knock-on problems for the justice system.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath confirmed there were 10,000 cases awaiting analysis but said it was business as usual.

The state-run lab recently sent out an interstate SOS answered by the Australian Federal Police, which offered to help test bone samples.

It followed a damning inquiry into the state's forensic testing regime, which found many DNA samples went untested and the lab incorrectly ruled others "insufficient".

Ms D'Ath said historic cases were being dealt with separately and priority was being given to cases before the courts.

"We do have a backlog in relation to just the normal evidence that comes through the doors of forensic services every week," the minister said.

"That is due to a range of reasons including shortage of the scientists but also because we did lose staff through the commission of inquiry and had to rebuild our processes."

Opposition leader David Crisafulli demanded urgent action.

"The LNP is today calling on the state government to outline the depths of the forensic lab DNA debacle and a pathway out of this mess," he said.

Mr Crisafulli said innocent people may have been denied justice.

"It matters because there are potentially guilty people walking free, and it matters because people bravely stepped up to tell their stories to drive change," he said.

"The government has a duty to ensure that at the heart of a fine justice system, there are systems in place to get people the justice they deserve."

The four-month inquiry into the state's embattled DNA testing system found failures to properly test samples for years due to "grave maladministration involving dishonesty".

The inquiry revealed lab managers focused on speed rather than accuracy, to the detriment of quality science.

The facility has 60 full-time equivalent lab staff and 21 reporting scientists, with the government recruiting another 40 staff, including 30 DNA scientists.

Problems at Queensland's Forensic and Scientific Services lab were first raised in 2021.