RUNNING INTERFERENCE July 25, 2007Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
The prime minister seems to be suffering from an attention defective disorder. He accuses Peter Beattie of “running interference” and acting ahead of the decision of the court in the case of Dr Haneef. He fails to mention that there has been a pattern of leaking to New Ltd, either from the government or AFP, and that as a result of the release of the record of interview various inaccuracies were identified in the submission made on behalf of the Federal Government by the prosecutor. These are not matters of concern to Howard, although they might well be of concern to the public, perhaps especially judges and lawyers.
The inaccuracies seem to me to be extraordinary. The leaks as well. They show, in my view, a wanton disregard for justice. We might assume in the absence of contradiction and credible alternative that they are part of a government wedge and fear campaign related to the upcoming federal election, something that Howard has not denied. It seems to me that the terrorism laws are being used to raise the lynch mob with the intention that the presumption of innocence should not apply to Dr Haneef.
The use of the Migration Act is extraordinary. When before has the powers to revoke a visa been used to to contradict the decision of the court and incarcerate a person in prison for up to two years, or however long it takes to gather the evidence to make the case against Dr Haneef, and then to deport him regardless of the outcome of the trial. Howard said in effect today that he had a say in the decision on the Haneef matter, even though the decision was technically taken by the Immigration Minister.
John Howard has form, not so much of running interference but of tackling the man without the ball if it suits his purposes. Howard and his government did not oppose the Guantanamo process which saw David Hicks locked up for five years, and then doing a deal to get out, but not receiving the fair trial that was so unctuously promised. Lex Lasry, QC who was the observer for the Law Society of Australia observes:
“The very real prospect of people being condemned to death and executed by such a system is truly ‘Kafkaesque’. It reflects shame on the Howard Government, which supported the military commissions. That this support was provided for political purposes is demonstrably clear.”
To what extent has Dr Haneef’s treatment been orchestrated for political purposes? Are these not the political purposes of Howard? Some of this verges on the criminal, which like the case against Dr Haneef requires probative evidence. We seem to have reached the point where a Minister is able to destroy a person’s reputation, despite the decision of the courts.
The repercussions of the Haneef case will be far more deeper, wider-ranging, and longer lasting than those of the Hick’s case. Here there are economic implications and international relations involved. India after all has 175 million Muslims. Then there are the Australian Muslims who might feel that the anti-terrorism laws are directed against them.
In these days of political induced fear and distortion, clear thinking might be the best option. The prime minister has been spinning so long that he might just get giddy and fall down. The punters might well stop listening.
Disclaimer: Haneef may be convicted but it is very unlikely and difficult on the evidence so far presented. The Immigration Minister, a sincere Christian, has already convicted him of the charge of being a person of bad character through association with his relatives.
At the very least it looks messy so Howard and his devious minions will have to something else with which to fracture the support for Rudd. Of course these political games are despicable, but perhaps they are the measure of the man, a colossus by some estimates towering over Australian political history.
Postscript: 25 July 2007
ABC News Online reports that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is reviewing the Haneef case. The reports records that:
Mr Bugg says there are matters which have developed as the case has progressed, but he did not spell out which aspects of the case he is referring to.
He says the best way to examine it is to have a broader review of the available material and the proceedings to date.
Earlier today, Haneef’s lawyer, Peter Russo, said that the wording of his client’s charge should be changed.
He now welcomes the review of Haneef’s case, but says it is too early to tell what the review means.
This sounds to me like it may be a welcome development, but the DPP’s conclusions, to the extent they are made public, it seems to me will reflect on the ministerial discretion exercised under the Migration Act. So the unfortunate development of the intertwining of legal and political discretion will remain.