Curmudgeon of the Day goes to the caller I heard on ABC702 talkback radio this morning (paraphrased from memory):
What a ridiculous charge?…How do you even do that? Tie it to a brick and chuck it at someone?
He’s talking of course of Dr Mohammed Haneef, who was yesterday granted conditional bail by a Queensland magistrate on charges laid against him of recklessly supplying resources (said SIM card) to a terrorist organisation (what other people would describe as passing on a UK SIM card he could not use in Australia to his cousin when he left the UK).
The call was in response to news of the decision by Federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews last night to preempt judicial due process and the presumption of innocence. Andrews used his ministerial oversight powers to revoke Haneef’s visa and consign him to the Villawood Detention Centre pending further investigations and the resolution of his court case.
Shaun at LP has a great post and links round-up on opinon about Andrews v. Haneef, and quotes Peter Wilkinson most aptly:
Indiscriminate repression is totally incompatible with the liberal values of humanity, liberty and justice. It is a dangerous illusion to believe one can “protect’ liberal democracy by suspending liberal rights and forms of government.
Haneef is still currently in jail awaiting the posting of his bail. Several lawyers have suggested that he could avoid immigration detention by not posting the bail:
If I were Haneef’s lawyer, I’d be advising his surety to fail to post bail. That way, he has to be remanded in custody, with appropriate legal rights (like access to his lawyer).
If the Minister insists on locking him up in Villawood after that, we’ve got a constitutional crisis.
I wonder if that would actually work. As the same lawyer later noted, even though Queensland does not allow unsolicited-by-defendant third parties to post bail, the charge against him is a Federal charge and perhaps the Government will therefore manage to winkle him out of the penal system regardless.
This strikes me as yet another example of bloodyminded heavyhandedness by the Minister (remember Scott Parkin?) and more troublingly a telling display of unreasonable lengths gone in political interference with the rule of law. Labor is once again disappointingly absent in criticising these actions.
Investigating Haneef initially is entirely defensible. Obviously having shared a home relatively recently with one of the London suspects in the recent car bomb plots and having a SIM card in his name found in one of their phones he was a figure of interest who needed to be questioned. But why hold him so long before charging him? And why not rely on the courts to determine his guilt or innocence as they are constituted to do?
We look at how the Bushocracy has hamstrung the rule of law in the USA and we are anxious. Does Howard’s Government really think they can keep on scaring us into voting for them forever? Haven’t they heard of the Boy Who Cried Wolf?
Perhaps the average Australian is really more interested in what actions like Kevin Andrews’ might mean to the health system:
Doctors ‘less likely’ to come to Australia
An organisation representing doctors trained overseas says it will be harder to attract doctors to Australia because of Haneef’s case.
Four doctors in Perth also had their home searched twice by Australian Federal Police, but were yesterday cleared of any association with illegal activity.
President of the Australian Doctors Trained Overseas Association, Andrew Schwartz, says the public nature of the investigations could now make it harder for Australia to recruit overseas doctors.
“Like it or not, for at least the next 15 years Australia will be heavily dependent upon overseas trained doctors to prevent the collapse of health services,” he said.
“I really believe it will make the possibility of recruiting to people here just that much harder.
“I’d like to understand why all the publicity and why every doctor, every overseas trained doctor – whoever happened to have spoken to somebody – is now interviewed and everything is leaked to the media by the Federal Police.
“Is this a public relations exercise?”