July 30, 2007

Minister Jackanapes

I don’t ever remember sitting around being ashamed of being Australian, or cringing into my Korn Flakes with mortification about our international reputation, nor I have I ever suffered loss of composure over the actions and inactions of our sometimes blitheringly stupid politicians, but then along came Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Hoping to be given permission to release a much vaunted “secret dossier” so as to convince a cynical public that he had compelling reasons for canceling Mohamed Haneef’s visa on character grounds, the Minister has been sounding desperate and pathetic.

Minister Andrews’ portfolio has the latitude to apply a much wobblier degree of evidence and proof than, for example, police or juries, which is nice, because the Minister has set his personal bar somewhere around 300 foot below sea level - that way he doesn't have to even cock a leg to get it over.

The Department of Immigration doesn’t need much, and certainly nothing much that might be deemed “secret”.

Let’s remind ourselves for a second that no law enforcement agency in Britain is investigating Dr Haneef – for any reason. Zip. Yet the events leading to Haneef’s arrest as a terror suspect and the subsequent canceling of his Australian work visa all happened in Britain. The British authorities have no suspicions in relation to Haneef. Nothing to see here.

The flimsy charges against him were finally dropped a few days ago, but the canceled visa remains canceled, and Haneef is now home in India, greeted by many happy well-wishers when he landed at the airport.

So, why I am cringing about the Minister Andrews? It's not merely because he's a dufus.

"The cancellation of the visa was on character grounds and what the legislation provides is that there is a reasonable suspicion; that is, you know that there is a doubt, this man has had associations with people engaged in criminal conduct," he told ABC radio today."

Yes, you can’t pick your cousins!!

Let that be a lesson to us all.

Actually it might be best to disavow all of your relatives, right now, so that you never have to carry the ignominy of having “associated” with them, which may, at an unpredictable moment, sully your reputation and limit your life and employment chances globally.

(Don't know about you, but if I'm not my brother's keeper, I'm sure as heck not my cousin's, or my second cousin's, or my next door neighbor's keeper.)

While the doctor’s legal team will try to have the visa ruling over-turned, the Minister was eager to be rid of Dr Haneef, who, unsurprisingly left Australia at the earliest opportunity, to return to his family and to meet his new born child, who is now about 6 weeks old - that’s the baby he was going to visit when arrested at the airport on suspicion of being a terrorist, because he gave a SIM card to his cousin in Britain.

These were Minister Andrews' dismissive and derisory comments after Dr Haneef was released from jail:

"After taking advice, including from the Australian Federal Police, I have indicated that the Commonwealth has no objection to Dr Haneef leaving Australia," Mr Andrews said.

"Indeed the effect of the visa cancellation is that he should remove himself, he should depart Australia in any event.”

Yeah, nick off, get the heck out of here, don’t appeal the visa ruling, make it easy on everyone, just go far, far, far away!

Yesterday, following Dr Haneef’s departure, the Minister became even smarmier:

"Mr Andrews - who cancelled Dr Haneef's visa soon after he was bailed - said the doctor's swift departure after his release from detention only made him look more suspicious.

"If anything, that actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion,"

No word yet on whether the good Minister will be adding his invigorated and heightened suspicion to the secret dossier.

Nor do we have a clause reference for the relevant evidentiary framework in the legislation from which the Minister is hanging his suspicion. Perhaps the Minister is waiting for permission to release that secret clause along with the secret dossier.

Don’t know about you, but I’m glad this guy is only in charge of immigration, not ASIO or the Federal Police, or indeed any arms of law enforcement or the judiciary.

Left with his pants dangling around his ankles, 51 year old Minister is acting much like an average five year old, with an equally rudimentary understanding of his portfolio, legislation and appropriate Ministerial decorum.

(I imagine Minister Andrews' next press release will commence with something like: "nayyna, nayyna, nayyna, nayyna ...". )

Sunday Age ...

Monday Age ...

Update: Just a little mis-start

"Australia will not be apologising to Dr Haneef," Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney.

No, of course not, we never apologise for damned anything.

"Dr Haneef was not victimised and Australia's international reputation has not been harmed by this 'mis-start' to its new anti-terrorism laws."

Yep, just a little mis-start. It's still good.

The Age ...

Meanwhile, Prime Minister in waiting, Thumbelina-Rudd, has announced a $500 M plan to help on the supply-side of the housing market. Bizarrely, local governments would via to get their grubby little hands on the money, through which they would, by some market miracle, pass on some infrastructure savings to buyers of new houses.

Sounds to me like getting State governments to cut stamp duties and sundry other inflated costs would be infinitely more efficient (also requiring zero additional public servants to administer) and would be a direct benefit to home buyers, as well as being more equitable. Oh, oops, that's right - State governments agreed to do that years ago, as part of the GST deal.

Passing on savings to the mug-punters? Somehow, when pass the parcel starts amongst government levels the music never stops and no-one gets to unwrap the parcel.

The Age ...


  1. Anonymous12:56 PM

    Definitely no apologies from Howard on this one. Or so he says.

    Does make one wonder, though Caz.

    Is this a ploy to garner support with the swinging voter?

    You know,show we are big and tough on the fight with terrorism. We will not resile crap.

    Or is there something in that confidential investigation brief, that is causing the government to dig their heels in.

    Hmmm. Call me a cynic, but.........shakes head.

    Notice Thumbelina is "keeping his nose clean."

    Save for proclaiming there ought to be an independent review,and basically saying he did not dispute that Andrews had "compelling evidence" which justified the cancellation of Haneef's visa.

    I'm wondering, you know,do we really HAVE an opposition!

  2. That secret dossier would need to have something extraordinarily damning in it Kath, at least for my standards.

    As I said, even the Brit’s have no interest at all in this guy, and the terrorist acts were on their turf.

    SIM card wasn’t where the AFP said it was, and even if it had been, well, so what, lots of people give an unfinished SIM card to a friend, big whoop. It was in HIS name for goodness sake! He didn’t even try to "cover" his tracks!

    He supposedly was leaving the country without getting leave from his job. That turned out to be untrue as well; he had one weeks leave.

    He had a one way ticket. Big deal. A relative had paid for the first part of the trip, he was going to pay for the return ticket – probably waiting for pay to come through. No big deal, nothing unusual about that, especially when he was anxious to get home to see the baby and his wife.

    He had photographs of buildings with him & his wife in the foreground. Hmm, yep, all those Japanese tourists taking pics of each other standing in front Aussie buildings had best find something else to photograph when they get here. Seems that family happy snaps taken in a new country are incriminating.

    I notice that Howard – the Prime Minister!!! – has said that regardless of everything “he could still be a terrorist”. Bloody hell!! I’m appalled! You can’t just run around saying things like that about someone against whom they had no evidence to even hold him, let alone charge him. And from the Prime Minister of all people, that’s really disgraceful.

    If they do this to an ostensibly innocent man (and we have nothing to believe otherwise), with such ludicrously flimsy material – none of it even amounted to “evidence” of any kind – how would they handle the real Mc Coy? Seriously, if they can be so incompetent and have zero regard for an innocent person’s reputation and future, how would they manage a real threat?

    I don’t think this case illustrates being “tough”, it has all been too farcical, and insulting to be considered a benchmark of serious intent.

    Rudd went along like a meek little lamb, towing the gov’t line. He slapped Beattie down for calling for an inquiry and criticizing the investigation.

    In his entire time as a pollie Rudd has never had to make a judgment call, never had to make a tough decision, never had to take the lead on anything. How is he going to polish up when that becomes his actual job – and all without Howard providing instructions for him to follow? Gives me serious pause for concern.

  3. Anonymous4:03 PM

    Yes indeed Caz. I'm seriously concerned as well.

    We have Howard, and Howard lite.

    One who will do anything to stay in power, and another who will do anything to obtain it.

    And it was certainly poor form for Howard to say "he could still be a terrorist."
    Beggars belief really.

    The fact that he was not even challenged by Rudd is more than a little disconcerting.

    Seems the only bloke with any real integrity here, is Peter Beattie who castigated the government over it's handling of the case.

    The fact that he was told to STFU, by Rudd, speaks volumes.

  4. "One who will do anything to stay in power, and another who will do anything to obtain it."

    Beautifully succinct Kath, and too damned right!

    They're pollies, and I know it's their primary job description to get and keep power, but it's all a bit on the nose.

    We, the punters, like at least a little whiff of integrity and fresh vision, even if it ultimately amounts to naught, or little, in the glare and difficulty of putting intentions into practice. A veneer of passion and insight would be worth a few votes, but neither of these buggers can muster a bean between them. All very disappointing really. Politics and the future of the country is reduced to pragmatics and tedium. There is no ooomph!

  5. Anonymous1:51 PM

    What do you make of this latest revelation(if you can call it that)
    of Andrews' Caz?

    Releasing a snippet of information, that to my mind, still doesn't clarify nor justify the governments actions.

  6. It was rather tee wee as far as "secret dossiers" go, wasn't it Kath?

    More a scrunched up post-it note than a dossier.

    I admit that my initial thoughts about his actions were on the high end of the "deeply suspicious" spectrum. Trying to hop on a plane in haste, one way ticket, etc. I was suckered as much as anyone.

    Obviously I've revised my irrational and hyper-alert reaction since those early days of the case.

    This secret post-it note still doesn't swing me back the other way.

    I struggle with the fact that he gave away a SIM card (which was NOT used in any criminal activity) in his very own name - no covering tracks, even though he was off to Oz to take up a job as a doctor. Why would he do that? He wouldn't be so stupid.

    Now we find that, supposedly, not only immediate family were aware, and perhaps even involved in the plot, but the entire extended clan, across Britain and India were all privy to a terrorist act. Wow, imagine that!

    *Derisory snort!*

    Why was he "warned" by anyone about the SIM card that wasn't even used in the bombing attempt?

    How did anyone in India even know about his old SIM card, left in London many months earlier, with a few dollars worth of calls left on it?

    And what kind of terrorist (especially the suicide-variety) tucks away a "special" SIM card, more than six months in advance of a planned bombing? Heck, it's hardly a difficult part to get your hands on, and it wouldn't matter a damn whose name it's in if your intention is to blow yourself up.

    I'll bet every person arrested in Britain over this had a least one mobile phone to their name.

    SIM card schmim-card. What a farce.

    I don't pretend to understand why any particular conversations were held, there is no logic to any of it, but there is no obvious interpretation either (refer rhetorical questions above).

    Perhaps his family in India were afraid for him, irrationally, but nonetheless concerned that he was about to be implicated in something of which he had no involvement? As it turns out, they were right!

  7. Anonymous11:15 AM

    See Bill Leak's cartoon in the weekend Oz Caz? It's a good'un.

    Thumbelina Rudd? To be sure..To be sure..

    Read also Matt Price's column in enquirer..

    I still think Rudd has his work cut out for him here in WA.

    People I speak to want to know what he stands for. What are his policies is the question on everyone's lips?

    Time will tell.

    Howard lite might just up and float away, unless he can get get hold of an anchor..

  8. Anonymous6:22 PM