Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Rule of law restored in Australia

Mohammed Haneef has won his appeal (1) to overturn the cancellation of his work visa for Australia. The decision by a Brisbane court suggests that the courts in Australia won't cravenly follow the rule by ministerial fiat witnessed in the Haneef case. Of course, Queensland Magistrate Jaqui Payne had already tried to do some elementary justice for Haneef, only to have her efforts quashed by Kevin Andrews (2). It is fitting that it was Andrews's decsion to cancel Haneef's visa, thus effectively cancelling Payne's decision on bail, that has now delivered a fatal blow to the Howard government.

Andrews was found to have committed a "jurisdictional error" (3), which means the court found he had over-stepped his authority. Bad judgment and incompetence have been a feature of this case. Haneef was detaiend on spurious charges, his visa was cancelled - a bullying tactic intended to keep him incarcerated - as a result of false information given to Andrews by the AFP, and then finally, the absurd travesty of Haneef being released and bustled out of the country, with John Howard (5), Mick Keelty (6) and Kevin Andrews (7) lining up to make nasty insinuations about Haneef's character. The Howard government have shown themselves willing to mis-use power to hang on to it. Hopefully, they won't have it too much longer.

The court decision marks - HOPEFULLY - the end of the Howard administration. They've nailled their colours to the mast so firmly, losing this round must be a huge setback. There are a few months still to potter through, and I wouldn't put it past Howard to try to cook up some new fear and loathing scare story to try to scrape another victory. But the Haneef case will probably be seen as the last act of his political career. Beyond this - again, HOPEFULLY - lie the dismal prospect of defeat and the possible ignominy of losing his seat. I'd feel more sympathy for him if he hadn't spent so much of his time in power making himself so utterly intolerable.
1 - "Court restores Haneef's work visa," unattributed article on NDTV, 21st of August, 2007. (http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070023299&ch=8/21/2007%201:02:00%20PM)
2- "Terror suspect loses visa," unattributed AAP article, in The Age, 16th of July, 2007. (http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/haneef-detained-at-villawood/2007/07/16/1184438205768.html)
3 - NDTV article, op. cit.
4 - "Cleared Indian doctor leaves Australia," unattributed AFP article on Yahoo, July 29th, 5 - 2007. (http://nz.news.yahoo.com/070728/8/11mj.html)
5 - As described on lefthandpalm at an earlier time: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2007/08/human-rights-commissioner-calls-for.html
6 - As described on lefthandpalm at an earlier time: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2007/08/bit-late.html
7 - As described on lefthandpalm on at an earlier date: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2007/08/more-bilge-from-kevin-andrews.html

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