July 31, 2007 | Graham

Andrews technically correct

After having read reports of Kevin Andrew’s press conference where he provides further reasons for revoking Mohamed Haneef’s visa (like this one) I’m satisfied that he had good grounds.
The minister only has to operate on the basis of the balance of probabilities. Evidence that might not be sufficient to obtain a criminal conviction can easily sustain a visa decision. Criminal law requires a higher standard of proof because the penalties are so onerous, but there is no alienable human right to a visa, as there is to freedom from imprisonment.
That doesn’t justify Andrew’s entire actions in this case. To revoke a visa in order to hold a man without trial for a period of perhaps two years while awaiting trial on a matter where he had been granted bail, is a denial of basic human rights. It also, as Julian Burnside stated on Radio National some mornings ago, constitues a breach of the rule of law.
No-one will be interested in this point because hardly anyone understood it, or made it. Instead the debate divided into those who say that Haneef is innocent, and those who say that he might be, but there are enough problems with his story to treat him with extreme caution.
While he was in custody, the pro-Haneef forces seemed to me to have the upper-hand. Since the collapse of his case, and Andrew’s proper exercise of his discretion to deport him, the balance has changed. Haneef has made a number of mistakes.
He did a paid interview with 60 Minutes. Not an error on its own, but tacky. Then when he got back to India he put it in the context of claiming to be “victimised”. The tenor of his responses was clearly political. Islam is a “religion of peace” so he couldn’t have been involved in anything. Yes, well… And I’m sure I heard him say his training was against violence (but can’t find the video clip anywhere).
The government is a little lucky that these comments by Alexander Downer have disappeared, “What do you expect them to do, fall on the ground and grovel? Eat dirt? I mean, get real.” But Kevin Rudd must be wishing he’d kept to his original plan and said nothing, rather than calling for a judicial inquiry.
It could be that this will be a turning point in Rudd’s opinion ratings. He needed to take some risks on this issue, and he has, but the wrong ones. If they’d made a stand on using the visa to lock Haneef up after he’d been granted bail, then they’d be clearly differentiated from the government, but broadly on the publicly acceptable right line. Instead, they’ve allowed themselves to get side-tracked onto an argument about whether Andrews had the right to revoke the visa, which appears to have now been settled against them.

Posted by Graham at 10:00 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Please,Andrews is a bloody dummy,he has no idea,a judicial inquiry whats wrong with that,this case has been stuffed up from go to whoa but the Feds at the least Andrews and Kelty and the DPP should be sacked along with the 300 who laboured mightily and produced nothing.
    Do you think the Indian Govt would not be in possession of the same facts Andrews was,and they don,t seem concerned,why so, they have a Muslim problem as well.
    This is just Howard playing fast and very loose with the truth as he does when hes is in trouble,because what you have to remember is Howard will do and say anything including selective release of information to discredit people who he wants to demonize,to get reelected.
    Howard also counts on the unquestioning acceptance of his his spin but the large group in OZ who accept without question anything that the Govt says,this is also even more true where the major newspaper is controlled by people who support the Govt at all times ie WA and the West, and I often wonder why con men do so well in Australia but after watching 11 yrs of Howard I understand why.
    PS nice pic on the column.good to put a face to the name

    Comment by John Ryan — August 1, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  2. It’s not over yet Graham. Too early to call I think. Already Andrews is not answering questions about Haneef’s attempts to contact UK police.
    I notice today that Andrews is signalling the whistle plus wedge tactic of proposing tighter immigration conditions. That offers Rudd opportunities over immigration rates which he probably wouldn’t take on, but could if push came to shove.

    Comment by Lyn — August 1, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  3. Andrew Bartlett is 100% correct: it’s not the minister who is at fault, it is the legislation which permits him to act with complete disregard for the civil liberties of anyone who comes here as a refugee, a migrant or a guest.
    Well, Kevin Andrews *is* personally at fault inasmuch as he helped to pass those draconian 1998 amendments to the Act, but so is almost everyone else who was in Parliament at the time.
    We shouldn’t fault him now for acting according to the law.
    Don’t sack the minister, fix the law.

    Comment by xoddam aka Jonathan Maddox — August 3, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

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