July 23, 2007 | Graham

What part of separation of powers don’t you understand, Premier?

Peter Beattie appears to be leading the Rudd Labor attack on the federal government over the Haneef case. He is a curiously flawed tool.
Rather than attacking the decision to revoke Haneef’s visa, he has been burrowing into the government over the conduct of the case by the Federal Police and the DPP. Now I’d agree there appear to be flaws in their handling of this matter, but it’s not so long ago that Beattie himself was struggling with the conduct of his police and DPP in the Mulrunji case.
He more than most current political leaders should be aware that no government is entitled to direct a police inquiry or tell the public prosecutor how to assemble their brief. Howard is undoubtedly embarrassed over the federal police’s handling of the matter, but he is constitutionally and practically unable to do anything.
Which doesn’t mean that he should leave the issue alone. Former premiers of Queensland have been embarrassed by their ignorance of the separation of powers. Maybe Howard or Ruddock could forward the case of civics education and ask the current Queensland premier for his version of the doctrine. It could be embarrassing both for him and for Kevin Rudd, who is presumably the intended beneficiary of the premier’s stirring.

Posted by Graham at 9:25 am | Comments (12) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. where is this “separation of powers” from, is it written down anywhere?
    or is it just something you make up when convenient?

    Comment by al loomis — July 23, 2007 @ 11:46 am

  2. Al Loomis are you for real or just baiting?
    Take a look at the first three chapters of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia (viz)
    I. The Parliament
    II. The Executive Government
    III. The Judicature

    Comment by MJL — July 23, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  3. Only the politically naive seriously believe we have true separation of powers in Australia. The public service has been far too politicised for far too long. I personally have lost faith in the independence of the AFP a long time ago.

    Comment by pondie84 — July 23, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  4. my point is, pollies ignore the principle, and what happens? zip.
    there is no one who can touch a minister, no cop, no judge, as long as his gang controls parliament.
    the oz constitution would have us believe there is no ‘prime minister’, and the gg is boss. kerr believed it, god rest him. no one else does, so the constitution is empty. writing things down is necessary, but not sufficient. you also need the words to reflect the reality.
    the oz constitution is a sick joke. the pollies know it, recent events will have enlightened you, too.

    Comment by al loomis — July 23, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

  5. I’m still waiting for a fed labor pollie to come out a say Haneef-gate is a farce and the AFP stuffed it up.
    Should I hold my breath?

    Comment by free dr haneef — July 23, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  6. That’s just nonsense. Any government that breaches the law can be sued, and in this country, if members of parliament are found guilty they will suffer a legal penalty.
    It’s an offence to interfere with a police investigation.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 23, 2007 @ 10:12 pm

  7. Maybe I’ve missed something, but from what I’ve seen Pete is reponding to the suggestion (in this dog’s breakfast of an investigation) that there may have been a bomb plot in this state.
    Surely anyone, beyond the most partisanly blinkered, would concede that such a situation would most certainly be in Pete’s sphere of reponsibility. Just in case something serious does happen sometime, he has a duty to make sure canberra’s keystone cops, (regardless of whether they are politically corrupted, or simply incompetent in this case,) are quite clear that it’s just not good enough. Sounds off, pot calling kettle black.
    How many wake up Australia calls do we need? Our public response instruements are simply not up to the job of anything much out of the ordinary. It’s painfully obvious that even the predictible and ordinary are beyond our respond-ability. We’re flat out dealing with a cyclone larry, let alone a katrina, our hospitals are already down because of bodgies for bean-counters, who needs a budgie flu pandemic?
    And let’s not talk about the non-water, or a coal-beholden economy.
    So it’s no surprise, nor scandal, that Pete should
    get on his high horse to discharge his duty to protect his constituency, even from imagined threats. What’s more dangerous to him is the secondary threat, that of people waking up to the fact that we’re on a hiding to nothing if anything really bad happens if the AFP’s apparent incompetence is indicative, of our local outfits, which I’m afraid it is.
    You really think our medical system could cope with a bird flu? Hell, the pandemic preparation Exercise Cumpston, held in Brisbane last october, was a $4 million joke, is it any wonder we haven’t seen the report from it yet, 9 months later?
    Be afraid people, very afraid.
    They’ve only got clowns to send in.
    Dripping with irony…Cheers all

    Comment by Frederick Pottinger — July 23, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  8. Separation of power? Good point but the problem is the federal politicians that want to be labeled keystone cops.
    The endgame, Haneef will be deported before the federal court overturns the actions taken by the keystone polly. Separation of power, what a joke.

    Comment by Charles — July 24, 2007 @ 7:50 am

  9. Given the growing politicisation of the public service under the current federal government, the first step might be to find out what Howard and Costello understand by the separation of powers.

    Comment by MikeM — July 24, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

  10. “Howard is undoubtedly embarrassed over the federal police’s handling of the matter,” “Embarrassed” surely he does not know what this is. “…but he is constitutionally and practically unable to do anything.” That has never bothered him before.
    “Any government that breaches the law can be sued, and in this country, if members of parliament are found guilty they will suffer a legal penalty.” In your dreams!
    Perhaps 50 years ago this may have been true. Today, with open political appointment of the Judges and open political interference at every level of the law in the states, this has gone by the board because the people themselves could not give, not have the time to give, a tuppenny damn. (Didn’t Keating stop us suing the Commonwealth gov’t?)
    With all the posturing from Beattie and all the innocence from Howard the victim of this political hoo haa is still in prison. The press from certain quarters seem intent on keeping him there. So much for democracy. It’s only something that happens free country – and we do not comply.
    As for calling the AFP Keystone cops just look at why they were started.

    Comment by Yendis — July 24, 2007 @ 1:12 pm

  11. With regret Yendis is very much to the point.
    While I for one have criticised Peter Beattie time and again, in this case he is on the ball. What “Graham” does not appear to understand is that there is a separation of “sovereign” powers between the States and the commonwealth. Dr Haneef residing in Queensland (see Section 120 of the Constitution) should have been held in State prison under State laws, nothing to do with the Australian Federal Police, ASIO, etc. It is the State Police who only have constitutional powers to question him.
    Any “purported” evidence the Australian Federal Police allegedly obtained would be “inadmissible” in Court if his lawyers have any proper understanding of what is constitutionally applicable.
    There is more, a lot more and saving me to set it all out you can read some of it on my blog at http://au.360.yahoo.com/profile-ijpxwMQ4dbXm0BMADq1lv8AYHknTV_QH and my website http://www.schorel-hlavka.com
    As such, John Howard has every right, indeed has a duty to ensure that the Australian Federal Police does not in breach of law by ignoring sovereign powers of the State of Queensland. He may not interfere with ordinary police investigations but has a “duty” to avoid Australian Federal Police to act unconstitutionally. The danger being that if someone indeed did commit any crimes, then if the “evidence” was obtained unconstitutionally then a Court could not allow it to be used as “evidence” and a criminal could walk free. Now, that is the very danger when we allow those who are to enforce the law themselves to place themselves above the law. No so called TERRROISM LAWS would be useful, regardless how comprehensive they are, if the very police investigating the matters are acting unlawfully.
    Neither can Dr. Haneef be transported to Villawood in NSW as this would violate Section 120 of the Constitution. And there is more, a lot more, see my blog.
    Just that Graham would do better to read up on constitutional matters first before seeking to criticise someone about it.

    Comment by Mr. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka — July 25, 2007 @ 12:52 am

  12. MikeM, if you think Howard has politicised the public service, then you should have a look at the states. In fact, there is no greater beneficiary of politicisation of the public service in the country today than Kevin Rudd. He was a political appointee to the public service in Queensland, and is widely held to be responsible for the gutting of the public service in Queensland. Anything Howard has done is mild by comparison.
    That doesn’t make it right, but it does put it in perspective.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 25, 2007 @ 8:28 am

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