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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

draconian legislation « Previous | |Next »
July 22, 2007

As mentioned in this article in The Sunday Age most of Australia's anti-terrorism provisions are enshrined in four major pieces of legislation — the ASIO legislation, the Commonwealth Crimes Act, the Commonwealth Criminal Code and the National Security Information Act. Anti-terror amendments have also injected "national security" secrecy provisions into a raft of other statutes, including the innocuous-sounding Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act — often used in cases involving cancelled passports.

The implications: a scene reminiscent of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay's orange prison suits. It signifies the internment camp.

Eddie Safarik, Mohamed Haneef being taken from the Brisbane police watchhouse last week.

Welcome to the world of Guantanamo Bay in Australia.

The public, the federal ALP and all state Labor governments have supported the above legislation and dismissed the issue of human rights — especially in relation to non-Australian citizens---as a luxury that cannot be afforded in the "war on terrorism." The state Labor governments actually fell over one another in who the most hairy chested, with the Premiers outdoing one another modeling themselves on Rambo.

It was okay for the traditional order of the criminal justice system to be turned on its head and a suspect held in custody without being charged while police worked out a case against him. It is okay that even though the case against Haneef the heavy-handed imprisonment is warranted and Haneef should be treated as if he were a major criminal. This was, and is, justified on utilitarian grounds.

So is the suspension of the independence of the judiciary, the suspension of separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary, and the suspension of the rule of law.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:11 AM | | Comments (27)


In the Liz Porter article in The Sunday Age that you linked to Porter describes a realistic scenario under the new anti-terrorism legislation.

She says that on an ordinary winter's morning in a capital city you stop at your local cafe for a latte and find yourself chatting with the stranger at the next table.

The next day you are taken in for questioning by ASIO.Unbeknown to you, the man who passed you the sports section of his newspaper had links to a "terrorist" organisation and was under the security organisation's surveillance. You are held in isolation and forbidden to contact your family or your employer to tell them where you are. You must answer questions, or face five years' imprisonment.

Why is this? Simple:
The officers investigating your cafe companion suspect you may have valuable "intelligence" about him. You are not suspected of any offence. But you will be committing a criminal offence if, after you are released, you tell anyone where you were or what happened to you.

Porter says that you face prosecution if you go to your MP to complain that you have been mistreated in ASIO custody. Or even if you give your doctor details of what has happened to you.

That scenario illustrates the many powers granted to ASIO under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2003.

at what point will you say:"you know what, we have to stop pretending we live in a democracy?"

The Porter scenario is a good one because it illustrates how the legislation applies to Australian citizens and not just non-citizens. That is a significant political shift.

Looks like a great Ad for Able Locksmiths to me.

Pretty depressing stuff on sunday night news. First the story about another silly Murdoch tabloid scare smearing Haneef, implicating the fed police. Keelty irritably denying the fed police knew anything about it or had anything to do with it.
Then Iemma, making a real idiot of himself playing Elliot Ness and bragging how he will out-do Howard in Draconionist legislation over this.

yes I see that News Limited Sunday newspapers had alleged that Haneef was being investigated over a terrorist plot to attack the Q1 residential tower on the Gold Coast. They claimed--the source was senior government sources once again --- that police were examining photographs that Haneef had taken of the building and its foundations -believed to be the Q1 skyscraper.They even claimed that Haneef was one of a group of doctors who had been learning to fly in Queensland.

The police deny the reports . This is terrorism as entertainment. It's a world of fiction based on the Howard Government making selective leaks to bolster its case.

But the police are not off the fiction hook either. Betties' Keystone cops tag is apt given that the newspaper reports the Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers wrote the names of overseas terrorism suspects in Haneef's personal diary then interrogated him over whether he had written the potentially incriminating notes.That is tampering with the evidence.---writing incriminating evidence in a suspect’s personal diary in an to attempt to further incriminate him.

The public case against Haneef has collapsed surely.

There is an extraordinary article in the Australian by Paul Kelly attacking the judiciary for defending the rule of law.

Kelly talks in terms of a way between the legal profession and the Howard Government:

It is a war the legal profession is destined to lose because of its flawed intellectual position, its engulfing hubris and the ultimate reluctance of the Australian people to accept the legal polemic about the threat to our democracy.
The bedrock view of the lawyers' rebellion is their refusal to accept the legitimacy of executive action based on statute and invoking the national interest. Insisting they know better, the lawyers offer themselves as saviours of civil liberties (but not necessarily saviours of the best interests of their clients).

He adds that the executive-judiciary struggle is entrenched beyond party politics, and that the conflict:

...reveals the depth of delusion and mad hubris beating at the heart of this legal culture. The lawyers are weak on political science. Influenced by the feeble and defective analysis of Australian governance, they actually believe the Howard Government has suppressed dissent, corrupted the political system and destroyed accountability, and they see themselves as the last line of defence...The lawyers, it seems, will say almost anything to tear down executive action.

All that is wrong on the Howard Government's side is that the Government's main problem has been incompetence feeding declining public trust.


I see Philip Ruddock, the Attorney General, as the gaoler and locksmith. He is now saying that:

some civil libertarians were prepared to say anything to achieve their ends...There are certainly some people in the legal profession, particularly those who come out of the civil liberties groups, who have a view anything goes, and you see that in the nature of the comments they make.

I thought the issue was about the rule of law and its suspension by the executive.

The legal process through which Haneef was tried is controversial, but at least it is independent, judicial, and in its way, measured. Yet once this process was responsible for bailing Haneef, the federal Government intervened, thereby politicising and inflaming the terrain to evoke the atmosphere of a war of terror . So what is at issue here is the separation of powers is to allow the judiciary to restrain politicians and over zealous police.

It's rather rich of Ruddock to accuse Haneef's lawyers of undermining terror laws by making public a transcript of Dr Haneef's police interview when seeniro Government sources have been leaking like a sieve to the Murdock tabloids to bolster their political case.

To be honest I am prepared to look the other way on the Haneef issue. Sure he seems to have been treated badly but the important issue here is the discussion that rages about him. This is a new area for us and we will eventually have to deal with Real Terrorists. So I see the whole thing a bit like a fire drill. Yes, I know thats easy for me to say because I am not locked up but thats my opinion.
As for Beattie! He is just looking for "Good Press" as he likes to call it.

on your dry run account we should then feel sorry for the Australian Federal Police, who were under such time pressure to come up with results. They need our support.

Clearly the AFP was hampered in conducting the Haneef inquiry by the legislative requirement to apply for 48-hour blocs of detention. The current UK approach is to allow up to 28 days of pre-charge detention at a secure facility. This would seem to be a much more desirable approach for Australia.

The main concern is about preventing attacks and prospective victims – and the social effects of a major terrorist attack in Australia. A consequence of not having the appropriate tough legislation is the level of carnage we saw in Bali in 2002.

So we should give the AFP the power to detain terrorism suspects for up to 28 days without charge at an Australian "Paddington Green" (the London top security police station). Even 28 days may not be enough.

That's the best way to defend liberal democracy. To reinforce this we need to clean out all the dissenting human rights professorships and centres and replace them with Professorships and Centres for Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism who will work in harrmony with the executive.

There is no grey area here or room for doubt. Moral certainity demands that we operate in terms of black and white; then or us. It's a war. So what if a few people are sacrificed. That's the price we need to pay to be safe and secure in a Hobbesian world.

The law isn't always fair.
On the day that haneef was first taken before a judge 2 cases that were tried at southport court were.
1. A 17 year old boy on learner plates was hooning around in a car with 6 other kids. he rolled the car and killed a 15 year old and a 16 year old. He was sentenced to a few moths Gaol.
2. A guy cut off his dogs 2 ears because he thought it would look good. He was sentenced to a few months Gaol.
So, does that mean that a human life is equal to one dogs ear?
The law isn't always Fair!

You are joking aren't you? You don't really expect a half intelligent adult to accept your latest post on face value, do you Gary?
"Moral certainty" demands that we retreive the rule of law to avoid remaining a dictatorship, not encourage the preconditions for more ugly, outrageous Haneef-type cases of people kidnapped off the streets.
Haneef and Hicks have been scapegoats to help prop up a self referential pitiful paradigm relating to some deliberately nebulous concept of 'terrism"; existing solely for its efficaciousness as a mass-media dog whistling technique useful for a privileged section of politics.
And the people of Australia ought to be hanging their cowardly heads in shame too, after today!

Gary is being satirical. He is attributing the views to Les.

He is ripping off actually held views eg., this article in the Brisbane Courier by Clive Williams MG, who is an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism at Macquarie University.

These guys--and they are nearly all men---even have their own journal. Unlike Gary, they are not being satirical. They are deadly serious. Have a look at the courses they offer. This is the new face of conservative academia.

your conclusion--- does that mean that a human life is equal to one dogs ear?-- inferred from the cases, does not address the core issue of the Haneef case.

The rule of law was suspended by the executive when he was given bail by the court. This case is political not just legal. It's the politics that smells not the blindness or injustice of the law.

Does anybody think that the media inferring that the Federal Police have been planting evidence by writing names in Haneefs diary is unfair to the police. I do.

Les has a point this time, unless am wrong.
Thought Keelty looked utterly irritated that politically partisan leakers ( who, we wonder? ) had again used the AFP as cover for organised leaking to Murdochs. No shame.
To me, the whining from Ruddock, Howard and Downer today seemed orchestrated. Overall a bit like witnessing a bunch of blokes trying to "rock" a bogged car free of a muddy rut.

But as far as the photo goes.
Haneef is simply trying to prevent his face from being photographed. The overalls are nothing out of the ordinary for transportation of prisoners. No shoes perhaps to do with the suicide watch. I am not sure about but I suspect there should be work place health and safety issues relating to keeping prisoners bare foot and that needs to change.
As for the colour I think it is a marvelous choice. Unlike the U.S bright orange really does cast an air of guilt I think. It makes one think of death row, prison camps, Murderers especially when a black person is wearing it.
So the future of Terrorist prison wear is definitely this light brown colour.

what the video shows is that Brisbane is a violent city, and the police are struggling to ensure law and order with the angry crazies running wild.

What has that got to do with terrorism? No one, apart from the Murdoch tabloids, is saying that Haneef planned to kill anyone.

Is that what you are suggesting?

I stand with Peter Beattie. He's calling it right.

The police are currently under pressure to explain serious discrepancies in the case against Dr Haneef as a result of the interview being publicised.

More specifically, the 142-page transcript of a record of interview between Dr Haneef and the Australian Federal Police has shown how police and prosecutors misstated evidence against Dr Haneef, and it revealed major discrepancies between what Dr Haneef told the AFP and what the AFP claimed he said.

If it's not a stuff up, then we wait for an alternative explanation. Otherwise, they should apologise.

Les does have a point in that that the Haneef case is largely a political one run by an anxious and desperate government trying to look tough on terrorism.

Their--Downer, Ruddock Howard heada are on the block, the guillotine is poised, the Greek Chorus can be heard chanting lies, lies, its all lies, the drummmers are drumming. Soon the festival will start.

What if terrorism were to happen here is the Government's message---eg., Downer--implying that Haneef indicates the likelihood of homegrown terrorism.

On the other hand, I appreciate that the police have their riding instructions. However, the police had 230 officers working on the case and what they presented cannot be taken on trust.

Nor can they be respected for misstating the evidence against Dr Haneef.

so what's up with the orange jump suit? Off to a fancy dress are we? And the bare feet? Of to the beach are we? gee Australia is such a civilsed nation.

Your politics filters your high skills in interpreting images.

The video highlights a hard job being done by police under difficult circumstances and as stated I beleive the media was unfair to them. I realise that the police in it are not federal but tarnishing one group tends to tarnish them all. Also the ad made by the police union and has been screening on Qld tv for the last couple of weeks as part of on going police union talks over fair pay claims with the Beattie Gov. Beattie met with the union reps yesterday and nothing was achieved.
I feel that Beatties statement are more to do with the Argy Bargy of this possible strike action than actually about Haneef. Beattie just likes everybody to think he is on top of everything when really he is a pratt.
Lets not forget that Haneef is in custody because he does not have a visa. Regardless of how that came about or other cases pending he does not have a visa and he is being detained.
I stand firmly with the police in this issue. They are doing the job required.

An orange jump suit would not be my style.
I would much prefer to burst into a fancy party bearded with fake dynamite strapped to my waist yelling JIHAD! JIHAD! JIHAD!

there may well be a state dimension to Beattie's comments as you say.

But Western Australia is the only bright spot for the government on a dark electoral landscape. In the two speed economy is creating WA as the Liberals land of opportunity and wealth. Currently nobody sees the government picking up seats in the other boom state of Queensland. Beattie's job, as a Labor loyalist,is to keep it that way.

He's strong on terrorism, so things must smell a lot for him to point the finger at the incompetence around terrorism issues.

its pretty clear that you, like the police and the Federal Government, are dying for a Muslim terrorist scalp. You need one to give reality to your fervent imagination about the clash of civilizations inside Australia. So like Downer + Co you have no qualms about ruining Haneef's life in the process. Necessity dictates it.

Hence your assumption--along with Downer-- that Haneef is guilty; and your support for the attempt to incriminate Haneef by playing around with the evidence.

What I see is a series of "blunders" combined with institutional thuggery. I could rework blunders into tampering with evidence if I knew more.

an article by Nicolas Stuart in the Canberra times reinforces your Beattie point.He says:

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie usually provides a pretty good indicator of the national mood. That's why, when he changes tack on the Haneef case, it makes sense to assume that something significant has changed in the way the issue is regarded at a grassroots level. After all, Beattie is a Labor premier in a state that votes solidly for the Coalition at a national level.

He gives a bit of electoral history then says that it was particularly significant when, at the end of last week, Beattie had changed his tune in the case against Dr Mohamed Haneef. He was asking the Federal Government to come clean and, if there had been a stuff-up, to admit it.

thanks for the link. It becomes ever clearer that political pressure being placed on the AFP by the Federal Government in the Haneef case.

I agree with Stuart in his assessment of the Haneef case:

It is evident that the political dynamics of Haneef's detention are not working out the way they were meant to. An inoffensive Indian doctor, who was working here to plug a gap in the Australian hospital system, doesn't immediately sound like the sort of dangerous character who would need to be locked in an armoured police van wearing a brown jumpsuit and in bare feet. Understandably, people want to feel secure and are prepared to give the Government a degree of latitude when it comes to national security issues. But once we begin to suspect there is a degree of incompetence or political opportunism in the actions of the Government, our trust rapidly disappears.

It smells. But Howard won't come clean. It's not his style. He, and his crew, will continue to attack Beattie from their fortress. And suprise suprise, Rudd follows suit. Amazing.

Yet Beattie is onto something. As Stuart says, if Beattie is asking questions about the way the Coalition is acting on national security (the Coalition's strong suit), then he must have identified a weakness in the Government's position.

I agree. Things are shifting. I see that the Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, has also described the handling of the case as "very messy", and so supported Beattie. I don't expect the Rann Government to do follow suit.Rann would follow the Howard line to increase the police's powers.