Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No Smoking Gun

Well, that was Andrews' last shot. Apparently, it was the best he had.

Let's look at what he had:

  • information that was available to the prosecutor who decided there was no case to answer
  • highly selective and suggestive quotations, presented outside of the context in which they occurred
  • evidence of Dr Haneef wanting to flee on July 2.
  • highly questionable paraphrasing of source material

Perhaps as revealing is what we haven't seen:

  • the full context of the excerpts he used
  • Dr Haneef's explanations for these conversations
  • any evidence that Dr Haneef knew of his cousins involvement in a plot prior to July 2
  • a persuasive argument for why it was necessary to truncate Dr Haneef's presumption of innocence by cancelling Dr Haneef's visa within hours of favourable bail decision being granted.

Andrews' claims that the pretext of wanting to visit his wife and child was a false pretext and this implied he had prior knowledge of the plot. He gives no weight at all to the possibility that Dr Haneef's actions on July 2 were consistent both with a desire to see his family and the fear of being wrongfully being persecuted as a terrorist, fears that appear quite rational given the subsequent events.

Questions For Kevin Andrews

  1. do the authorities possess any material which shows that Dr Haneef had near-term plans to return to India prior to July 1, 2007?
  2. will you release the transcript of the 2nd police interview?
  3. do the police have transcripts of voice calls or online chats for periods prior to bombing?
  4. if so, do any of these transcripts contain material that suggest Dr Haneef knew of the plot?
  5. was Dr Haneef questioned by police about the quotes you have used?
  6. what were his responses?
  7. will you release the full transcript of the chat room conversations?

The absurdist magician waves his magic wand again

On Tuesday, Kevin Andrews stated:

This process has been overseen by the judiciary at every step. The investigation and the timing of it, the amount of time that people could question Dr Haneef was all under the direction of a magistrate. Secondly, there was a bail hearing in which the magistrate made a decision. And thirdly, the director of public prosecutions personally reviews the whole case. There's been a review of this process all the way through.

Having distorted facts (age of baby), contorted facts (prompt departure), the magician is now making facts disappear. The keen observer will note that between his helpfully numbered second and third points Andrews manages to completely elide his exercise of arbitrary executive power that subverted the magistrate's bail decision and truncated Dr Haneef's presumption of innocence.

I now fully expect to see a naked Kevin Andrews conduct a future press conference supremely confident that his masterful cloaking spell will protect his modesty.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Adopting Alexander Downer's excellent suggestion

In this age of unnecessary wars against the UN-funded clients of our wheat farmers, it is entirely understandable that we need strong anti-terrorism laws. What has yet to be adequately explained by the proponents of these laws is why the Australian people need to delegate the function of performing character assessments of our guests to a posse of vindicative witch-burners whose ability to observe facts, let alone logically reason about them, is severely and suspiciously deficient.

However, if we must, in the name of national security, accept this debased state of affairs, why can't we also adopt Alexander Downer's excellent suggestion and witness the occasional apology complete with "falling on the ground...grovelling, eating dirt"?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Taking some pleasure from Rudd's utter lack of principle

Much as I am disgusted by Kevin Rudd's utter lack of principle with respect to the Kevin Andrews visa cancellation decision, the vindicative bastard in me has to say, it does set Howard up for a deliciously ironic defeat.

Admittedly, it would be far better for the health of Australian democracy if a political leader could ride to victory on the back of a platform of solid moral principle. Unfortunately the Australian people get the political leaders we deserve and it appears we don't deserve anyone more principled than Kevin Rudd.

Yet, if Howard has to go down, then how appropriate that he should be brought to his knees by tactics worthy of his own brand of political bastardry.

As Alan Ramsay and Paul Kelly have pointed out, Rudd will not be wedged and it is driving Howard et al to dispair - witness Andrews ludicrous attacks on Rudd and Gillard for supporting the Howard government's own positions.

Good riddance, Johnny.

Witch burning repackaged

It is somewhat fitting that our Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews, a man known for his deeply conservative, pro-family, Christian values, should be offering up a modern day example of that fine Christian practice - witch burning.

On Saturday, when asked whether he objected to Mohamed Haneef's decision to return to India to visit his mother, wife and new-born, Minister Andrews stated:

"After taking advice, including from the Australian Federal Police, I have indicated that the Commonwealth has no objection to Dr Haneef leaving Australia. Indeed the effect of the visa cancellation is that he should remove himself, he should depart Australia in any event." [ref]

Understandably, Minister Andrews did not find it appropriate to praise Dr Haneef for the concern he showed for his family, particularly his ailing mother who, it is said, has not taken this episode well. But in any event, the Minister was correct. Under the terms of the Australian law, Dr Haneef was obliged to depart Australia since his work visa had been cancelled. Admittedly, he is also entitled to stay around for the appeal, but that's a minor detail which a deeply embarassed minister of the crown, eager to see the back of Dr Haneef, might understandably neglect to mention.

Which leaves those of us who do not comprehend the complicated inner workings of the Christian moral calculus to ponder how it was that just a day later, Minister Andrews was able to state that Dr Haneef's departure "heightened, rather than lessened" his suspicions as to the correctness of his assessment of Dr Haneef's alleged bad character. [ref]

Either Dr Haneef's departure is evidence that Dr Haneef was respectfully observing the laws of the commonwealth, or it is evidence of his bad character - it can't be both.

Witch (sic) is it Minister?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

An open letter to Kevin Andrews

When considering whether to reverse your decision to cancel Dr Mohamed Haneef's visa I would implore you to give very serious consideration to the expectations of the Australian community.

The Australian community, I believe, is one that strongly believes in the notion of a fair go. A fair go is not a partisan concept. It is not a Liberal concept, it is not a Green concept it is not a Labor concept. It is an Australian concept that every man and woman on the street, Christian or Atheist, Muslim or Buddhist, understands.

By the dictates of this concept, you should strongly consider whether your original decision to preempt the outcome of his trial by cancelling his visa was fair. You should consider whether, in light of the complete collapse of the prosecution case against him, the cancellation is still fair.

If you can't find it within yourself to give Dr Haneef a fair go, consider whether it is fair to the base political objectives of your own side of politics to continue burdening it with a completely laughable position.

Once you have done this, please also give very serious consideration to the question of resigning your position as Minister and as Member of Parliament as a small gesture of apology to the Australian people for causing us such deep embarrassment.

Sir, I believe you have failed your character test and it only right that you correct your mistakes and then do the honourable thing and resign - Ian Campbell resigned for less, much less.

Your Sincerely,

Jon Seymour

Some advice for the Minister of Immigration

According to Peter White's advice to the Minister of Immigration, dated 16th of July, it would appear the national interest test that the Minister is relying on the justify his decision to cancel Dr Mohamed Haneef's visa is the clause relating to the "expectations of the Australian community". In particular, the advice states:

"The Australian community may expect that a non-citizen who has had an association with persons suspected of involvement in an act of terrorism and who has been charged with an offence of providing resources to a terrorist organisation, including those persons, would have their visa cancelled"

I would have thought the expectation of the Australian community could be more succinctly expressed this way: "Give the bloke a fair go, you bastards".

Leunig gives us a history lesson...

From this week's Age...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still fuming at the spineless Labor party...

Your editorial and Gerard Henderson's article ("Rudd won't escape Haneef fallout", July 24) highlight the problem with Kevin Rudd's me-too-ism. After watching Labor march lock step with the Government last week away from the presumption of innocence, I will no longer distribute my preference to Labor in the House of Representatives.

This may seem like a foolhardy thing to do given my distaste for the Government, however, given the alternative, does it really matter? For too long Labor has been taking support of progressively minded voters for granted. Perhaps Rudd thinks he doesn't need us this time. If so, he won't miss our vote.

I will still distribute my preferences to Labor in the Senate, but only because I think Labor's political cynicism can be relied upon to exert some measure of restraint over the Government should we find ourselves in the unfortunate circumstance of having to endure another three years of Liberal rule.

Letters, SMH, 27th July 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Labor should be held accountable for their part in the Haneef farce

originally posted as a comment @ The Road To Surfdom

The Labor party needs to be held accountable for their part in this farce. What good is a briefing based on secret information if the AFP can’t even get the basics right with facts that are (or will shortly be) in the public domain.

Why should we trust that executive decisions based entirely on secret information will be any more soundly based than those based on public information when they can’t even get those right?

Kevin Andrews' action was a violation of the principle of natural justice unless he has very strong evidence that Haneef was part of a plot that represented an imminent danger to the Australian public. Nothing in the publicly available information suggests this is so.

If we trusted the executive to behave responsibly then we could perhaps put some weight on the so-called sensitive information. However, this government has long since lost the right to deserve that trust.

The Labor party was fundamentally wrong to endorse Minister Andrews' actions under a fully legal and fully draconian immigration law. They should have withheld judgment about the merits of Kevin Andrew’s claims of bad character until such time as they were substantiated with publicly available information. They certainly should not have endorsed the premature truncation of Haneef’s presumption of innocence. By law, and by the terms of natural justice, this can only occur when the accused is found guilty in a court of law - not before.

The Labor party was hoping to deny the Liberals a wedge issue so they abandoned the principle of presumption of innocence. Now that this case has descended into farce, they are left to wallow in the government’s cesspit and wonder about the what if’s of defending central principles of western jurisprudence and democracy.

Haneef case descends into farce

As the Haneef case descends into farce, so passes a golden opportunity to drive the final nail into the coffin of an over-ripe corpse.

Had the Labor party acted with principle on this matter in the first place and refused to endorse the prejudicial actions of Kevin Andrews, the Labor party might have been in a fine position to make political capital out of this farce. For there is no crime, moral or otherwise, in making political capital out of farce.

It is, on the other hand, a sin against natural justice in using another's liberty as a pawn in a political game. Both the ALP and the Liberal Party are patently guilty of this sin.

The ALP can try to defend the moral high ground now, if they dare. Perhaps people won't notice the foul smelling mud dripping from their clothes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Who needs the presumption of innocence when you can have guilt by association?

I have been quite appalled by the Australian Labor Party's cowardly stance with respect to the Mohamed Haneef case in particular, and the question of Australia's draconian anti-terror laws in general.

Nothing that has been published, including the 142 page transcript of Haneef's first interview with police, lends any weight to the charge that this man is a terrorist who represents a danger to the Australian people. Yet his economic life has been destroyed and his liberty denied.

On the other hand, we are witnessing a government who is asserting its right to deny natural justice to whom ever it pleases in the name of political expediency. And worse, we have an Opposition which gladly connives with the government in the name of denying them a wedge issue.

These acts by our political leaders, not the passing of a SIM between family members in the dim-dark past, are a dire threat to Australia's democratic values.

Make no mistake. A firm wedge has been placed. It is a wedge between the political mainstream and questions of principle and natural justice.

Through its actions, the Australian Labor Party has placed itself firmly on the wrong side of the wedge.

It does not deserve and will not receive my preference in the forth coming national election.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007



I was dining alone at Blackbird this evening, while working on some Java code.

Across from me there were two tables. At one table sat two girls, at the other a guy and two girls. I thought I noticed one of the girls at the first table glancing at me, but I wasn't sure. Anyway, they got up and left eventually.

As I was eating my dessert, I noticed one of the girls at the second table looking in my direction. Eventually I caught her eye and then a smile. Sure enough, she was looking at me. Exciting.

At one point she gets up and goes somewhere - presumably to the ladies. When she comes back she steals a glance in my direction, which I meet with a smile. She continues to steal glances in my direction then reaches for her wallet and gets up again. Her friends notice she has gone. In a few moments she comes back with a packet of cigarettes which she puts in her bag.

We continue stealing glances at each other and during one such moment, I mouth "Pontoon" while gesticulating with my finger in the direction of "Pontoon" the bar. She smiles and nods. Then she gets up again and disappears behind me. 3rd time. I figure I _have_ to get up and follow this time. After a discreet delay I get up too and head in the direction I think she has headed - towards the lavatories. I wait around a few moments, hoping she will appear but when she doesn't I head back to the table. Eventually she returns to her table.

I order another cognac which eventually arrives. The glances and smiles continue, but then I run out of cognac and then my battery runs out. This leaves me in the embarrassing position of not having anything to pretend to be doing.

So, I pull an old tram ticket from my wallet and when I catch her eye again, I slip the ticket under the salt and pepper shaker on the table. She smiles. The only problem - I don't have a pen with which to scribble my name and phone number. No problem. I'll use the pen that the waiter gives me when he brings the bill.

The bill arrives and I hand the waiter my credit card. He returns with the receipt and a pen but instead of leaving the bill for me to sign, he stands in front of me while I sign it. Very unusual for Blackbird, because they usually disappear for ages. I think all the cognac I had been drinking made him nervous that I was going to scarper without paying!

The fact that he is standing around flusters me a bit. So I gesture that I want to speak to him and ask him to see that the tram ticket doesn't disappear from the table until she leaves.

I sign the credit card receipt and hand the receipt and pen back to him. He disappears. I then realise that I haven't written my name and number on the tram ticket


She catches my eye again and I gesticulate with hands raised in exasperation as I search desperately for a pen in my bag. Of course, I don't have one. So I start giggling and she does too.

So I decide there is nothing else for it. I am going to have to say something to her as I leave. I get up and as I walk by her table, I say: "I have only one thing to say: Pontoon.". She says: "Pontoon?". I say "Pontoon", laugh and then leave.

So, I head to Pontoon and wait around for 30 minutes or so, hoping she will appear. Sadly, she doesn't.