Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fear mongering

Over the past two weeks I've followed with interest the case of a doctor in Brisbane detained in connection with the attempted terrorist attack on Glasgow airport.

I had hoped for an approach that strikes a better balance between the rule of law and security than we've seen in the United States' "war on terror."

No such luck. Not only was Dr Haneef detained for twelve days without charge, he was finally charged with 'providing aid to terrorists' because he gave his mobile phone SIM card to his cousin when he left England to move to Australia (presumably because it was no longer of any use to him).

Unless there is some other compelling piece of evidence against this guy that isn't being reported (and I'm pretty sure if there was the Australian Government would be shouting it from the rooftops), then we are living in a world, at least in the US and Australia, where the most innocent act can land you in jail for 'aiding terrorism'.

That's one of the basic aspects of a totalitarian state - that no behaviour is beyond the reach or the arbitrary sanction of the state, which keeps the populace in a state of perpetual fear and compliance.

Notwithstanding that, the Prime Minister is making veiled suggestions that Australia's terrorism laws need to be strengthened. Perhaps he wants to take a leaf out of his mate George W's book and set up a gulag on some remote island beyond the reach of troublesome courts. More likely he's just talking tough as part of his re-election strategy. After all it worked for him last time with the Tampa incident.

What a fear mongering little bastard our Prime Minister is.

Update (midnight): I thought for a moment that my worst fears where unfounded when a magistrate granted Haneef bail on a $10,000 surety. But only until the Federal Government promptly cancelled his visa so that they could detain him under the Migration Act.

This is a breathtaking abuse of power designed purely to invalidate the ruling of a court.

Firstly, immigration detention is designed for people who are in breach of their immigration status and are a risk of failing to appear for immigration proceedings.

Secondly, if he's in breach of his immigration status that's only because the government just cancelled his visa!

Thirdly, there are no immigration proceedings since the Government has no intention of deporting him before he stands trial.

Finally, he's now the most watched man in Australia so the chances of him absconding are about zero as the magistrate rightly observed.

All consistent with my original conclusion that this is nothing more than a cynical ploy by the Prime Minister and his henchmen( Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews) to whip up hysteria so they can frighten the public into voting for them again.

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