“If the US can’t
give him a fair trial now, we should do it or set him free,” Liberal MP and
former minister Danna Vale wrote in an op-ed in The Age on Saturday. Big stuff – and the yarn ran fairly big that morning, but didn’t
really have legs.

Poor old Danna. The last time she had a big idea, it
got fairly short shrift, too. Not that it was the best idea – recreating
Gallipoli as a theme park on Victoria’s
Mornington Peninsula.

That sorta kinda confirmed opinions that Vale had
been a pretty bloody useless Veterans Affairs minister
– the minister who was too busy to attend an RSL conference. Then, of course,
there was the matter of that letter to our friend Alan Jones…

Which may all be a bit rough. Vale is one of the Class of 1996 and once a Prime Ministerial pet. She took Keating
minister Robert Tickner’s seat of Hughes,
south of Sydney, Labor since 1969, and has turned it into safe Liberal
territory. She’s been regarded as a good local MP – plugged in and a hard

Vale has also rocked the boat before. Back in 2000,
she threatened to cross the floor unless the Commonwealth used its powers to
overrule the Northern Territory’s
mandatory sentencing policies that led to an Aboriginal kid charged with petty
theft committing suicide in custody.

It was a
good cause. Your average Martin Place busker raises more revenue each
year than the NT Treasury. It’s hopelessly reliant on Commonwealth funds, and
why should our taxes go to indulge rednecks’ racism and the failure of their
own policing policies?

Vale won.
The then attorney general Daryl
Williams ended up providing $1 million for diversionary programs and $250
thousand for an Aboriginal interpreter service.

And while our own little bit of Taletrash seems to
be thick as a brick and a creep to boot, Vale seems to be on strong ground over
Hicks, too.

Minister Alexander Downer said on the weekend that while was entitled to her
opinion, there would be no special treatment for the terror suspect. “Why would
we make some special arrangements for somebody who has been training with Al
Qaeda and is facing charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes and attempted
murder that we wouldn’t make for someone who is up on drugs charges in
Argentina or somewhere?” he was reported as asking on the ABC.

thickhead answered his own question. Hicks, dear Alexander, whatever his
faults, has already been singled out for very special treatment – treatment in
violation of international treaties and the norms liberal democracies such as
Australia and the United States supposedly subscribe to and draw their moral
authority from upholding.

“someone who is up on drugs charges in Argentina or somewhere,” dear, dumb Foreign
Minister, would have enjoyed the benefit of due process. Hicks hasn’t.