Kevin Rudd is a capital O opportunist politician. There is little that he won’t say or do to get elected as Prime Minister later this year, and one has to interpret his and his Party’s cowardliness on the case of Mohammed Haneef over the past few weeks in this context.
Mr Rudd, his Deputy Julia Gillard and the Shadow Attorney-General Joe Ludwig – yes despite rumours to the contrary Labor actually does have a person who is meant to hold A-G Philip Ruddock accountable, it just that he appears to have his mouth well and truly taped up by Mr Rudd’s office – have refused to condemn the Howard government’s perversion of the rule of the law in the Haneef case.
Mr Rudd called yesterday for more comprehensive briefings from the government on the Haneef case. In other words, calculating Kevin wants to fish around and see if there is any material that might embarrass the Howard government and on the back of which he can score cheap political points. Forget about the treatment of Dr Haneef – Labor couldn’t give a toss.
A fortnight ago Crikey issued a challenge for any federal, State or territory ALP MP to contact us if they disagreed with their Party’s silence on the Haneef case. What a surprise that not one MP has taken up the challenge and decided to put human rights principle before political expediency. The nearest anyone in the ALP has come to standing up for Haneef has been Tasmanian federal MP Duncan Kerr and his colleagues Tanya Plibersek from New South Wales and Warren Snowden from the NT.
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But if you were the Howard government you wouldn’t call their statements over the weekend on the Haneef matter exactly excoriating. Mr Kerr said he has been “reassured” that “the parts of civil society we rely on for rule of law, those lawyers with courage, the press — these matters are being exposed to public scrutiny.” Yeah, pity your colleagues Senator Ludwig and Mr Rudd, don’t show some of that courage, Duncan.
And speaking of courage, where the hell was the Law Council of Australia last week when Dr Haneef’s barrister Stephen Keim was being bullied by Mr Ruddock and AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty over his leaking of Dr Haneef’s record of interview to The Australian? According to Law Council Chair Tim Bugg, in this morning’s Australian, the Law Council will not be cowered by Mr Ruddock’s attacks on lawyers. Bugg tells The Australian that the Law Council of Australia is not going to stop “speaking out about issues involving the infringement of individual rights.”
Well when Stephen Keim was having his rights infringed last week the Law Council was strangely silent, as it has been on the AFP and Commonwealth’s lawyers mishandling of Dr Haneef’s case.