Howard will sustain some collateral damage from the incompetent c*ck-up which is now the Haneef Affair. But at the moment, there is no smoking political gun which leads back to the government.
Kevin Andrews is trying to change all that. Andrews seems to be determined to join Keelty and Bugg in being responsible. As we know, Andrews made his decision to revoke Haneef’s visa immediately after Haneef was granted bail, thus preventing Haneef’s release.
The Left immediately cried foul and said this was blatant political interference. Of course, this is what the Left always does – and sooner or later, as a matter of chance, they will get it right. Even a broken clock etc. Yet the Left may have got it right for once.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
When Andrews revoked the work visa, he said that it was on character grounds and not related to the bail decision. He said that he relied upon the evidence in the criminal case (which has now collapsed) and secret national security information.
So far, so good. Haneef therefore was a dangerous terrorist who, according to classified information, must be locked up at all costs. But when the criminal case collapsed last Friday, Andrews immediately released Haneef by way of a residential visa. Then he let him leave the country. This later conduct of Andrews throws grave doubt upon his earlier decision and its implication that Haneef was a terrorist who must be isolated.
I think there is a real prospect that Haneef will win in the Federal Court and his work visa will be reinstated. If that occurs, there is no room for any explanation other than blatant political interference by Andrews. Andrews will be sacked but Howard will wear the blame.
Howard’s election claim that his government would handle terror matters better than Rudd would then be in tatters.