Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews’ attempt late yesterday to justify his decision to cancel Dr Haneef’s visa was hamfisted. And it raises more disturbing questions about the Haneef case.
But first things first. Crikey has been told today that despite it being standard practice around Australia for the Police, in serious criminal matters, to provide a suspect’s legal advisers with a transcript of the record of interview conducted with their client shortly after the interview took place, that has not been done in this case.
It is now over two weeks since Dr Haneef’s second record of interview was conducted, and yet the AFP/Queensland Police have not made a transcript available to Dr Haneef’s lawyers. One would have thought that, given the poor publicity received by the AFP/Queensland Police in this case, they would have attended to this matter promptly.
How convenient that Minister Andrews is able to smear Dr Haneef over chat room conversations, while Dr Haneef’s lawyers and the media are still waiting for a transcript of the record of interview where the issues of these same conversations were put to Dr Haneef by the investigators.
Not only that, but Crikey can reveal that Mr Andrews’ use of the evidence of Dr Haneef’s chat room conversations with his relatives in the UK as proof that he failed to pass the good character provisions of the Migration Act is not consistent with the way the material was used by Commonwealth prosecutors.
When the chat room material was put by the Commonwealth prosecutor during the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court bail hearing on 16 July it was not asserted that it showed evidence of guilt on Dr Haneef’s part, but simply that he may be a flight risk if given bail.
That Mr Andrews is now misleading the Australian public on the chat room material is also evident by virtue of the fact that he didn’t impose a condition on Dr Haneef as part of his residential detention order that Dr Haneef was not to communicate with his relatives under suspicion for terrorist activities in the UK. The only condition was that Dr Haneef maintain contact with the Immigration Department.
Despite some media outlets thinking Mr Andrews’ explanation holds water, the reality is that once again the Howard government is being, shall we say, economical with the truth.
In fact, Mr Andrews’ media conference reminded one of the sanctimonious performances of the Prime Minister and Mr Ruddock in the dying days of the 2001 election, when they wrongly accused asylum seekers of throwing their children overboard.