The furore over the handling of Haneef – let alone AFP chief Mick Keelty’s views on the media and terrorism – may have died down for now, but the Rudd Government has learned the lessons.

If ever there was a case when the old spin doctor’s maxim of “one message, one messenger” should have applied, it was Haneef.

Instead, every minister and media minder who could get into the game, did: Prime Minister Howard; Attorney-General Ruddock; Immigration Minister Andrews; Foreign Minister Downer; even Health Minister Abbott.

It was a classic example of a government in its death throes, with everyone gasping for the last gulps of political and media oxygen.

But that was only the political players. Departmental spinners were in on the game, along with the AFP and various courts and other government bodies and authorities. Then there was everyone at the Queensland end. And Haneef’s counsel and supporters.

The Rudd Government has noticed just how messy it all got. Crikey understands that a major clean out of departmental media liaisons is now underway. Along with this there will will be a centralisation of just who can talk on matters of national security.

Top departments have been targeted: Prime Minister & Cabinet; Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Attorney-General’s.

AFP media has been regarded as problematic some time. A clean out is expected there, too.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey