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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Ruddock’

Still not sorry

Phil of the Dead:

My view is that one should not apologise for seeking to ensure that matters that tragically occur that involve terrorist acts are thoroughly investigated to see whether or not there are any implications for Australia.

You know what? I agree with Phil.

But there’s just one problem with his argument about why an apology is not appropriate – it doesn’t apply to the Haneef case. If the “matter” had been “thoroughly investigated” before Haneef was charged and his deportation ordered, nobody would have a problem. Dr Haneef would probably still be working in an Australian hospital, and the AFP and our Government wouldn’t owe him an apology.

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Some folks are saying (contrary to the empirical evidence) that mandatory detention served as a deterrent for illegal immigration and that relaxing immigration laws is a risky proposition.

Philip Ruddock, on the other hand, says that it is because of his “Pacific solution” that the immigration laws can now be reformed:

Mr Ruddock says the current Government has its predecessor to thank for the very different circumstances.

“We have no unauthorised arrivals in any significant number, and that’s of course as a result of the policies of the previous government that managed to contain smuggling operations that were so unwelcome in relation to Australia’s border protection,” he said.

Because, apparently, it was easier to lock everybody up when there were lots more people to lock up. And now that we’ve scared everybody off, we can be nice to the refugees who attempt to reach our shores again – until, presumably, the pendulum swings back again.

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What Ruddock says is appropriate:

Mr Ruddock says it is appropriate for government officials to push along the case so long as they do not prejudice the outcome.

“If somebody from another jurisdiction were to approach me, and to argue that a matter had been before the Director of Public Prosecutions for five years and hadn’t been dealt with, I would certainly raise it with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and say ‘why hasn’t it been dealt with’?” he said.

“Not to say how it should be dealt with, but to say why hasn’t it been dealt with.”

What the chief prosecutor against Hicks says happened:

Colonel Davis says he does not know the extent of political influence but feels it was reflected in Hicks’ sentence, which will see him released from prison at the end of the year.

“I think it’s pretty clear that in our discussions with the defence about the possibility of a plea bargain, we never discussed anything close to the deal that David Hicks got,” he said.

What an unnamed source reports happened:

Another officer cited the case of David Hicks. “One of our staffers was present when Vice President Cheney interfered directly to get Hicks’s plea bargain deal. He did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with [Australian Prime Minister] Howard. I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America. And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralizing for all of us.”

It took five years for them to act, and the end result is a plea bargain that appears to have been directly orchestrated by the Vice President soon after his return from meeting John Howard in Canberra. That deal appears tailor-made to keep David Hicks out of the spotlight just long enough for Howard’s last electoral hurrah. And Philip Ruddock tells us that it was appropriate to ask for things to be hurried along.

Maybe they didn’t need to tell Dick Cheney how things needed to be dealt with. Perhaps he managed to read between the lines.

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Double Guantanamo

Remember, David Hicks pleaded guilty, so that justifies locking these guys up for years, torturing them, not letting lawyers near them, not letting them near courts, etc. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few people’s lives.

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The Corpse who Walks: "Must… Eat… Rights"

Ruddock had an opinion piece in yesterday’s SMH on the debate over whether we need a bill of rights. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Philip thinks we don’t. Interestingly, despite the title of his article “Bills of rights do not protect freedoms” – Phil does not develop an argument based on the fact that the United States’ Bill of Rights is not protecting freedoms too well at the moment.

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Following the announcement of Justice Kiefel’s appointment to the High Court, a mini-debate on political involvement in appointments to the judiciary is playing itself out in the media, with Philip Ruddock publishing a response to the position of former Chief Justice Gerard Brennan. As if the War Against States (and Territories) wasn’t enough, this new issue raises some more interesting questions about our constitutional arrangements.

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Ruddock: Mistakes didn’t upset the Haneef case

Ruddock on 7:30 tonight said that the mistakes didn’t doom the Haneef case because it was going to be too difficult to make the case anyway.

Well then, that makes the public exposure, prolonged detention, canceled visa and questioned character much more acceptable.

UPDATE: Here are the relevant quotes from Ruddock:

And the Director of Public Prosecutions came to a view – and I’m not sure that many people understand this – that the one point in which it would be difficult for him to prove was that in 2006 at the time when the relevant Act, that is the handing over a SIM card for whatever purpose, that it was not to a terrorist organisation, or at least he couldn’t prove that it was handed over to what was a terrorist organisation at that point in time.

[snip]

He made the point that the errors were regrettable, but they didn’t go to the substance of the case.

So, it seems that Haneef was charged when the evidence could not support the charge – it was not new information that resulted in the charges being dropped, but just a re-thinking of the prospects of conviction. Isn’t this still an error by the Office of the DPP?

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Presumption against bail

Ruddock on Lateline last night:

Well, what I’m prepared to explain to the Australian public is that issues that go to terrorism are of the utmost importance and we have to get a balance right between protecting people’s right to life, safety and public security, along with the other entitlements that people have to a fair trial, to being presumed innocent until a finding of guilt is determined. And we also have to ensure that there are appropriate arrangements to deal with the situation in which bail is granted.

Nice principles. Bravo.

I would have thought the more important issue for people to focus on in relation to these matters is the intention of the Parliament that there would be a presumption against bail in serious offences involving terrorism. And we legislated to do that and I think it’s appropriate and I understand that it’s a matter that the Director of Public Prosecutions is giving consideration to, the decisions that have been taken in relation to bail are properly tested. And if we find in relation to these measures, that the law that we pass that we expected would ensure that people charged with terrorism offences would have a presumption against bail is not being met, we may have to look at that matter further.

i.e., we might need to change things so that next time Kevni doesn’t have to appear arbitrary in locking people up.

I appreciate that a presumption against bail can be justified for people charged with planning or attempting to carry out a terrorist act – it’s plausible that they may attempt to follow through on those plans if released. However, for someone charged with recklessly (i.e., non-intentionally) providing support to terrorists, is the same presumption justified? In that case, the presumption of innocence should trump any perceived risk.

Anyway, Phil will fix those courts misreading his intentions.

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