Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Haneef Interview and Politicians

The release of Dr Mohamed Haneef's interview with police, as admitted by his barrister, has caused a flurry of activity and comment from our politicians. His barrister, Stephen Keim, said it was within his legal right to release the document. A copy must be provided by the police to the person interviewed: it seem logical that the copy is his. Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock, and Prime Minister John Howard both made comment on the issue, Ruddock conceding it was not illegal to release the transcript.

However, Mr Rudduck had two further responses:
  • that the government might respond by delaying the trial, keeping Haneef in detention longer; and
  • saying words to the effect that "the government might have to give advice to the courts about how to interpret the law."

Whoa! Back up there: Australia's democracy recognises the principle of the separation of powers. That is, executive government (Cabinet) should set policy and draft laws; parliament passes legislation, which is approved by the Governor-General (Governor, at state level), and laws are administered/enforced by the judiciary. It is inappropriate and unethical for politicians, let alone the Attorney-General, to suggest that *they* should tell the judiciary what to do.

It is a measure of the government's attempt to retain political control and exert their own, inappropriate, influence over the courts and the case. This case is now all about the federal government's politics. The politics they've run at previous elections: the politics of fear. It remains to be seen if it will help them in the polls - it hasn't so far.