Saturday, January 31, 2009

Haneef Cleared, Andrews Thinks He Was

Originally posted 23-Dec-2008 at

An inquiry established by Kevin Rudd, and conducted by retired NSW judge John Clarke QC, has found no evidence to link Dr Mohamed Haneef to the attempted terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow which led to his arrest in July 2007. He is reported to be satisfied with the finding, and considering a claim for compensation.

Kevin Andrews, now a Federal Opposition MP, but then Immigration Minister in John Howard’s government, was cleared of making an “improper” decision. Nevertheless, John Clarke’s report says he was “mystified” about the basis of Mr Andrews’ decision. In his response, Mr Andrews said he acted in “the national interest”, and it was about “national security”. Consider the following:
  • the inquiry found no sound basis for Mr Andrews’ decision to cancel Dr Haneef’s (working) visa, and to deport him.

  • the phrases “national interest” and “national security” are NOT magic. They do not, and ought not, allow Ministers to use the phrases to make unfounded, or at the very least questionable, decisions. Their use by Mr Andrews is simply “spin” to justify his actions with the public, while avoiding any valid arguments to justify them.
Even if, as Mr Andrews claims, “The Australian people expected me to act”, that is not a justification for so doing! You would not want a doctor to use a particular treatment, just because ‘the patient expected me to do that’. That would not be evidence-based medicine. What Mr Andrews did was not evidence-based decision-making either.

Ministerial decisions need to be made on the basis of logic, reason, and verifiable evidence. Political advisers and media advisers (”spin doctors”) are too often a hindrance to that.