Itâ€™s official: Australians live in Bizarro-land, where many things are the opposite of what they should be.
Bizarro-land Exhibit A:
The ABC’s Sally Neighbour criticises the Australian Federal Police for trial by media. Her piece in The Australian last Friday criticised the AFP. Just before Jack Thomasâ€™s first trial, his lawyers encouraged him to rehabilitate his tattered reputation through interviews with the ABC and The Age.
In those 2005 interviews â€“ aired in early 2006 at the conclusion of his trial, Thomas admitted to receiving $3500 in cash and an airplane ticket from senior al-Qaiâ€™da member, Khaled bin Attach in early 2003. This admission was a confession on Australian soil – not in the legal backwater of Pakistan â€“ keeping in mind that Thomasâ€™ conviction was overturned in August 2006 as the Court of Appeal found the original interview was induced improperly.
When Peter Faris QC suggested the ABC should have coughed up the interview to the authorities, Neighbour claims the AFP already knew about it. Jim Kennan SC, former Deputy Premier and Thomasâ€™s lawyer called for a Bill of Rights to protect naive people like Thomas who, according to Kennan, was trying to stop the civil war in Afghanistan…. silly lad.
It is only after Thomasâ€™s conviction was overturned, that the Crown announced it would seek a re-trail based on his interviews with Four Corners and The Age newspaper. In short having failed to obtain a terrorism conviction lawfully by conventional means, the commonwealth authorities resorted to a new form of trial by media, a first in Australian law.
He confessed on camera. Not really a trial by media at all.
Neighbour knows a trial-by-media when she sees one. Remember the Four Corners hatchet job (1997) on the then Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett falsely accusing him of insider trading and corruption.
(By the way, Thomas was found guilty of falsifying a passport â€“ the cruel injustice of it all.)
Bizarro-land Exhibit B:
The AFP found jihadist material on Dr Haneefâ€™s laptop and purchased documents for a SIM card linked to the terror incidents in Glasgow and London in June 2005. His defence says the possession of documents reinforced his innocence. Innocent people, of course, are always purchasing one way tickets to India while being investigated by the AFP. Haneefâ€™s action never deepened suspicions. And if you believe that, there’s a SIM card I’d love to sell you.
Interestingly Haneefâ€™s fellow medico, Mohammed Asif Ali, was interviewed but never fled the country during those fog-of-war weeks. I use the word â€˜medicoâ€™ generously as Ali left Australia because he had falsified his medical credentials.
Yes, the AFP and the DPP did not cover themselves in glory but the AFP as Patrick Walters stated had real grounds to worry about Haneefâ€™s bona fides. Yes, lawyers for Haneef are right in providing him the best legal defence possible.
The litmus tests for the Haneef controversy, nevertheless, are these: if there were more bloody terrorist attacks in the UK last year killing many innocent commuters, would the â€˜stop besmirching nice Dr Haneefâ€™ movement have any legs? And, wouldnâ€™t the Australian Parliament be giving greater powers, not fewer, to counter-terrorist agencies?
Meanwhile the Green Left Weekly acknowledged approvingly the efforts of so-called Liberal MP Petro Georgiou to introduce a bill to have the same agencies oversighted by an independent reviewer.
Bizarro-land Exhibit C:
Why have there been no convictions in the NT against pederast rapists of Indigenous kids? In part, it can be explained by the fact that medicos are refusing to pass on information to authorities, namely the names and addresses of minors receiving contraceptive implants. A NT judge has defended the doctors and nurses of NTD8 clinics for not discussing their clientsâ€™ cases with the Australian Crime Commission. Justice Reeves ruled the ACC were not putting the interest of children first.
(Congratulations, by the way, to Jenny Macklin for keeping compulsory income management and for putting the interests of children first)
To those â€˜human rightsâ€™ lawyers and press gallery types who cannot see pass the solipsism of their disciplines as defenders of the weak against the strong, recall what an Italian writer of note once observed:
Hence it comes about that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed.