I’ve been at meetings today, so I haven’t had a chance to keep up with all the commentary on this case. But I have a couple of observations, or maybe questions.
First, it appears that the Minister for Immigration now has the power to seize and detain indefinitely anyone in Australia who is not a permanent resident (or maybe anyone who is not a citizen, or maybe anyone at all). All that is required is to revoke their visa, on the (non-reviewable?) grounds that they are not of good character, and then delay the implied deportation indefinitely. Can this be true?
Second, the evidence that is publicly available goes nowhere near justifying this decision. All we know is that Haneef gave his SIM card to his cousin, and that (as I interpret the charge against him) the government alleges that he ought to have suspected that the cousin was a terrorist. The Minister hints that there is a lot more that he knows and we don’t. But, given this government’s track record, isn’t it equally likely that the decision was taken purely in the hope that Labor could be wedged between concern for civil liberties and fear of terrorism?