July 18, 2007

burnside qc

over the years rg has had the inspiring privilege of watching and listening to the shimmering brilliance that is julian burnside qc full flight in the federal court. in another life rg will dedicate a blog to burnside's stillness, composure, wit, sharpness, integrity and glasses, but for the time being will just share an article from today's age written by the straight talker himself.

a case of justice denied, burnside's precis of the mohamed haneef case to date, is marked with the thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and political savvy for which he is renowned. burnside's willingness, nay obligation, to pull no punches re the afp, immigration minister, attorney-general and pm is as educational as it is refreshing, and a move entirely befitting the president of liberty victoria. burnside concludes his opinion with:

the implications of the haneef case are very alarming. it is another indication of what the howard government is prepared to do, especially in an election year. the immigration minister is willing to lend himself to the police. the attorney-general is willing to take advantage of the minister's impropriety. haneef's ability to defend himself has been wilfully compromised.

the character of any government can be measured by the way it treats those who are powerless. this government will use every dirty trick to crush haneef, regardless of his guilt or innocence. in the war to save democracy we are at risk of throwing away its most important features.

not only that, but rg feels the government would likely fail their own character test were it applied; the thought of deporting howard et al is too thrilling a proposition to indulge.

in a social and political climate such as ours currently, rg has moments of total loss of faith in humanity and can only see the chronic ugliness that stems from that; then there's moments of promise, hope and burnside, and for a moment at least rg feels there is a vibrant, intelligent and voracious culture alive and well in australia. how did i ever doubt it...


Mark D Osborne said...

The Haneef question left me as angry and impotent as I felt when the terrorist legislation was first introduced and I finally realised that it by-passed the habeus corpus regulations that America enjoys. What we don't have in Australia, but we think we do, on the understanding that we have the same freedoms as the country that predominates the legal drama on our TVs, we do not have a Miranda right, we do not have a bill of rights, and we do not have a freedom of speech. The government is filling in the finer points and testing them as we speak. We do not stop the government from creating case law with their new regulations because they are testing it on foreigners and people with a minority religion in this country. They are using our racism against us, and making us look, as a country, as people who do not care about the rights of people who are different. Please see humans as equal, Australians. When a pasty scared white guy thinks the government is doing the wrong thing, they should take action to change to legislation. We have more similarities with each other than we do differences. Bullies get power from dividing people. Peace.

RG - parental politico said...

passionately put, mark. bullies get power from dividing people; they also get it from grinding them down over time. it's devastating to think people are only now starting to pay attention because something so obviously criminal is happening before them - it's like the scene in 'the time machine' when everyone is living in what they think is utopia and some poor sod gets carried downstream screaming for help but nobody does because they (a) don't know what 'help' is, and (b) they don't think about anyone's needs but their own - so much so they happily sacrifice each other when the siren goes to get eaten by the monsters. not a good end.

so the moral of this is, help someone when they need it; don't be so consumed in your own life that you don't see the hurt and crisis of others; be conscious of the political monsters in the cave wanting to consume you when you challenge or disobey.

howard, ruddock et al, what monsters they are, consuming rights and freedoms with insatiable appetite. rg feels this is a case of fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me - rights and liberties have been whittled away thanks to great governmental spin re the threat of the 'other' - whether that's 'boat people' or terrorists in general. i think people now have a clearer view of what's going on and are starting to see the ugliness of oppression in the public 'interest'.

peace is an admirable concept and goal. rg would currently settle for a bit of fairness and respect; seeds of intention and all that.

Anonymous said...

A little predictable from Burnside who makes a living out of the ‘human rights’ industry. An industry that is only interested in the rights of handful of potential terrorists, not the rights of the 21 million other Australians. You will never see a comment from an organ like Liberty Victoria on the human rights of the Bali victims, on freedom of religious expression for minority faiths in Islamic counties, on women rights in Saudi Arabia, on denial of education for girls under the Taliban, on female circumsion, I could go on forever. So stop lecturing us with your extremist views. You need to get out and see what’s happening in the big wide world.

I do feel deepily sorry for Mohamed Haneef in that his case has been hijacked by the extreme Left. But there are far greater human rights abuses out there where you will never see the Left. It reminds me of those nauseating rent-a-mob protests that appear every so often around Swanston Street piggybacking on the latest ‘human rights’ cause. Why don’t this mob protest about Burma, Tibet, Rwanda, Sudan. Why are these extremists so selective in their ‘human rights’ causes? Because they are only interested in ‘human rights’ as long as it presents a convenient cover to target the Liberal government or George Bush. In reality the mob are far less interested in human rights than people of more moderate political views.

RG - parental politico said...

thanks for your comment, anon.

right you are; there's a quagmire of human rights abuses across the planet. however support or protest for one particular cause does not automatically exclude concern or compassion for another. it boils down to awareness - something generally defined by the larger, popular media, and usually in sound-bite form.

from rg's experience, the rent-a-mob protesters you refer to jumping on the human rights bandwagon every so often have been a mix of lefties, joe and jane average citizen, dogs, kids, the elderly and disabled...a strong representation of community, not just lefties out to get the liberal government or bush through a "convenient cover".

so why do these people take to the streets? rg believes it's because the public are concerned about the human rights of the 21 million people in this country. regrettably it takes a case like dr haneef's to bring home the reality of what our rights are - it's often the case that you don't know what you have, or what's at risk, until you see it threatened or taken away. haneef's case created so much public outrage (not just 'left' outrage) for this simple fact alone; it's obvious to blind freddy that he was treated poorly and the new laws each one of us are open to being subjected to are flawed.

why don't people protest the sudan, burma, tibet et al? rg's guess is because it's not widely reported - that said, ignorance is no excuse. but people do need to feel a connection to something in order to react, otherwise it's easy to dismiss. a focus needs to shift from bagging people/groups for not doing enough to raising awareness by exposing and promoting what they actually do - groups like liberty victoria, amnesty international, red cross...all with a niche and a specific focus.

i doubt 'selectivity' of support comes into it. what rg does believe strongly comes into it is a fundamental sense of what is right and what is wrong - it shouldn't matter if you're left, right or somewhere in between, and it doesn't matter if there's libs at the helm or labor. to suggest people protest simply because of who's head honcho of the country is insulting to 21 million people.