Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Prime Minister says ALP is 'playing a double game' in case of terrorism suspect Mohamed Haneef.

Download WordDownload Word



This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Parliamentary Library.


It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in an y other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.


For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.





Mon day 23 July 2007

Prime Minister says ALP is 'playing a double game' in case of terrorism suspect Mohamed Haneef


MARK COLVIN: The Federal Government has tried to deflect criticism of its handling of the case against Mohamed Haneef by turning the attention back to Labor. 


The Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has attacked both the Queensland Premier and the Federal Opposition leader, accusing Peter Beattie of acting as a mouthpiece for Kevin Rudd. 


Mr Beattie is one of the few senior Labor figures to publicly criticise the handling of the case by the Australian Federal Police and the Government. Federal Labor has been reluctant to enter into the debate. 


In Brisbane, Kathryn Roberts reports. 


KATHRYN ROBERTS: Almost every day over the past week, there has been another media report highlighting more apparent inconsistencies or mistakes in the police case against Mohamed Haneef. 


Yesterday several newspapers published allegations that police were investigating Haneef over a plot to attack a Gold Coast skyscraper. 


That report soon proved to be false and once again questions were being asked about the source of the leak. Today there were fresh allegations that the AFP had mishandled Haneef's personal diary. 


Speaking on Southern Cross Radio, the Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said if mistakes have been made, authorities should come clean. 


PETER BEATTIE: I've never seen such an incompetent explanation of what's going on from the Federal Government. They should wake up to themselves. 


KATHRYN ROBERTS: But the Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has batted off the criticism, turning attention right back to Labor. 


ALEXANDER DOWNER: He's doing all of this on behalf of Mr Rudd. Mr Rudd says nothing about it but the Labor Party's position, as we know, is here to go out and criticise the Federal Police. 


KATHRYN ROBERTS: The Prime Minister John Howard says Peter Beattie's comments are disgraceful. 


JOHN HOWARD: The Labor Party is playing a double game on Dr Haneef. They are saying through Mr Rudd that the matter is being handled correctly, yet Mr Rudd has his agents like the Queensland Premier out there attacking the Federal Police. 


KATHRYN ROBERTS: But the Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd still isn't saying much at all. 


KEVIN RUDD: On the overall handling of this case we have taken in good faith the briefings provided to us to date by the Government. Based on statement this morning by the Attorney-General, we'll now be seeking a further briefing from the Government, including the AFP.  


KATHRYN ROBERTS: And his Shadow Attorney-General Joe Ludwig says any criticisms should be made after the court proceedings are finalised. 


JOE LUDWIG: It's more important for Federal Labor to respect the independence of our judiciary and appreciate the principle of sub judice, rather than making running commentary. It is a case where these facts will be tested, both by the independence of Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions as they prepare their case, but more important tested through judicial process itself.  


KATHRYN ROBERTS: Is it the case, though, that this is just simply not a political winner for Labor? There are no votes in coming out and criticising the case and potentially risk being seen as soft on terror. 


JOE LUDWIG: As I said, this is a matter for the commentators to actually draw a conclusion upon. What Federal Labor is doing is taking the responsible course. 


KATHRYN ROBERTS: Australian National University Political Science Professor, John Warhurst says Labor is playing it safe to avoid any political fallout. 


JOHN WARHURST: I think on the whole question of the war against terror Labor feels that the Australian community is… doesn't really want a political battle on these sorts of issues. I think Labor feel that they may have been hurt in the past by being called soft on terrorism. 


KATHRYN ROBERTS: And is the strategy to stay as close to the Government on these issues as possible? 


JOHN WARHURST: I think so.  


I think Labor's marked out a number of issues, like climate change for instance, on which it wants to run hard because it really does feel there are votes in it for Labor, and where there is a quite distinctive position that Labor can easily take that's attractive to electorate.  


And on other issues to do with asylum seekers and refugees, as well as aspects of the war on terror, it wants to reman close to the Government. Partly, I think because it feels that the Government, while it might take some criticism from the legal profession and other areas of Australian society, is probably fairly much in tune with the thinking of the ordinary Australian voter. 


KATHRYN ROBERTS: The Law Council of Australia, however, isn't afraid to offer its opinion. It's been a vocal critic of the Immigration Minister's decision to cancel Haneef's visa. And the council is now calling on the Minister to issue Haneef with a bridging visa to enable him to live in the community while he awaits his trial. 


This afternoon, the AFP Commissioner also issued a statement, saying that media reports alleging that police had made handwritten notes in Haneef's diary were false. 


MARK COLVIN: Kathryn Roberts.