The real Australia

Real Australians from the award-winning Sentence Management Unit at Wolston Correctional Centre

Now that the issue of Haneef’s incarceration has been resolved, attention has turned inevitably to how the issue will affect Australians’ voting intentions.

I was struck by this remark by Rod Cameron on Lateline:

There are two classes in Australia, Virginia. The political class, so to speak, will be aghast at the brazen nature of the wedge that the Howard and his government tried to play on this one; they’ll be aghast at the mismanagement of it all. But the other — the real — Australia, they’ll have a very different take on it, and I don’t think John Howard will suffer very much from this debacle… the real Australia has a pretty hard-nosed view of all matters to do with terrorists, would-be terrorists, suspected terrorists, and they won’t mark the government down for taking every step to ensure that this guy wasn’t a terrorist.

Cameron’s putative debating partner Michael Kroger, obviously with a different agenda, opted to endorse this analysis enthusiastically. But can it be right?

Even supposing, for argument’s sake that the non-chattering classes don’t care about the finer points of principle and procedure, that indeed they are happy to be lied to from time to time as Frijters and Strocchi keep assuring us, is it true that they don’t object to someone being seized and then incarcerated for a month, from motives that are transparently a combination of political theatre and pure spite? We are not dealing with something complex and arcane like the AWB affair, nor a case that requires some understanding of international treaty obligations and the like, as with the Tampa affair. It’s a straightforward case of someone being locked up with no justification.

Let’s suppose, again for the sake of argument, that your stock standard, non-chattering, fourth-generation, caucasian, real Aussie doesn’t care if some character named Mohamed gets locked up — on the grounds that, even if he isn’t a terrorist, he probably sympathises with the terrorists. The point is that the electorate also includes a huge number of people who are called Mohammed, or have a Mohamed in the family, or come from South Asia, or even just have dark skin; and, even if these many Mohameds are residents or citizens, with the protections that go with that, they are bound to find it intimidating or unacceptable that people in their ethnic and cultural categories, or thereabouts, can be picked up and held in custody on a minesterial whim. And they vote, because it’s mandatory.

In any case, I don’t think our stereotypical Aussie is quite so indifferent to the fate of Haneef as Cameron and Kemp suppose. Haneef is a doctor. They’ve all been treated by Indian doctors, in most cases very competently (notwithstanding the odd exception like Jayant Patel), and realise that Indian doctors are intelligent, diligent, civilised people, who deserve respect and consideration. (the AMA President is worried about the reverse effect, that is, that other foreign doctors will be subject to suspicion on account the Haneef affair — which assumes that people trust the government — but it’s just as likely that Howard and Andrews will be treated with suspicion because people know and trust their Indian doctors, including in the country.

Yes, one or two of his second cousins seem to be terrorists, but most of us have a lot of second cousins and feel accountable for very few of them, and how many reasonable people would insist on seeing Martin Bryant’s second cousins locked up on the same basis as Haneef?

If the polls show a ‘Haneef blip’ for Howard, I’ll eat my hat. The only question is what the real Australia will make of Labor’s part in the affair.

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72 Responses to The real Australia

  1. Yobbo says:

    The point is that the electorate also includes a huge number of people who are called Mohammed, or have a Mohamed in the family, or come from South Asia, or even just have dark skin; and, even if these many Mohameds are residents or citizens, with the protections that go with that, they are bound to find it intimidating or unacceptable that people in their ethnic and cultural categories, or thereabouts, can be picked up and held in custody on a minesterial whim. And they vote, because its mandatory.

    They vote Labor already.

    The biggest problem for Howard is basically that the “Real Australia” is sick of him after 12 years.

  2. I think Cameron is half right.

    I’m not sure whether he meant to suggest that the “political class” was broader than those actually involved in politics, but if we assume he did, I think you would find very different reactions among those who take an interest in public affairs and those who only take a minimal interest and get most of their political news from commercial tv and radio.

    I’d argue that the level of reaction on the MSM “blogs” just shows that people who are interested in politics are exercised by this one. Some have suggested that it reflects public opinion, but it does so even more poorly than phone in and website “do you agree with?” so-called polls.

    All the political science research shows that the voters who tend to swing elections in marginal seats are typically very disengaged from political debate.

    But I’d enter three caveats:

    (a) “Real Australia” is as divided as the “political class” – remember Latho’s ALP still ended up with 2pp margins in the mid to high 40s in may mortgage belt seats, and of course, won some. There’s never a conservative or right wing suburban vote in toto opposing a liberal or left wing inner urban vote. It’s very sloppy thinking to assume there is.

    (b) I suspect that the issue has hurt the government but more because of the degree of incompetence on display, which will raise questions about their capacity to protect national security among voters who are not interested in civil liberties debates.

    (c) Haneef did himself a big favour by appearing on Sixty Minutes.

  3. Michael Paul says:

    The difference in this instance is that Haneef has been humanised. With the Tampa refugees, they were towel headed, queue jumping muslim terrorists”. AWB was simply using tough business tactics in a tough environment to protect the interests of Aussie farmers.

    But with Haneef, you have an articulate gentleman displaying grace under considerable personal pressure without a nasty word for anyone really. Without some addditional, yet to be released information, who is the more credible, Haneef or Andrews?

  4. And Yobbo is making a similar mistake by assuming that Labor has the Muslim or “ethnic” vote sewn up. In many instances, it doesn’t, and if anecdotal reports about how Andrews’ actions in particular have played with non-Anglo folks are correct, then the Libs may be doing themselves some electoral damage. Remember that elections, and the key electorates, are swung by very small shifts of the vote in close elections. Of course, if Labor are heading towards a big victory, none of this will impact, which is the point, I think, of Rudd’s approach to avoiding the wedge.

  5. Yobbo says:

    I’m not assuming anything Mark. I’m talking about electorates with high ethnic populations being rusted-on Labor electorates, and those with high WASP populations being much more likely to vote Liberal.

    This was reversed a little in the last election due to the much-discussed “Howard’s Battlers” vs “Doctor’s Wives” debate, but it is still a very strong trend.

  6. I’d have a closer look at the stats, Yobbo – there are a number of those electorates which are quite marginal. And, in any case, if the Newspoll breakdown between marginal and safe seats which shows that the Coalition vote has dropped precipitously in its own redoubts is on to something, then you can tear up a lot of those assumptions.

  7. Yobbo says:

    Having a degree and convict ancestry doesn’t make people immune to “It’s time for a change”.

    I’m sick of Howard myself, not that I think Rudd would be any better. A change of leadership might convince me to vote Liberal again, if the leader was someone I actually liked. Like Turnbull.

  8. Yobbo says:

    Otherwise, I could well be contesting the seat myself as a candidate for the LDP, just for shits and giggles.

  9. Jc says:

    “The point is that the electorate also includes a huge number of people who are called Mohammed, or have a Mohamed in the family”

    Really. There’s 280,000 Muslims in the country , 1% of the population. How do you stretch 1% out to be huge, James.

  10. Graham says:

    From the Galaxy poll the suggestion is that Cameron has it kind of wrong. The coalition has not picked up anything on the primary vote but Labor has dropped 2 points which go to the Greens and Indies – up 1 each. Which suggests that the Haneef joke hasn’t hurt Howard nearly as much as Rudd’s “dead bat” has hurt Labor. And I don’t think people will be impressed by the latest calls for an independent inquiry. It looks too much like acting tough when the bully has left the playground and we don’t like that. We think it’s weak and bullshit.

    I think Cameron may be right about the two Australias, though. Listening to Virginia this morning there were people crawling over each other to offer up their little bit freedom for a little bit more safety, better safe than sorry, Bali victims don’t have their civil rights, wouldn’t have arrested him for nothing (the “no smoke without fire” presumed guilt gambit).

    So while we, bloggers and bloggees, are pretty much appalled by the whole affair, Mr and Mrs “real Australia” are scared. And righteous with it.

  11. Damien Eldridge says:

    James,

    The the criminal charges and the the withdrawal of his visa should be trated as two separate issues.

    It seems that the evidence underlying the criminal charges was flimsy at best and, indeed, the very idea that you could be charged with a criminal offernce because you gave a freind or relative an everyday item that was subsequently used in a terrorist act without your knowledge or approval is silly. Perhaps the law needs changing if it is this broad. Furthermore, it seems that the investigation was botched as well.

    However, Haneef is not an Australian citizen. As such, he is not entitled to reside in Australia without a visa. Furthermore, it was discovcered that he is related to, and has associated with, suspected terroists. It is highly probable that this association is because hew is related to them and not because he supports terrorism. However, since he is not an Australian citizen, we are under no obligation to allopw him to either enter or remain in Australia. The cancellation of the visa does not seem unreasonable to me if there is so much as the slightest chance that he might be a potewntial terrorist. Is this harsh on Haneef? Yes. Is he most probably an unfortunate victim? Yes. But none the less, this may well be a case where the phrase “better safe than sorry” applies.

  12. Yobbo says:

    Damian is right, by the way. People are banned from Australia for much less things than having terrorist cousins.

    1. Being an unmarried female from a poor country is asking to be rejected.

    2. Arriving at the airport dressed poorly is a reason many european backpackers get sent home.

    3. Not having enough money in your bank account to support yourself in a 5 star hotel for the duration of your stay is grounds for deportation.

    Now usually you’re ok once you’re in, but that’s only because Immigration Officials don’t keep track of you on a daily basis.

    Any backpacker who gets arrested and charged (even if he’s completely innocent) can expect to have his visa reviewed by immigration at that point.

  13. On Graham’s points, Galaxy may just be statistical noise, and talk back radio callers are a self-selected minority and not necessarily representative of anyone but the sort of people who call talkback.

  14. TimT says:

    2. Arriving at the airport dressed poorly is a reason many european backpackers get sent home.

    Well, at least the ones that get in dress nice and snappy. “Welcome to Australia, please adhere to our dress code…”

    No, seriously, I would have been shitting myself if I got turned back at the immigration stopover at JFK Airport, New York, in February this year. I was shit-scared all the way that I wouldn’t meet all the US entry requirements, so I’ve got a lot of sympathy for any backpackers or visitors who do get turned out for that reason.

  15. Graham says:

    Mark I agree with the possibilities youi suggest except that Virginia’s callers, and by extrapolation her audience, tend to be more middle of the road, more evenly distributed. That’s why I thought the Libs had probably briefed their phonesquad, on the one hand, and on the other that the general sentiment of the rest was further to the right than usual. But who’s to know. They can’t very well filter effectively for party affiliation.

    Galaxy is consistent with other polls at 54/46.

  16. As we get closer to the election, Graham, I agree that judging anything on the basis of talkback callers (and I suspect also comments on MSM “blogs”) is going to be more risky because of the phonesquad phenomenon from the parties.

  17. In itself, the Haneef fiasco is a series of stuff-ups and misjudgments flowing from a set of unusual circumstances; which acquire meaning to the ‘political class’ because they fit into various narratives they already have running about the Howard goverment which don’t seem to be widely shared. And the ‘political class’ always get over-excited about the most recent bit of news, barely realising that they themselves will barely remember it in a few weeks time.

  18. observa says:

    “Its a straightforward case of someone being locked up with no justification.”
    I would have thought blind freddy could see that Haneef was a prime candidate to come under the gaze of the anti-terror laws. Ultimately that doesn’t mean that he could be proved guilty of aiding and abetting terrorists in a court of law and after the DPP decided that was the case he was released. So were these innocents by the way
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/freed-guantanamo-inmates-take-up-arms/2007/07/27/1185339258055.html
    What you need to understand, in case it’s escaped your attention, is that Muslim terrorists are blowing up innocent people on a daily basis around the globe and naturally infidel people, who can’t tell the good Muslim doctors that want to heal them, from the bad ones that want to blow them up, unsurprisingly don’t want anything to do with Muslims, period, after a while. It’s called survival instinct and it aint rocket science. Let me put it to you another way. Suppose oranges were nice and juicy and full of vitamin C and goodies just like they are, but every now and again people died eating one for no apparent reason. Do you think you’d still want oranges in your fruit bowl at home?

  19. amphibious says:

    If anyone doubts the perversity & sheer chance of a scungily dressed backpacker being turned around at the airport, watch the tabloid TV sensation, Border Security – it’s SANITISED compared to what really goes on. Recall the conviction a couple of months ago of a couple of Customs officers who delighted in ‘picking’ asian girlies. So what else is new?

  20. James Farrell says:

    …which dont seem to be widely shared.

    Presumably by ‘widely shared’ you mean shared by the majority, Andrew. The only poll I could find was here: http://www.theage.com.au/polls/form.html. I guess The Age readers all belong to the political classes, but 5000 seems to me a fair number of respondents.

    Should Dr Mohamed Haneef be held in immigration detention?
    Yes – 17%
    No – 83%
    Total Votes: 5045 Poll date: 16/07/07

    What did you predict at the time of the Tampa, by the way, regarding its life-expectancy as an issue?

    …if there is so much as the slightest chance that he might be a potential terrorist…

    Damian, I’m glad you’re not pretending, like most of the government’s defenders, that Andrews must know something we don’t. However, it would be would be a waste of time asking you to define ‘slightest’. Let me instead ask you something more concrete: Do you think the Immigration Minister ought to deport any non-resident he becomes aware of who at some stage socialised with a person who later perpetrated a terrorist act?

  21. Graham says:

    btw…
    I think the image caption (“Sentence Management Unit” etc.) above should not go unacknowledged.
    I certainly think that they could be brought in on contract to clean up more than a few blogs. They could correct spellign, remove improper contractions eg, try to assiduously unsplit infinitives and deprecate periphrastic prolixities. And stop people beginning sentences with a conjunction. Or forming sentences without a verb. Just for starters.

  22. Yobbo says:

    Yep, the guys on Border Security are real pricks. And they are pretty representative of what actually happens.

    They are instructed to be pricks, to make people lose their cool. Anyone who loses their cool is automatically out.

    The one I watched last week had an exchange something like this.

    Pommy Backpacker arrives at the airport:

    Official: What do you plan on doing in your stay in Australia?
    Excited Backpacker: Ah you know, catch up with a few mates, have a few beers, enjoy myself, try not to get locked up. Haha.
    Official: You’ve been locked up before then?

    Cue the 2 hour interrogation because of an attempted joke.

  23. James Farrell says:

    I like that idea, Graham… as long you’re not hinting that I’m guilty of any of these misdemeanours myself. That said, I’d like to have the freedom to occasionally split infinitives. And sentences starting with conjunctions are acceptable in informal writing.

  24. harry clarke says:

    James

    I agree with Observa and Damien. The ‘political class’ see a conspiracy around every corner. The more intelligent ‘real Australians’ see instead the Haneef issue as an attempt to deal with serious terrorism that involved mistakes – not an outcome that arose because there was indifference to the fate of people whose name begins with Mohammed – that is an utterly contemptible and arrogant slur in itself.

    The political class have more than usually desplayed irresponsibility over the whole Haneef issue. This is the reason that the political class is never taken seriously by more than a few per cent of the population.

    As Andrew Norton says the political class will forget all about it next week when they concoct their next scandal. Just group it together with Tamba, AWB, David Hicks and all the other half-truths that get trotted out when the ‘political class’ need to add a bit of colour to a statement of political preference.

    James you pick the association issue alone ignoring the other so-called facts that were available at the time of charging and of visa refusal. That some of these were subsequently disproved means nothing as you must know. This is less than honest.

    Real Australians will congratulate Kevin Rudd on his decency and willingness to put security concerns before making a few cheap political points.

  25. Real Australians will congratulate Kevin Rudd on his decency and willingness to put security concerns before making a few cheap political points.

    You’d fit right in in the AWU, Harry. Perhaps you could ask Big Bill Ludwig for a membership form?

  26. Jc says:

    “The only poll I could find was here: http://www.theage.com.au/polls/form.html. I guess The Age readers all belong to the political classes, but 5000 seems to me a fair number of respondents.”

    A cursory look at The Age letters would tell anyone that poll has as much chance ofbeing representative of the way Aussies feel as a poll taken in North Fitzroy. That would be like polling Blair readers on what they thought if the UK Bombers should have been hung on the spot.

  27. James Farrell says:

    As Andrew Norton says the political class will forget all about it next week when they concoct their next scandal. Just group it together with Tamba, AWB, David Hicks…

    Tampa, AWB and Hicks are examples of issue that were forgotten when the next fashionable cause came along? We are living on different planets, Harry.

    James, you pick the association issue alone ignoring the other so-called facts that were available at the time of charging and of visa refusal. That some of these were subsequently disproved means nothing as you must know.

    Damien was arguing that the ‘association issue’ alone was reason to cancel the visa. If it wasn’t, why wasn’t the visa reissued as soon as ‘the other so-called facts’ were ‘disproved’?

  28. observa says:

    And James it was Muslim doctors who were responsible for 2 failed bombings against innocents and one partially successful one. If you can’t trust Muslim doctors, which Muslims can you trust? They were doctors. You know, Hypocratic oath and all that warm fuzzy, caring stuff. Not hard to see why Govts don’t want to take any chances on behalf of their constituents any longer.

  29. That’s “Hippocratic”, obs, and doctors no longer take any oaths.

    Can I trust Muslim dentists? Or nurses? Or physios?

  30. David Rubie says:

    observa wrote:

    If you cant trust Muslim doctors, which Muslims can you trust?

    If you can’t trust good Christians like Timothy McVeigh, which Christians can you trust?

  31. Tampa, AWB and Hicks are examples of issue that were forgotten when the next fashionable cause came along? We are living on different planets, Harry.

    And to take only one of those, diverting 300 million dollars to Saddam Hussein’s regime in bribes hardly constitutes a concocted scandal.

  32. Jc says:

    David

    McVeigh was not a Christian as in practicing Christian. It would be good to show us evidence that he was a regular church goer or whatever it is that one would use to measure his “chistianity”. It’s anonsense.

    He was an anti-government nutball. Not all that much differnt to Ted Kazcinski…. Not identical but not that much different either. They all come out of the same swamp.

  33. Alphonse says:

    I’m with Harry. Just deal with the mistakes to forestall political opinionating from filling the vacuum.

    The local report is one good starting point.

    In court Mr MacSporan said the Commonwealth DPP also wanted to correct mistakes made in an earlier court hearing when prosecutor Clive Porritt had asserted Dr Haneef had lived with terror suspects in the UK and his SIM card had been found in a burning Jeep connected to the failed bomb plots.
    Two statements were made to the court that were in fact incorrect, said Mr MacSporan. The statements were made at an early stage in the investigation … the director has obtained an explanation from (Mr Porritt). He said Mr Porritt had no written statement of facts in front of him on the day and had made the comments inadvertently.

    Political overtones aside, we need to know who orally briefed Mr Porritt, whether Mr Porritt conveyed the brief accurately, what the divergences were (if any) between the brief and what Mr Porritt told the court, and why there was no written brief. None of this is at all political. Misleading the court is serious enough in itself whether or not it’s about terrorism or the PM is desperate. And it’s not as if it’s been explained.

    This will of course most concern those most concerned about terrorism, but it might even concern some who think the threat is mostly cynical hype.

  34. David Rubie says:

    JC wrote:

    He was an anti-government nutball. Not all that much differnt to Ted Kazcinski. Not identical but not that much different either. They all come out of the same swamp.

    JC, I was putting Observa’s outrageous racism in context, not disparaging christianity. I don’t see the difference in anti-government nutballs whatever their origin – some are swarthy and beardie and some are Gulf War vets hopped up on meth. It’s the insanity we need to be targeting, not race, so don’t be giving Observa half-arsed justification for his nonsense.

  35. Jc says:

    David

    Mcveigh was reported to have said he was an agnostic. From what i recall he refused to see any cleric before his execution.

    This is what you wrote:

    If you cant trust good Christians like Timothy McVeigh, which Christians can you trust?

    This is untrue.

    Should i therefore assume that all agnotics think like Mcveigh after having corrected your outrageous statement?

  36. David Rubie says:

    JC, I’ll correct my statement.

    If you can’t trust white people like Timothy McVeigh, which white people can you trust?

    If you can’t trust war veterans like Timothy McVeigh, which war veterans can you trust?

    If you can’t trust lapsed Roman Catholics like Timothy McVeigh, which lapsed Roman Catholics can you trust?

    If you can’t trust short haired people like Timothy McVeigh, which short haired people can you trust?

    If you can’t trust people over 6 feet tall like Timothy McVeigh, which tall people can you trust?

  37. Jc says:

    “I dont see the difference in anti-government nutballs whatever their origin – some are swarthy and beardie and some are Gulf War vets hopped up on meth.”

    However we do need to understand their origins and where they are coming from.

    ————————

    Its the insanity we need to be targeting, not race, so dont be giving Observa half-arsed justification for his nonsense.

    How do you propose to do that without using statisical sampling techniques etc.?

    —————————————

    Not all Muslims are terrorists who want to kill non believers. Some are.

    Not all Swedes are terrorists who want to kill non blievers. Some are.

    Which is the more outrageous comment?

    Answer correctly and you may find why one group is considered slightly more at least than the other in this example.

    The last question is how do you risk manage if you consider all of us to be equally risky?

  38. Jc says:

    If you cant trust white people like Timothy McVeigh, which white people can you trust?

    Well you can to some degree because Mcveigh has turned out to be fairly exceptionally evil. However one can’t discount the possibility of risk. The FBI is correct to be alert to white Anti-government types.

    ————————–

    If you cant trust war veterans like Timothy McVeigh, which war veterans can you trust?

    See above

    ————————–

    If you cant trust lapsed Roman Catholics like Timothy McVeigh, which lapsed Roman Catholics can you trust?

    See above

    ————————–

    If you cant trust short haired people like Timothy McVeigh, which short haired people can you trust?

    See above
    ————————–

    If you cant trust people over 6 feet tall like Timothy McVeigh, which tall people can you trust?

    Even you should admit this one is pretty silly.

    ————————–

    THe FBI is generally able to narrow down a serial killer to being white, between the age of 17-55 and often lives alone. How do you think they arrive at this conclusion?

  39. Graham says:

    Interesting to see that “the political class” is being used here pejoratively. Useful for the right wing to indulge in this. If you are interested in politics you are a leftwinger conspiracy-theorist nutter. Bit like being a “liberal” in Anerica. So the pressure is to be uninterested in poltics? Un-Australian and all that. Also encourages people not to look too clsely at what governments are getting up to, and away with, from time to time. And I thought the “political class” was just responsible, intelligent people who were interested in how their country and their world were being run.

  40. Interesting to see that the political class is being used here pejoratively. Useful for the right wing to indulge in this.

    Rod Cameron is hardly right wing, but I assume you mean the commenters on this thread, Graham.

  41. THe FBI is generally able to narrow down a serial killer to being white, between the age of 17-55 and often lives alone.

    Sheesh, Joe! I hope that profiling works better than that. There’d be millions of white men living alone in such a wide age span.

    I think racial profiling is actually quite relevant to this discussion in the sense that in America it entails over policing and sometimes harrassment of a whole group of people – black males. To some degree it’s a self-reinforcing loop, as more black men are arrested than would be otherwise because they’re being heavily policed, leading the logic to suggest that black men have a greater propensity to commit offences, where the cycle starts again.

    There are also obvious differences with terrorism – one being that it is far, far rarer than say, grand theft auto.

  42. Jc says:

    I actually posit something different.

    If I have Howard figured the last thing he would want on his plate at the moment would a domestic security issue. If something happens here between now and the election his risk could be binary. That is people may think that the governments failure to stop a terror act is about equal to the labor. In other words they have had all this time and they still couldn’t stop it so it would be best to go with Labor because at least we have a chance of getting out of Iraq quicker.
    It may also go the other way to. Frankly i’m not sure which way it would swing. He isn’t a 50/50 politician.

    That second last thing he wanted was someone reminding the electorate of Gitmo david as that did turn out to be a bag of bad apples for him.

    I can’t see how anyone would think that Howard would consider holding this person as some sort of electoral positive. There was all the makings of a potentially bad ending for him and not much to gain.

  43. I don’t agree with that reasoning, but as I said early in the thread, I think this episode will have damaged many voters’ perceptions of the government’s competence in dealing with terrorism.

  44. Jc says:

    I forgot the other bits and pieces that fits the profile, Mark.

    Re the black American profiling. The Black crime rate is about 8:1 to whites. I couldn’t begin to pretend to know even one cause but that’s the number bandied about.

  45. Indeed it is, Joe, and 30% of black males aged between 15 and 35 are or have been in prison or on probation. But crime stats are a bad indicator as many crimes are unreported, and the actual stats are an artefact of the functioning of the criminal justice system – whether the stats are of arrests or convictions (and there’s a higher conviction rate for blacks and for males). I’m not suggesting that black males don’t commit more crimes than white males, but I am suggesting that (a) the rate is strongly correlated with economic position as well as race and (b) racial profiling ups the stats for black males, making them more of a target.

    But probably we’re straying a bit off topic.

  46. James Farrell says:

    Interesting to see that the political class is being used here pejoratively. Useful for the right wing to indulge in this.

    Rod Cameron is hardly right wing, but I assume you mean the commenters on this thread, Graham.

    That’s right, Cameron went to pains to make it clear he was making an observation, not a judgement. By contrast, all the commenters here are not only accepting the political class versus real Australians dichotomy, they’re following Kemp’s lead in equating ‘real Australian’ with authentic, decent, honest, unpretentious, no-nonsense, clear sighted, practical and, of course, correct. In the end it’s all one great tautology, as Andrew Norton’s blog subtitle tacitly acknowledges.

  47. Agreed, James.

    The first thought that popped into my head when I heard Cameron on Friday night was “what an offensive way of putting it for all of those of us who are unreal (surreal?) Australians”!

  48. Jc says:

    But who cares a toss what Cameron thinks. He’s pollster for crying out loud. He’s just the guy who collects the figs and does surveys. He’s like a back office clerk.

  49. Jc says:

    and, no, no disrespect to office clerks ever intended.

  50. Patrick says:

    Well, I am a member of the political class, I suspect, in the way the term is being used here – I read this blog, after all.

    And I think that, as far as anyone can tell for now, the whole thing looks like a complete cock-up which exposes institutional weakness if not incompetence and serious ministerial irresponsibility (in fact, irresponsibility and incompetence from top to bottom). I could be wrong, of course.

    That said, using an Age website poll as representative is beyond farcical. Age readers have probably been over 75% Labor for Howard’s entire leadership. A poll of voting intentions on the Age website adds even less information than your usual website poll.

    Just to emphasise the point, I am probably the only one of my non-Age reading friends who cares much at all about Haneef (actually, I can think of one other, so there are at least two of us). All my Age-reading friends were voting for Rudd anyway.

  51. Damien Eldridge says:

    James, I think the default answer to your question in comment 20 on this thread is yes. Exceptions may be allowed on a case by case basis if there are clear reasons to believe that the person in question is of good character and not a potential terrorist. But in general, associating with suspected terorists is definitely grounds for both refusal of entry to Australia for non-citizens and cancellation of visas if they have already been admitted.

    On a separate issue, the use of the term “slightest” is no more ambiguous than the use of the term “reasonable” in the legal system. We seem to have coped with this tpe of ambiguity for a long time now, so I don’t think it is likely to be a major problem.

    Note that when it comes to incidents like the Tampa situation and the AWB scandal, I am critical of the Howard government. If Howard did not know that the claims that were being made were not true, it was probably because he had set up situations where he was not informed of such things so that he could subsequently claim plausible deniability. If he didn’t know, then he probably should have known.

  52. David Rubie says:

    Jc wrote:

    The last question is how do you risk manage if you consider all of us to be equally risky?

    The answer is you don’t. We have a very, very good idea of the probability of terrorist attack in Australia. It is below worrying about, to the point where anti-terror activities and legislation right now are doing more harm than good (Haneef being a perfect example).

    One positive has emerged though: the mendacity and incompetence of Andrews and Ruddock were on full display, yet again, for the entertainment of Australians. Thankfully that old dirt kissing groveller Downer couldn’t help himself either. All I need is for Abbott to write something fatuous in his regular column with bigoted overtones for a all four aces to come up.

  53. patrickg says:

    “Real Australians”

    Bloody hell, don’t they have a Hitler Seniors Brigade or something for people like you, Harry?

    Since when were you the arbiter of what constitutes ‘real’ Australians? Is there a selection criteria I can check out?

    Presumably, despite your bourgeois lifestyle, you seemingly qualify for this yourself. Are ‘real’ Australians only the ones that happen to agree with you politically? Sheesh, no wonder you’re a fan of anti-terror legislation. Real Australians don’t commit thought crimes, eh?

    A ‘real’ Australian is any citizen of Australia, much as that may offend your sensibilities. And there are plenty who agree, and plenty who disagree, with your thoughts on this issue.

    I agree with James and others painting this as somewhat of false dichotomy. Further more, the idea that you, me, Rod Cameron, etc. have any idea what these so-called ‘real australians’ (I love how real Australians are considered to be uneducated right wing bogans) think is laughable.

  54. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Mu talkback-listening, union-hating, ex-cabbie father, who is my coal-mine canary where the opinions of the so-called Real Australians are concerned (as distinct from those of us who are presumably Unreal Australians), is completely appalled by the way that Haneef has been treated, by the incompetence of all concerned, and by the way that government ministers are talking and behaving in the aftermath. The various MSM letters to the editor, likewise a good indicator of RA opinion, reflect something similar.

  55. James,

    I am shocked to hear that your second cousins could be terrorists. I will get the paddy wagon sent round right away.

  56. observa says:

    “The answer is you dont. We have a very, very good idea of the probability of terrorist attack in Australia. It is below worrying about, to the point where anti-terror activities and legislation right now are doing more harm than good (Haneef being a perfect example).”

    David, back in Nov 2005, 18 terror suspects were picked up in Melb and Sydney and a dozen of them are still in jail awaiting their day in court. Not a murmur about that, so why all the fuss over Haneef many would ask? Do terror suspects under our new anti-terror laws have to be quietly spoken, educated doctors to get all the attention?

  57. David Rubie says:

    observa wrote:

    Do terror suspects under our new anti-terror laws have to be quietly spoken, educated doctors to get all the attention?

    No – we’ve had Hicks, Jihad Jack and now Haneef. All botched. It’s easy to assume the 18 suspects cooling their heels have also been screwed over, given the acquiescence of Keelty, who has a whole lot of form on exporting justice to other countries and chasing down political targets rather than criminals. It’s very hard to have any confidence in a justice system like that.

  58. James – On comment 20: The point I was making was not whether the public would support the detention of Haneef on the available evidence – I would be staggered if they did, because there is no publicly-available evidence that supports the conclusion that he should be, and the case has received such saturation coverage that most people would be aware of this. The issue is what it *means* to voters.

    Is it a series of stuff-ups and misjudgments that should’t happen but inevitably sometimes will, which the public will forgive if it doesn’t happen too often? Given that the public generally supports strict rules on terrorism and immigration, they could well decide to let one instance like this pass.

    Or do they like the political class see this not as stuff-ups and misjudgments, but further evidence that civil liberties are threatened and the government is playing political tricks again – their runnning narrative.

    I think the former interpretation is more likely.

    Tampa is quite different. The public is strongly against illegal migration, and Howard took clear and decisive action to implement their preferences.

    Also, we have the ‘bundling’ problem – potentially thousands of issues that could affect people’s vote, but only two actual votes, one for the H of R and another for the Senate, to cast. It makes it hard for issues like Haneef or AWB to count, since they lack broader implications for voters.

  59. Jc says:

    Pav

    Like the rest of us, your dad doesn’t have enough information to make a reasonable conclusion other than what’s been said by his legal mouthpieces, which to a large extent is really only propaganda anyway.

    We need to know exactly what is in the dossier. Before that time we have no idea.

    David R.

    You’re over the map on this one. You don’t believe in statistical sampling used by law enforcement, you introduce straw men like the people who are 6-foot tall example and you’re making wild assertions about people like Kelty.

    Yes, getting killed by an act of terror is a low probability event. But is not zero. There have been far more people killed in acts of terror in the West than have died in plane crashes since 911.s. Do you suggest we ease up on regulatory supervision of airline safety?

    The first role of any government is to ensure public safety for all citizens. I fail to see how profiling wouldn’t fit into the strategies needed in controlling terror. Youre emoting lots of personal preferences but nothing solid.

  60. David Rubie says:

    jc wrote:

    Yes, getting killed by an act of terror is a low probability event. But is not zero. There have been far more people killed in acts of terror in the West than have died in plane crashes since 911.s. Do you suggest we ease up on regulatory supervision of airline safety?

    Seriously – the whole terrorism thing is a massive beat up. The probability of tripping down the stairs and dying in the resulting fall is more likely. It doesn’t sell newspapers or win elections though. I’m declaring a war on stairs.

  61. Jc says:

    David

    It’s unlikey a person will be murdered too. However it doesn’t mean we hire less cops.

    Seriously – the whole terrorism thing is a massive beat up. The probability of tripping down the stairs and dying in the resulting fall is more likely.

    Fair enough. Then I take it you would be the first person to argue agaisnt building codes for second level houses.

    No fencing around pools……

    David, I didn’t realize you were an anarcho-libertarian. Congratulations.

  62. amused says:

    “The political class have more than usually desplayed irresponsibility over the whole Haneef issue. This is the reason that the political class is never taken seriously by more than a few per cent of the population.”

    WTF!
    I think we have met ‘son of inner city latte slurping, chardonnay sipping, elites’. We have also met the next bit of insanity from a deluded authoritarian right, who believe, against all the historical evidence, that Australia really is the heimat downunder, sturdily resisting the siren call of liberalism in any form, refusing to do anything including laughing at the powerful when they manifestly cock up, that might disturb the deeply held attraction of this crap for a certain kind of F**kwit..

    Youse all need to get a ‘grip’ and that includes the superior and very opinionated Rod Cameron who knows diddly squat about anything not like the circles he moves in. Out there, where the voters live and work, this is being described, succintly and perspicaciously as ‘It’s children overboard all over again’.

    Yes,a certain demographic approves of locking up dark skinned muslims, “just in case they, well I am not prejudiced, but you know….” But hardly anyone else does, because suddenly everybody can suddenly imagine, what it must feel like to be held in detention by the likes of Andrews, at his whim and pleasure. He is toast, and so is Howard if he persists in pretending that his sentiments appeal to anyone other than his rusted on supporters in nursing homes.

  63. Jc says:

    Amused

    Is the ALP going to change the policy on visa appliactions in any noticeable way? Please tell.

  64. amused says:

    Now now jc, you are getting all ‘political class’ there. The issue is strictly the treatment of Haneef by a Minister with delusions of competence, and you know it. More interestingly, so do the punters.

  65. Mr Denmore says:

    Interesting how the increasingly marginalised right tries to broaden to broaden every specific issue into a generalised attack on the “out-of-touch inner metropolitan elites” and a eulogy for the mythical “real Australia” of the burbs.

    Give it a rest guys. That narrative has exhausted itself. The world is more complicated than that. Even the Americans have tired of the knee-jerk attempts to divide their world into boxes marked “liberals” and “patriots”.

    It’s interesting, too, that the right, having accused the left for so long of patronising the masses, is now doing just that by making all sorts of assumptions on their behalf about where they stand on every issue.

    It smacks of desperation.

  66. observa says:

    Some of you guys must be living on another planet or so far in the past it’s a wonder you know how to use a computer. It’s not a bloody conspiracy for chrissakes. Sept 11 aside, we live in an era where lots of people now think grown up parents need protection from toons on choccy bars, because that will make their munchkins so crazed with desire, the grown ups won’t be able to say no. Sweet Jesus, my grandparents would turn in their bloody grave at such nanny state nonsense and I have a lot of empathy, nay longing for the good old days too, BUT.. Then here you are jumping straight into wanting to dismantle anti-terrorist laws that are designed to stop Mussies deliberately killing said residents of said nanny states. I gotta admit, you do like Herculean tasks. Let me give you a bit of helpful advice. Don’t go bloodying yourselves, beating your heads against brick walls. Start off with something a bit more realistic and achievable, like standing up for the rights and freedoms of Shrek and Ronald MacDonald and Co and work up gradually to those anti-terror laws. Bite off sizeable chunks that you can chew and swallow and you’ll eventually devour the whole damn monster in the end.

  67. Obs, you’re weird, dude.

  68. harry clarke says:

    Patrickg,

    ‘dont they have a Hitler Seniors Brigade or something for people like you, Harry?’

  69. Jc says:

    Obs

    Isn’t that hilarious? Kev’s going to stop Shrek from advertising burgers. I wonder if he knows he isn’t a real person and not Joe Hockey…….
    Can you imagine? There’s Julia and Kev at the front gate of a school each day checking kids BMI before they go in. Anything 20 and over they go to the fat farm for re-education. Oh my lord, where’s Hawke when we need him.

    Sorry as off topic.

    Sit back and enjoy it.

  70. david tiley says:

    Kev’s onto something with this, btw. It is an international campaign. In the UK recently Channel 4 was prevented from advertising food to children by Ofcom, the British regulators. In response, Channel 4 closed down its kids’ programs.

    The same threats are being made here as ACMA moves into a review of children’s programs on the teev.

    This is not Latham and his weird ideas about getting parents to read to children.

  71. observa says:

    “Obs, youre weird, dude.”
    Let me spell out the really big picture here for you Mark. Leftist nanny staters have continually wanted to protect everyone from themselves and things that go bump in the night, all for their own good. It starts with seat belts, baby capsules, bike helmets, brakes on prams and tethers (to stop them going into the Torrens) and progresses to health warnings on fag packets and now bans on toons on choccy bars. Each well meaning fear campaign and nanny state solution, by and of themselves are not a big deal, but over time add up to one big state of paranoia looking for a Govt hanky all the time. Now the nanny staters are all shocked to the core that the object of their long march is paranoid about Muslims and fully supports anti-terror laws to protect themselves. Shock horror! Dr Frankenstein’s perfect creation has turned on the good Doctor and some of us would say we warned you. Yes Mark, I know, it’s weird dude.

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