21 Jul. 2007

Haneef's Q1 Plot

UPDATE: Turns out it was another crock of Murdoch shit. Boy, somebody in the AFP and/or at the Sunday Mail is going to be in big trouble! Right? Right???

Once again we are left to wonder: is the Murdoch press dutifully reporting the news, or deliberately helping create it? Today's Brisbane Sunday Mail reports that police found images of a landmark Gold Coast building and its foundations when they raided Dr Haneef's unit. But that's not all:
The investigation also is examining information seized in the raid which indicated the Gold Coast doctor planned to leave Australia the day before or after September 11...

The AFP investigation is also looking at information that Haneef was one of a group of doctors who had been familiarising themselves with the operation of planes at a Queensland premises.
It's all a little too perfect, isn't it? Is this more shoddy Murdoch Sunday tabloid journalism? Is it a desperate attempt by the Australian police to hit back at yesterday's widespread criticism of their screwed-up SIM card evidence? Is the evidence for real? Was the implied threat for real?

And if this was the "secret evidence" to which Rudd and others alluded, why could it not be mentioned? Why was Haneef's own lawyer not told about it? Why was Rudd so coy on TV? Was Howard supposed to be the one who delivered the information bombshell? Were they purposefully sitting on this information until Rudd started complaining about Haneef's treatment?

As a Gold Coast resident, I would strongly assume the "landmark building" referred to is the relatively new Q1 tower (photo above):
At 323 metres (1,059 feet), Q1 is the world's tallest all-residential building, when measured to the top of its spire.

In comparison, the Eiffel Tower is 300 metres (984 feet) when its 24 m (79 ft) antenna is excluded. Q1 overtook the 21st Century Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates as the world's tallest residential tower. It is the 20th tallest building in the world when measured to its spire, dwarfing the Gold Coast skyline with the closest buildings to Q1's height being the 220 m (722 ft) North Tower of Circle on Cavill and the under construction 240 m (787 ft) Soul building...
The Q1 Wikipedia entry includes some structural info:
The building is supported by 26 piles, two metres in diameter, that extend 40 metres into the ground then up to four metres into solid rock.
As with all such edifices, there was much excitement about the construction, which many locals (myself included) considered quite mad. "Why would you build such a thing after 9/11?" we asked. That was before we found out that our local council was in the pocket of big developers, mind you.

No doubt many tourists still wonder about the obvious WTC parallels. It's impossible to walk around such a building in the post-9/11 world and NOT think about planes slamming into the upper floors.

Of course, at the time of construction there were lots of news reports in the media about how safe this building would be, with heaps of photographic details showing why it was more solid than the World Trade Center. The Murdoch Gold Coast Bulletin was full of such stories. As I recall, it was front-page news when the foundations were poured, and there were a few more big front-page photos as the building went up. So the foundations and architecture were hardly a closely-guarded secret!

As a tourist to the Gold Coast, you simply cannot miss this building. It dominates the skyline, even if it is a few blocks walk from downtown Cavill Ave, the heart of Surfers Paradise. I would expect any visiting doctor to go take a look, take some photos, and maybe even read a bit more about it online when he got home.

Anyone with even a passing interest in architecture (or public safety) might also want to read about the construction and foundations. That's no crime - in fact, I have been Googling for info myself just now, so I guess I could get a knock on the door any minute!

But what about Haneef's purported plans to leave Australia "the day before or after September 11"? No crime in that either.

What about being part of a group that spends time "familiarising themselves with the operation of planes"? Was he playing Microsoft's Flight Simulator X? Is that illegal now? And where exactly are these "Queensland premises"? The local library? The online games cafe on Scarborough Street?

I work in a building just a few hundred meters from where Haneef lived and worked. I can see the Q1 building when I look out my lounge room window. My kids and I have wandered through its foyers. We still have a spare ticket to the Observation Deck. I think I have a right to know if there is any real substance to these allegations!

Unfortunately, this whole investigation has been a farce from go to woe. And our government has a very bad track record when it comes to hyping make-believe threats, hanging innocent men out to dry, and keeping the public ignorant. So what's a concerned citizen like myself to do? Go down to Brisbane's Wolston Correctional Centre and interview Haneef myself? I tell you what, if I thought they would let me talk to him, I might just do that!

And if I did, I would be sure to tell him about how the cops trashed his house, punching holes in the walls, and leaving the whole place "looking like a bomb went off" (as a workmate described it to me: I haven't seen any media reports about that, so I assume it is local gossip).

In the meantime, it seems, I just have to trust the Murdoch press, the Howard government, and the Australian Federal Police. Lucky me.

PS: The UK is about to make a constitutional change to the Attorney General's role.
Governments need an outstanding lawyer at the centre to ensure that their decisions are legally acceptable, and yet that closeness can lead to allegations of impropriety.

It is just possible, though, that Gordon Brown has found a solution. Last week, only five days after appointing Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC, as the new Attorney-General, the Prime Minister announced that the post needs to change. A constitutional process will begin shortly.

What will the future hold? The current arrangement is unlikely to survive. As the Green Paper published on July 3 noted, there is an apparent conflict between the Attorney-General’s role as the Government’s chief legal adviser and her separate role as chief prosecutor and guardian of public interest. The Constitutional Affairs Committee, which has been looking at the role of the Attorney-General since the beginning of the year, has the same concern.

The solution that has been canvassed most widely involves the appointment of a general counsel to the Government, taking on the attorney’s role as the Government’s chief legal adviser, while responsibility for prosecutions would be wholly separated from government...

Mr Brown will appoint a general counsel whose views he trusts and who shares his party’s aims in Government. So will his successors. In this sense the job will be a political appointment. The advice of the general counsel will have to be of the best kind: straightforward and clear, logically unassailable, independent and never tailored to please. But, to ensure that the appointee is listened to when the most difficult and sensitive decisions have to be made, the party in government will also need to be confident that the general counsel is sympathetic, even if the advice is unwelcome. Individuals who are appointed to this job will need to establish their credibility both within government and externally.
Might be a good idea, that.