Queensland Premier demands inquiry, disciplinary action against Immigration Minister
Melbourne: Facing calls for an inquiry into his handling of the case of Mohammed Haneef, Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said on Sunday that he would not reinstate the doctor’s visa, which he cancelled on character grounds.
“His visa’s been cancelled and unless there is some overturning of that by the Federal Court, it’s my indication that that visa will remain cancelled,” Mr. Andrews told a media channel. “Nothing has changed in terms of the circumstances in which I had to make a decision concerning Haneef,” he said amid intense criticism of his intervention in the case.
Mr. Andrews, who revoked Dr. Haneef’s visa on July 16 and placed him in detention despite a magistrate granting him bail, said advice from the Commonwealth Solicitor- General had found it was open for the Government to cancel the visa regardless of the charge being dropped.
“A good job”
Health Minister Tony Abbott, however, praised Mr. Andrews’ handling of the matter. “I don’t think Kevin’s a lonely figure. I think he’s a terrific bloke and I think he’s done a good job,” he told ABC TV.
But in his strongest criticism yet, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie demanded an inquiry and disciplinary action against Mr. Andrews. Mr. Beattie said there was no doubt Mr. Andrews’ “outrageous” decision to cancel the visa was a political act. “Now frankly, I think Kevin Andrews has got a lot to answer for,” he said, adding, “The Prime Minister should at the very least be disciplining him, and I think he should be the subject of an inquiry.”
“Little wonder that Australian people are saying they’re a bit suss about what happened,” Mr. Beattie said, asking the Australian Federal Police to publish the results of an investigation into who leaked incorrect information that Dr. Haneef was being investigated for a plot to blow up a Gold Coast skyscraper.
Mr. Andrews also said Dr. Haneef’s departure from Australia after he was released from custody made him look more suspicious. “If anything, that actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion.”
The Immigration Minister said on Saturday that he would seek to release the confidential police material on which the decision to revoke Dr. Haneef’s visa was based. — PTI