High Court remains unprotected by Australian Prime Minister

Project SafeCom Inc.
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High Court remains unprotected by Australian Prime Minister

Media Release
Thursday November 11 2004 07:30am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

With the report by the Melbourne paper The Age (Meaghan Shaw, Canberra funds Nauru legal attack, 11 Nov - pasted below) about what surely must be a deliberate refusal on the part of the Howard government to protect Commonwealth legislation as vested in the High Court of Australia, it leaves no choice but to conclude that the Australian Prime Minister John Howard is seriously in contempt of Australian law, and in contempt of The High Court.

Deliberate refusal

The actions of the Prime Minister have created a situation where a foreign nation attacks Australia's highest legislature, its highest legal institution, The High Court of Australia, but the Australian government has no intention to defend that institution, because it does not fit with its agenda of mandatory detention of asylum seekers.

Politics instead of Protection

Mr Howard wants this challenge by this foreign nation Nauru to succeed, because it wants the challenge to be brought before the High Court over the legality of indefinitely detaining of asylum seekers under Nauruan law, to fail. The Prime Minister is doing this because he places a higher value on his political framework of his dealings with refugees above the protection of The High Court.

High Court should demand or Parliament should dismiss

What surely must follow now, is that the justices of The High Court issue a demand for the Prime Minister to appear before the Court to explain himself; and, if the Justices of The High Court do not issue this demand, then the Federal Australian Parliament must surely dismiss the Prime Minister from office.

Constitutional Crisis?

There is no need to call this a Constitutional Crisis, because there is no unresolved conflict of Justice that cannot be served. There is a mandatory duty on the Prime Minister to defend and uphold Australian law and Australian Courts, and indeed especially The High Court of Australia. Mr Howard is the Prime Minister, and this is one of his primary duties.


If the High Court does not bring Mr Howard before the Justices of the Court, and the Parliament does not dismiss the Prime Minister, then surely the Governor-General must cause him to be dismissed.

For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

Canberra funds Nauru legal attack

The Age
By Meaghan Shaw
November 11, 2004

The Federal Government has bankrolled a challenge to Australian laws that, if successful, would prevent the High Court ruling on the fate of asylum seekers detained in the Pacific.

Nauru's challenge, heard by the High Court yesterday, was not defended by the Government - a situation described by Justice Michael Kirby as "remarkable, bordering on astonishing".

"I've never heard of such a thing," he said. "It is embarrassing to a court, I think, to have suggestions of this kind made to it by counsel for a foreign country and to have no assistance from the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.

"I find it embarrassing because this is a matter that touches the foreign relations of this country."

Nauru is challenging a Commonwealth law that makes Australia's High Court the final arbiter for appeals from Nauru's legal system.

The action aims to prevent the High Court hearing an appeal lodged by Melbourne lawyers against a decision by Nauru's Supreme Court that upheld the legality of detaining asylum seekers on the island.

The appeal could decide the fate of the 81 asylum seekers who remain on Nauru, and was lodged on behalf of an Afghan asylum seeker, Mohammad Arif Ruhani, who has been detained for nearly three years.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman yesterday confirmed Australia was funding the challenge under arrangements for Nauru to host the offshore processing centre.

If Nauru lost the challenge and was ordered to pay the costs of the other party, Australia would cover "all reasonable costs" incurred, she said.

Peter Hanks, QC, acting for the Nauruan director of police, argued that Nauru's processing centre and its use of special-purpose visas to restrain the movements of asylum seekers was a matter of Nauruan law.

Refugee lawyer Eric Vadarlis said the Government's actions were "a joke".

"You would not expect a sovereign government, an advanced democratic Government like Australia, to be behaving in this way," he said. "Our Government is engaged in getting others to do its dirty work."


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