National Security

Transcript | Sky News | 12 February 2024

February 12, 2024

Monday 12 February 2024

Interview on Sky News with Kieran Gilbert

Subjects: Released documents reveal Albanese government has failed to use preventative detention laws against released criminals  

Kieran Gilbert: Documents which have just been tabled to a Senate committee reveal the Federal Government has not made a single application, to re-detain any of those detainees released following last year's High Court ruling, which found indefinite detention unlawful. That's despite rushing new preventative detention laws through the Parliament in December. Joining me live is the Shadow Home Affairs Minister, James Paterson. This is quite an explosive revelation in the committee this morning. What do you make of it?

Senator Paterson: Well, Kieran, this is the document that the government didn't want the public to see, but they've finally been forced through Senate estimates to cough it up. And the Department of Home Affairs has admitted that there are seven murderers, 37 sex offenders, 72 people charged with assault or armed robbery or other serious crimes like kidnapping, who were among this cohort of 149 people who the government released into the community following the High Court's decision. And among them, 18 of them have been charged already with state and territory offences. Six of them have transgressed their requirements under their visas, so twenty-four of them have re-offended in the community, and not one of them has been locked up under the preventive detention scheme.

Kieran Gilbert: Even those that have re-offended...

Senator Paterson: Correct.

Kieran Gilbert: And have not been re-detained?

Senator Paterson: Correct. So it's now nearly two months since the Parliament passed a preventive detention scheme under pressure from the opposition, and the government has not used it. They have not applied for one of these violent offenders to be taken off the streets. And those violent offenders have re-offended. They've re-offended against Australians. They have been charged with it at least eighteen times, and a further six who have breached the conditions of their visas.

Kieran Gilbert: Do we know if any of those that have been charged, if any of them are behind bars?

Senator Paterson: We don't know. Home Affairs hasn't provided that information. I'll be asking them that this afternoon. I'd be deeply concerned if any of those people are on the streets. I hope they're at least being held under bail conditions in custody pending these charges. But there is a chance, given the government is not using the preventive detention scheme, that these people are out on the streets yet again.

Kieran Gilbert: So you've got confirmation from the Department that the preventative scheme that was rushed through before Christmas, that that hasn't been used...

Senator Paterson: Correct.

Kieran Gilbert: Or hasn't been applied to be used to re-detain anyone?

Senator Paterson: So not only has a court not granted any preventive detention orders, the government hasn't even applied for a preventive detention order.

Kieran Gilbert: Is there any reason why they wouldn't have?

Senator Paterson: There's no good excuse, Kieran. We know that the Minister had a very long break over summer, perhaps they weren't at the office to sign off on the briefs. Perhaps the officials had a long break over summer, too. But in the meantime, these people have re-offended against Australians. And if that is the reason, then that is an absolute disgrace.

Kieran Gilbert: How many of those detainees, are we talking about now? What's the total number?

Senator Paterson: Well, there's 149, according to these documents.

Kieran Gilbert: 149 and do we know where they all are?

Senator Paterson: Correct. We have a state-by-state breakdown, which I can give you. There are less than five in the ACT. There are 60 in New South Wales. There are none in Tasmania. There are 20 in Queensland. There are 40 in Victoria. There are less than ten in South Australia and there are 20 in Western Australia.

Kieran Gilbert: And among that group, seven murderers?


Senator Paterson: Seven murderers, 37 sex offenders, 72 people charged with assault or armed robbery or kidnapping, among other very serious offences, including drug offences, international offences, serious crimes Kieran.

Kieran Gilbert: And as you said, some re-offending. So, what do you want to see from the government today?

Senator Paterson: Well, I want to see the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister of Immigration finally direct their department to make these applications to the court to get these highest risk offenders off the street. You remember immediately after the High Court's decision, the opposition said, we need a preventive detention regime. The government spent a month saying we couldn't possibly have one of those, we don't need one of those. Before they finally conceded of course we do need it and we rushed it through the parliament. Now they haven't used it and the community has suffered as a result. We know that there are crimes committed against Australians as a result of their failure to use these laws.

Kieran Gilbert: A report by Dennis Richardson, the former ASIO Director General into Home Affairs under the former Coalition government, came up with a range of criticisms, including waste funding and so on. What's your response to this report?

Senator Paterson: Look, this report's clearly been dropped to the media in advance of Senate estimates to distract from the shocking failure of the government on community safety when it comes to preventative detention. In his report, which I've only had a brief opportunity to read this morning, since it was only released to the public this morning, it was released to the media some time ago, or selective media some time ago. Mr. Richardson makes clear that no minister was involved in the granting of any of these contracts, that the Minister wasn't even briefed by the Department on these contracts and that responsibility lies with the Department.

Kieran Gilbert: Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson. Talk to you soon.

Senator Paterson: Thank you.


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