National Security

Albo's ball and chain

February 13, 2024

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Katina Curtis and Dan Jervis-Bardy

The West Australian

Almost a quarter of people released from immigration detention after last year's High Court ruling aren't being monitored with ankle bracelets - and the Government is refusing to say why.

It has also been revealed the Government has yet to lodge a single application to re-detain the worst offenders, more than two months after passing emergency laws to do so.

The Opposition says the revelations expose a "shocking failure on community safety and national security".

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, inset, insists the Government cannot rush the application process given the "very high legal threshold" to convince a court to return a former detainee to prison.

"There's no point putting in an application that is not successful," he said.

The immigration detention saga that dominated the final weeks of Parliament last year erupted again on Monday after Home Affairs revealed new details about the detainees in Senate estimates.

Almost half of the 149 freed detainees - 72 people - have previously been convicted of violent assault, kidnapping or armed robbery.

Another 37 had convictions for sexual offences including against children, 16 for domestic violence and stalking, 13 for serious drug offences and seven for murder.

By the start of February, six of 149 people had been arrested for breaching strict visa conditions and another 18 had been charged with breaking State and Territory laws.

They include 65-year-old Afghan refugee Aliyawar Yawari, above, who was charged with two counts of indecently assaulting a woman at an Adelaide hotel less than a month after his release from detention. A seventh man was arrested in Melbourne on Friday and charged with failing to comply with his visa-mandated curfew.

The High Court ruled in early November that a man known as NZYQ could not be kept in indefinite immigration detention because there was no prospect of ever deporting him.

The decision was handed down initially without reasons, which hamstrung the Government's response.

But it released 79 people from immigration detention - about half the total cohort eventually released - within four days of the decision.

Parliament passed two sets of emergency laws to impose tough visa conditions on these people, including electronic monitoring and curfews.

The Home Affairs data released on Monday shows 36 of the 149 detainees are not required to wear ankle bracelets.

The Opposition used question time to pressure Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to confirm if any of those 36 people had previously committed an offence.

Mr Giles would not directly answer the question but repeated the Government was acting on the advice of a special law enforcement board established to manage the cohort.

In total, 103 people have all four "prescribed conditions" on their bridging visas, meaning they have a curfew, are electronically tracked and must notify the department of changes to their banking and financial circumstances.

Another 30 have none of these conditions applied and the rest have a mix of them.

None had been re-detained on the basis that they might be able to be deported.

The second tranche of legislation established a continuing detention or surveillance orders scheme, similar to that already in place for people convicted of terrorism offences.

However, the Government has yet to make any applications to a court for such orders.

Mr Albanese backed his minister of Monday.

"We'll make sure that we line up the ducks as they say, to make sure that we're successful," he said.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson said the speed i which the Government was preparing the court applications reflected its "slow and weak response" to the saga.

"This is a shocking failure on community safety and national security from the Albanese government," he said.

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