Community Safety

Detainee laws were drafted 'at rapid pace'

May 10, 2024

Friday 10 May 2024
Angus Thompson
The Age

 Home Affairs officials only began drafting emergency legislation to monitor  criminals released from detention two days after a High Court judgment freed  them, even though officials met with Immigration Minister Andrew Giles'  office several times in the lead-up to the November 8 ruling.
 Departmental documents released under freedom-ofinformation laws show  legislation for curfews and ankle monitors was being developed "at rapid  pace" from November 10, a day after the opposition urged the government  to act immediately.
 The government's response to the release of 153 former detainees many with  serious criminal convictions, including murder and rape has been marked by a  series of attempts to ram through laws under tight time frames while having  to rely on the opposition to pass them.
 Labor is also facing continued questions about the decision of a departmental  delegate to remove the ankle monitor of a former detainee after he allegedly  breached his curfew conditions and before he allegedly became involved in a  violent home invasion on April 16.
 Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the released  information was "official confirmation of what we long suspected".  "The government's chaotic response to the High Court's ruling in NZYQ [a  Rohingya paedophile in indefinite detention], is because they did not do  their homework and weren't ready," he said.
 "It's no wonder they have been so hapless at every step since and often  had to be led by the Coalition to legislate the protections the community  deserves."
 A Home Affairs spokesperson said the department had provided the government  with advice on legislative options "for all possible outcomes, both  before the hearing, after the orders were made on November 8, 2023, and  following reasons being issued on November 28, 2023".
 A timeline tabled in the Senate in February showed Home Affairs officials met  with Immigration Minister Andrew Giles' office on several occasions in  September and October to workshop what to do if the government lost the case  brought against it by the lawyers for NZYQ as he could not be deported.
 During a Senate estimates hearing on February 12 this year, Home Affairs  general counsel Clare Sharp said officials met with Giles' office on August  8, September 14 and October 12 to discuss the case. The minister was not  present.
 Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said: "The fact that he  didn't bother to show up to the meetings is damning." But a Home Affairs  response to a freedom-ofinformation request submitted by The Age said no  draft legislation was found before the November 8 decision. Released  documents show Giles approved departmental submissions to change the  Migration Act on November 13 and 15, before the legislation was introduced on  November 16.
 "The measures in the bill, and the proposed legislation, have been  developed at rapid pace in the period from 10 to 15 November 2023," the  November 15 submission says.
 The Age revealed on November 28 that the government was also considering  preventative detention laws to lock up the worst offenders from the cohort  again, which passed both houses of parliament by December 6.
 '[The government] did not do their homework.' James Paterson, Liberal senator

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