National Security

Detainees charged but not locked up

February 13, 2024

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Clare Armstrong

The Daily Telegraph

Labor has not applied to have any of the murderers, sex offenders or violent criminals released from immigration detention last year returned to prison months after passing emergency laws to do so.

Of the 149 people released following a High Court ruling in the NZYQ case in November, at least 18 former detainees have been charged with fresh crimes by state and territory police, while seven have allegedly committed Commonwealth offences, including breaching curfew and electronic monitoring requirements.

The cohort, who are not Australian citizens but cannot be deported largely due to their refugee status, includes seven murderers, 37 sex offenders, 72 violent criminals, 16 domestic violence perpetrators and 13 serious drug offenders.

The Department of Home Affairs on Monday publicly confirmed for the first time where the released detainees are currently living, with 60 in NSW, 40 in Victoria, 20 in Queensland, 20 in Western Australia, fewer than 10 in South Australia and fewer than five in the ACT.

Officials also confirmed there have been no applications made to have any of the most serious offenders returned to prison under new preventative detention measures rushed through parliament in December.

As of last month there were 113 former detainees required to wear electronic ankle monitors, while in 36 cases the trackers were deemed unnecessary.

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson accused Labor of being “slow and weak” in its response to the High Court decision, arguing the only way to know if preventative detention orders would be successful was if the government “gets off its backside and makes an application to the court”.

“This is a shocking failure on community safety and national security,” he said.

Mr Paterson also criticised Labor’s lack of transparency on the rate of reoffending among the cohort.

“These updates … shouldn’t have to be dragged out by the skin of our teeth from the officials form the Department of Home Affairs,” he said.

Anthony Albanese defended the lack of applications to redetain any of the individuals released, claiming the government wanted to avoid unsuccessful attempts.

“There’s a very high legal threshold to be met for a court to agree to the ongoing detention of an offender,” the Prime Minister told 2GB.

“What we want to make sure is that this is right, there’s no point putting in an application that is not successful.

“We are taking advice and we will take action for everyone who the advice suggests can be successfully detained.”

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles was grilled about the detainees in Question Time, but repeatedly declined to reveal if any of the people who had reoffended were not wearing ankle bracelets at the time.

Citing “operational” reasons, Mr Giles said the questions were a matter for law enforcement.

Australian Border Force officials fronting Senate Estimates on Monday took a number of questions on notice as they were also unable to immediately answer how many detainees previously convicted of serious offences were not fitted with an ankle monitor.

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