Community Safety

Giles backtracks on drones

June 4, 2024

Tuesday 04 June 2024
Clare Armstrong
The Adelaide Advertiser

 Immigration Minister says Home Affairs' detainees advice wrong
 Embattled Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has been forced to walk back his  claim that drones were being used to monitor former immigration detainees  released by the High Court.
 Mr Giles blamed the Department of Home Affairs for his incorrect claim last  week that drones were part of the arsenal used by authorities keeping track  of the 153 people released from detention since November as a part of  Operation Aegis.
 "I relied on information provided by my department at the time, which  has since been clarified," he said in a statement confirming the  embarrassing backflip.
 But opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said fault laid with Mr  Giles, who still took days to clarify the situation after his drone claim was  not backed up by his department or Border Force officials questioned during  Senate estimates last week.
 "It's a truly bizarre thing to invent a fictitious secret drone  surveillance program operating in Australia, and it just shows this  government has no idea," Senator Paterson said.
 In a statement on Monday, Mr Giles said Operation Aegis drew on information  from a range of sources, including open-source aerial imagery and other  technologies.
 "Our strong laws impose strict visa conditions on everyone in the NZYQ  cohort that were released due to a High Court decision," he said.  "This can include electronic monitoring, curfews, financial reporting,  spot checks, random home visits, as well as the other mandatory conditions  which means the location of every individual is known." Mr Giles also  revealed he had rushed to cancel 30 visas of non-citizens with  "serious" criminal histories in the scramble to reverse Labor's  directive that allowed foreigners to remain in Australia despite their  offences.
 He said the decisions were in the "national interest" after it had  become clear that the interpretation of his "Direction 99" by the  Administrative Appeals Tribunal as it overturned dozens of deportation orders  "did not meet community expectations".
 Direction 99 allowed the AAT to give more weight to a foreigner's  longstanding connection to Australia when considering overturning visa  cancellations issued due to a non-citizen's criminal activity.
 "Ministerial Direction 99 has not been working as the government  intended," Mr Giles said.
 "The government is on track to overhaul this regime and put in place a  new direction before the end of the week." The Coalition welcomed  Labor's move to fix its Direction 99 "mess" and used Question Time  to continue to put pressure on Anthony Albanese about his connection to the  failed measure.
 The Prime Minister was repeatedly asked if the direction was the product of  his discussions with then-New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, which Mr  Albanese denied.
 Mr Albanese said the allegation that he had told the department to  "fix" the issue was not right.

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