Community Safety

Giles boasts to refugee advocates on ‘obligations’ to foreign criminals

June 4, 2024

Tuesday 04 June 2024
Rhiannon Down
The Australian

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles boasted to refugee activists that his ill-fated Direction 99 would “reflect our obligations” to foreign born criminals who have resided in Australia for most of their lives.

While Mr Giles has been claiming community safety was always the priority in the government’s immigration policies, he talked up the need to release more people from detention ahead of Direction 99 being implemented and described the Coalition’s approach to the issue as “punitive”.

Mr Giles told the Refugee Council of Australia event in November 2022 that he was having discussions with “our friends in New Zealand” over the creation of the policy.

Speaking at the council’s general meeting two months before Direction 99 would be introduced in January 2023, Mr Giles said the Albanese government was examining how the visa cancellation regime can operate in the “manner in which it was conceived of”.

The footage of the meeting emerged as Mr Giles faces mounting calls to resign over his push to allow more leniency for foreign-born criminals, forcing him to cancel 30 visas belonging to non-citizens who had successfully fought their deportation because of their ties to Australia.

“I think one of the big issues that we have dealt with as a government is to have regard to the Ministerial Direction that operates in respect of the cancellation regime,” he said.

“And have had close regard, particularly on the basis of discussions with our friends in New Zealand about how this can operate in a way that better reflects our obligation to people who’ve spent the majority of their lives in Australia, as opposed to another country.

“That is one of the ways in which we have been considering how this visa cancellation regime can operate more in the manner in which it was conceived of.”

Mr Giles also said his goal was to reduce the “number of people in immigration detention”, especially those from a refugee background, and accused the Coalition government of having a “punitive attitude” towards immigration detention.

A spokeswoman for Mr Giles said the government was on track to reissue the Ministerial Direction by the end of the week, which would place a greater emphasis on community safety over a non-citizen’s ties to the community.

“As the government has previously stated, the Direction hasn’t been working as intended, so we’re changing it,” she said.

“The new direction will make clear the government’s intention to make sure protection of the community outweighs other considerations.

“The government is on track to put in place a new direction before the end of the week.”

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the comments had “aged very badly”, ramping up the pressure on Mr Giles to resign over Labor’s latest detainee crisis.

“ Far from the tough talk we’ve seen recently, he admits the Albanese government’s policies are actually designed to get people out of detention and back into the community,” he said.

“It worked, but with horrific consequences for Australians over the last six months.

“Maybe the Prime Minister won’t sack his weak Minister for Immigration because he was actually introducing the soft policies Labor always wanted?”

Recent News

All Posts