February 13, 2024
Tuesday 13 February 2024
The Australian Financial Review
Labor has not sought preventative detention orders for any of the nearly 150 foreign nationals released under a landmark immigration High Court ruling, despite seven murderers and 37 sex offenders being among the group.
Department of Home Affairs figures released on Monday showed that 72 people previously held on an indefinite basis were locked up for assault and violent offending, kidnapping or armed robbery.
Despite the serious nature of their crimes, 36 people in the released group were told by law enforcement agencies they were not required to wear an electronic monitoring device.
Another 16 people were convicted of domestic violence and stalking, 13 were convicted of serious drug offences, while fewer than five were convicted of people smuggling or crimes of serious international concern. About five were held despite low level or no criminality.
The detainees were released after the High Court considered the detention of a Rohingya man from Myanmar, finding he had been unlawfully detained in immigration detention.
The Coalition said Labor had failed to protect the Australian public in its management of the “NZYQ” case – the Rohingya man’s pseudonym – despite preventative detention laws being rushed through the parliament at the end of 2023.
“It’s now nearly two months since the parliament passed a preventative detention scheme under pressure from the opposition and the government has not used it,” opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson told Sky.
“They have not applied for one of these violent offenders to be taken off the streets, and those violent offenders have re-offended, they’ve re-offended against Australians, they’ve been charged with it at least 18 times, and a further six have breached the conditions of their visas.”
The laws passed before Christmas require ankle bracelet monitoring devices be issued to detainees released in the cohort, unless the immigration minister is satisfied an individual poses no risk to the wider community.
Since being released, six people in the group have been charged with breaching visa conditions and another 18 have been charged in relation to state and territory criminal offences.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said applications were under way by the government, but any orders had to meet a high legal threshold.
“There is no point putting in an application that is not successful,” he told 2GB radio.
“We’re preparing applications. We have serious work under way. The Coalition know these processes do take time to get right because our Detention and Community Safety Order regime is modelled on the Coalition’s High-Risk Terrorist Offenders Scheme.”
He said the government would take action on any case expert legal advice said could result in renewed detention.
The department’s information showed 60 of the former detainees were living in NSW, 40 in Victoria and 20 in both Queensland and Western Australia.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles told question time the government was working “around the clock” to keep the community safe.
Mr Giles said the newly established Community Protection Board was responsible for providing advice on management of the cohort of former detainees. He said the new rules were based on the Coalition-era High-risk Terrorist Offenders regime.
Under those rules, it took more than three years for the first order to be issued. Mr Giles said 10 months was the shortest period of time for an order to be issued.