National Security

Shambolic push for detainee laws fail

March 28, 2024

Thursday 28 March 2024
Clare Armstrong
The Daily Telegraph

 The Albanese government has suffered a bruising defeat after a  "botched" attempt to rush through new emergency powers to detain  non-citizens who refused to be deported, after repeatedly failing to explain  why the law was urgently needed.
 The Coalition, Greens, One Nation and independent senators joined forces to  block Labor's push to ram the immigration bill through the parliament after  just a single day of scrutiny and instead sent it to a six-week inquiry.
 After being accused of "running away from transparency", Home  Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil and Immigration Minister Andrew Giles fronted  the media for a terse 11-minute press conference on Wednesday, but neither  could explain why the bill had to be passed barely 36-hours after it was  first made public.
 "It's important we pass these laws efficiently," Ms O'Neil said.
 The bill was introduced just weeks before the High Court is due to hear a  case involving an Iranian man, known as ASF17, who is refusing to return to  Iran where he fears persecution because of his sexuality. Iran also will not  accept its citizens who have been involuntarily returned. But neither  department officials nor Ms O'Neil would connect the new laws to this court  case, due to be heard on April 17.
 Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said without this  "link" there was no clear need to rush through the laws.
 "(Labor) couldn't explain what the consequences of this would be for any  upcoming High Court cases, they couldn't explain how or when they would use  this legislation or who would apply to," he said.
 "In light of that, it's very difficult for the Coalition to support such  a rushed passage of this legislation. We are very concerned about unintended  consequences." The Senate inquiry into the bill has now scuttled the  government's chances of passing the laws any earlier than May 14 when  parliament is next due to sit.
 Mr Giles said the proposed new immigration powers would "keep  Australians safe".
 "(The laws) fill a big gap, which has existed in our migration system  for over a decade, by giving the minister the power . to enable people who  have no right to remain in Australia to be removed from this country,"  he said.
 But Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan described the process as  "botched, chaotic (and) shambolic".
 He said Labor had the legislation ready last Friday, but did not present it  to the Coalition for consideration until Tuesday when they received just a  20-minute briefing.
 "It is absolutely extraordinary," he said.
 To compound the forgettable day for Ms O'Neil, in Question Time she was  grilled about reports she "verbally abused" her department  secretary Stephanie Foster to the point of "tears" in a discussion  about immigration detainee documents last month. Ms O'Neil avoided a direct  answer, but insisted she worked "closely together" with Ms Foster.

Recent News

All Posts