National Security

Stand-off over deportation bill

March 28, 2024

Thursday 28 March 2024
Angus Thompson and Olivia Ireland
The Age

 A humiliating defeat of the Albanese government's latest deportation laws in  the Senate has forced Labor into a stand-off with the Coalition over border  protection weeks away from a High Court challenge that could trigger the  release of dozens more immigration detainees.
 Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil was twice pursued by cameras in parliament  yesterday after repeatedly ducking questions about why she wanted to rush  through sweeping new powers to jail detainees fighting deportation and block  foreign visitors from countries that will not take citizens back.
 Earlier, the Coalition united with the Greens and other crossbenchers,  including One Nation senator Pauline Hanson and the United Australia Party's  Ralph Babet, to defer the bill introduced to the House on Tuesday to a Senate  inquiry, defeating Labor's attempt to ram it through in less than two days.  The inquiry is due to report back on May 7, one week before the federal  budget.
 "Peter Dutton and the Liberals could be voting to protect Australians today.  They could be taking a big step in keeping the community safe, but instead,  they've chosen not to," O'Neil said alongside Immigration Minister  Andrew Giles said during a heated press conference.
 The Coalition has refused to declare support for the bill, saying several  questions remain unanswered, including why the legislation is so urgent.  Immigration Continued Page 4
 Weeks of pain From Page 1 spokesman Dan Tehan urged the government to face  migrant communities to discuss the bill, as Iranian and South Sudanese  leaders accused Labor of fracturing communities and behaving worse than  former US president Donald Trump.
 Late last year the government rushed through legislation with the help of the  Coalition after the High Court's decision in November in the case of an  individual referred to as NZYQ outlawed indefinite detention, triggering the  release of 152 people, including people who had completed sentences for rape  and murder.
 The latest bill was lodged on Tuesday, in the last parliamentary sitting period  before another High Court hearing on April 17. That hearing will determine  whether people refusing to co-operate with deportation orders should be  released into the community.
 loom for Labor after deportation bill blocked O'Neil refused to comment on a  link between the two before conceding, "I think the ASF17 case does show  that it is important that we have these powers. [But] it's not the only  reason why we're doing this."
 The opposition has accused Labor of avoiding scrutiny over the bill, as  O'Neil refused to answer media questions in parliament yesterday morning. A  snap press conference just before question time ended with O'Neil and Giles  pursued by press through the Senate courtyard after repeatedly ducking  questions about the need for haste.
 O'Neil would only say that the new bill was "a common-sense  proposition" and that the opposition was not working with the government  to keep Australians safe.
 Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said Coalition senators had  begged the government to explain the link between the bill and the ASF17 case  but "they failed to provide it."
 "However, having said that, if there is some urgent, unforeseen need ...  we will bring our senators and members back to pass this legislation if a  genuinely urgent need does arise for it to be passed," he said.
 Paterson said he was "of course" concerned about the impact on  members of the Australian community with links to nations such as Iran, Iraq  and South Sudan, which are among countries that do not accept involuntary  return of citizens.
 Asked if it was humane to force someone afraid of returning to their own  country because of fear of persecution to co-operate with their own  deportation, Paterson said: "All good questions to be answered before a  Senate inquiry."
 Tehan said people wanted to know what Labor was planning, "and they are  rightly worried because Labor is being so secretive."
 "Migrant communities, in particular, deserve to hear from the elected  government how this legislation will affect them," he said.

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