National Security

Transcript | Doorstop Australian Parliament House | 28 March 2024

March 28, 2024

Thursday 28 March 2024
Doorstop at APH
Subjects: Labor’s shambolic migration bill process

JAMES PATERSON: Good morning, well last night we heard from the ABF and Home Affairs and saw their lack of willingness or inability to answer basic questions, basic factual questions about this government's ongoing, rolling in the immigration detainee crisis. It sure looked to me like an attempted cover up because they weren't able to answer of the ten former detainees who breached their visa conditions, how many were murders or rapists. How many had electronic monitoring bracelets while they were in the community. Of the 18 people who breached state and federal laws, they weren't able to tell us how many of them were murderers or rapists, or how many of them were wearing ankle bracelets in the community. The only fact we finally dragged out of them in another two hour hearing was that of the 152 dangerous, non-citizen former detainees now released into the community, 73 of them are no longer wearing ankle bracelets in the community. So half of the 152 detainees are roaming free in the community without any electronic monitoring at all. Now, let's remember, the Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, has said they are being constantly monitored, that there are four layers of protection, that we've never had visa conditions as tough as this. Well it turns out, for half of those detainees, that's not true at all. And we don't know whether any of these former detainees are among those that committed those most serious crimes. So finally, the Albanese government must front up today. They promised more transparency. They promised regular reporting. They promised to come clean. Well, they need to front up today and explain exactly how many of these detainees are out there who are a danger to the community, who are not being monitored, as they said they were.

JOURALIST: Why stand in the way of the deportation bill yesterday? Isn't that just a political play, as Labor has described it?

PATERSON: We were strongly inclined to support this bill. We wanted to see it through. We voted for it in the House of Representatives. And we hoped that the Senate hearing that we had would clear up the basic questions that we have. But when the Department of Home Affairs and when the government wasn't able to explain to us why this bill was urgent, why it needs to be rushed through the 36 hours, then in good conscience we could not ram it through the Parliament. It has to follow the normal processes of the Parliament so it can have proper parliamentary scrutiny.

JOURALIST: Do you think that the government should make clear if the bill is associated with the High Court case next month?

PATERSON: They should explain as best as they can, given that there's an upcoming High Court case and there are some sensitivities about that, but as best as they can, what the connection is between those two things. They have offered us both private briefings as well as answering these questions in public. And in neither of those forms have they clearly explained the links between those two things. If there is a link, they should say so. But they have also said they are very confident about their prospects in that case. They think they're going to win that case. And they've said they've got extensive tools already to manage the NZYQ cohort. So if this is necessary because of that case, they should plainly say so.

JOURALIST: Are you willing to come back to the table earlier to try and get this passed?

PATERSON: Yes. If the government is able to do what it hasn't been able to do this week, which is demonstrate genuine urgency, we can bring the Parliament back. We will bring our members and Senators back whenever required to pass this legislation. If the government unexpectedly loses the case, and they do explain that it's necessary to manage this cohort, we will bring the Parliament back. That's an offer that we've made to them. It's an offer which remains open. And so if there is a genuine need, of course, we'll play a responsible role in fixing this problem.

JOURALIST: And just on the inquiry that's going to be happening between now May 7th, between yourselves and the Greens, have you guys decided, what you're looking at, how long you want it to go? Do you want it to report by May 7th?

PATERSON: Yeah, we've got a little bit over a month. We've got about five weeks to do this job. That's actually quite a rushed inquiry in the normal course of things, but it should be enough time for us to have, sufficient hearings to hear from expert witnesses and stakeholders who'll be affected by this decision, whether they're supportive of the legislation or opposed to it, whether there is communities who are affected by this decision. We've seen concerns from Iranian diaspora for example, about their concerns. We want to hear from them, we want to hear their perspective so we can take that into account. And we should do that promptly and efficiently by the 7th of May, so that when the Parliament returns the following week, these bills can be passed if they need to be.

Thank you.


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