Battlelines drawn on new high court detainees as Albo hit with Coalition demands for new laws

Jack QuailNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

A showdown over expanded detention laws aimed at placing some of those released from immigration detention back behind bars is expected to dominate the final parliamentary sitting week.

A bombshell High Court ruling last month found holding non-citizens in indefinite immigration detention was unlawful, triggering the release of 140 people, some with violent criminal pasts.

The government will introduce changes in the Senate next week to amend existing legislation, however its passage is not assured, with the Coalition outlining its requirements for the new legislation if it is to pass.

It is understood the laws will be modelled on the High Risk Terrorist Offenders Regime put in place when the Coalition was in office.

This will enable the government to apply to the courts to re-detain high risk offenders, rather than a minister unilaterally deciding.

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If passed by the Senate, the amended legislation will then be rubber-stamped by the House of Representatives which will cap off the parliamentary calendar with a final sitting scheduled for December 7.

Camera IconThe Coalition, which has criticised the government’s handling over the release of detainees from immigration detention, has outlined its expectations for the new laws. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Speaking on Sunday, opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan, who has spearheaded the Coalition’s campaign against the government’s handling of the issue, outlined his expectations for the amended legislation.

“We want a preventative detention regime which is as tough as we can possibly make it, which we’ll be able to apply to as many detainees as they possibly can,” Mr Tehan told Sky News Sunday Agenda.

Mr Tehan also demanded the government search for alternative deportation options.

“We want [the government to] re-engage in trying to find countries where they can send these detainees to. We saw Clare O’Neil undertaking all this activity to try and remove NZYQ right at the end of the case. Why isn’t she doing that for the rest of the detainees?”

“Because the High Court has made it clear, if there’s real prospects that these people can be removed overseas, they can be re-detained. So we want tough preventive detention laws and we want the government to get going again on trying to find countries to deport these detainees to.”

Camera IconOn November 8, the High Court Ruled that indefinite immigration detention was unlawful, triggering the release of some 140 detainees. NCA Newswire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

The Albanese government has faced significant political pressure since the High Court ruled it was unlawful to indefinitely detain non-citizens in instances where they were unable to be repatriated or sent to another country for resettlement.

The case centred on the case of a Rohingya man, who had been detained in immigration detention after he had served a sentence for child sex offences.

Since the ruling, the number of foreigners freed has swelled to more than 140.

In the court’s reasoning revealed earlier this week, the court effectively green-lit the government’s approach to legislate a strengthened preventative detention regime.

In an earlier interview, federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt blamed Peter Dutton - who as immigration minister allowed the plaintiff of the High Court decision to reapply for a visa - for the ongoing political saga over the indefinite detention of detainees.

Question Time
Camera IconAgriculture Minister Murray Watt accused now Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of being the architect of the unlawful regime. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“The whole problem we have here is that the system that Peter Dutton employed was one which left that decision with ministers to decide to detain people, and the High Court has ruled that that is unlawful and unconstitutional,” Mr Watt said.

The agriculture minister added that the Coalition ultimately needed to come to the table if the passage of the legislation was assured.

“We want to respect the High Court’s ruling, while at the same time make sure that we have a strong, tough [preventative detention] regime that protects the Australian community,” Mr Watt said.

“We hope that this week, the opposition will support us rather than playing politics and voting against legislation.”

Originally published as Battlelines drawn on new high court detainees as Albo hit with Coalition demands for new laws

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