Calls for Anthony Albanese to address concerns about release of detainees from immigration detention

Concerns that proper checks have not been completed before the release of nearly 150 immigration detainees has triggered a fresh wave of criticism of the federal government.

The High Court ruled last month that holding non-citizens in indefinite detention was unlawful.

A fifth former detainee, who had an outstanding warrant, was arrested on Thursday – raising questions about why he was released into the community.

NSW Police confirmed the man was arrested by Queensland police because he had breached parole for an earlier conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said the public deserved to know why the proper checks weren’t run before the 39-year-old man was released.

“What I want to know from Anthony Albanese today is how many of these individuals will be locked back up before Christmas so that the community can feel safe,” she told reporters in Canberra.

Camera IconAnthony Albanese has been accused of being missing in action. NCA NewsWire /Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconSussan Ley has demanded the PM front up. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

The Coalition has piled pressure on the Prime Minister in recent days to front up on the saga, claiming he has gone missing while his “hapless” ministers fumbled. 

“He’s leaving it to his ministers, both of whom I’m sorry to say should actually step down because somebody has to be responsible for this debacle on community safety,” she said.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the government understood the anxiety that had been felt in the community since the detainees’ release.

“We certainly understand the anxiety which has been felt in the community around the release of these people,” Mr Marles said.

“We understand it because in the High Court we argued against the release. Our position is that they should have not been released.”

Camera IconRichard Marles said he understood the community anxiety. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Earlier on Friday, Ms Ley claimed the government could have waited an additional three weeks before it released the detainees into the community.

But Education Minister Jason Clare rejected the suggestion outright.

“If we had our way no one would have been let out, but the High Court ordered it and you’ve got to follow the High Court’s orders. We had no choice here,” he said.

The Labor frontbencher accused the opposition of playing politics, considering it failed to front up to read the legal advice as offered by the government.

“This legal advice has been available now since Sunday in a secure room at Parliament House,” Mr Clare said.

“It’ll astound people watching to know that not one member of the Liberal Party has walked into that room to read that legal advice.

“That tells us that this is all about politics rather than trying to keep the community safe.”

The parliament has passed Labor’s preventive detention laws that hand the courts the power to re-detain the worst offenders in the released cohort.

The laws are closely modelled on the preventive detention laws introduced by the Coalition to lock up terrorists that were upheld by a High Court challenge in 2021.

The government has been scrambling since the High Court surprised it by handing down its ruling, initially without its reasoning, earlier than it had expected.


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