TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Arbitrary Detention

TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Arbitrary Detention Main Image

29 February 2024

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Arbitrary Detention in Our Immigration System.

The opposition clearly don't live in the real world and never have. If you trace the issues that arose in today's question time, of which the opposition has taken note, back to the decisions made under the last government, the Federal Court made a number of findings that said that the former government was illegally holding people in detention. This included a man who should have been sent back to his home country but instead was locked up at Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre for many, many years. He was eventually released and has been given some $350,000 in compensation since that time.

A case like that highlights that the last government did nothing within the law to resolve the nature of arbitrary detention in our immigration system. Now, if you are a criminal offender and you've done your time and you don't have citizenship status here then you would expect that yes, you will be on your way to deportation. But what has been missing in the context of the last government but is clearly on the table now, in terms of Operation Aegis and our law enforcement agencies working together, is, in addition to the federal powers we now have, to reinvoke the state powers. So, frankly, I can imagine that there's been a history of states saying, 'Right, this person's served their minimum time; let's make them a federal government problem and set them up for deportation and we'll put them in immigration detention.'

But you should really have parole boards deciding whether people are suitable for release, and you should have the kind of oversight and monitoring, when offences are serious, that is actually properly integrated with the state police.

Instead we have an opposition absolutely intent on politicising these issues. We have been working through putting in place the right layers of protection, which include preventative detention, community safety supervision orders, electronic-monitoring devices, curfews and stringent visa conditions. But, of course, we also have to work with the states, who have remaining powers in their existing criminal law and, in some cases, remaining powers under parole et cetera. Perhaps those issues have expired because someone was merely seen as having served their term and flicked into the federal system. And perhaps states should have kept hold of some of those powers to put potential conditions on someone's release. Instead, that was probably seen as not necessary, and people were pushed straight into the Commonwealth system. These issues have been around for a very long time. For example, the Syrian case that I spoke about had been afoot, with the Syrian man serving some five years in detention. After six years, the Federal Court finally made a decision.

Let's try and look logically and sensibly at these issues. We are working through these issues with urgency and with preparation, recognising the risks that can be presented by having persons with a criminal history who have a likelihood of reoffending. This cohort of people are by no means the only people in Australia who present this kind of risk. We have many thousands of them in our state systems. We need to make sure that we are working together. (Time expired)