Labor to rush through new immigration laws to close loop-hole on detainees

The Albanese Government will rush more immigration laws through parliament as the High Court decision on an indefinitely detained refugee looms.

Mar 26, 2024, updated Mar 26, 2024
The government is considering rushing through new legislation close a legal loophole for detainees (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The government is considering rushing through new legislation close a legal loophole for detainees (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Labor is facing another High Court challenge as an Iranian citizen known as ASF17 makes a legal bid for freedom.

The Albanese government has attempted to send him back to Iran, but as a bisexual man, he could face the death penalty upon return.

If an earlier High Court ruling – which deemed indefinite detention unlawful in November – is expanded to cover people who refuse to co-operate with Australian authorities, the Iranian man would be released and more refugees could be freed.

The government has been drafting legislation since Friday to try to pre-empt the court’s April 17 ruling.

Opposition Home Affairs spokesman James Paterson said the coalition was only notified of the Commonwealth’s intention to introduce it to parliament on Tuesday with little more than an hour’s notice.

This gives them about 36 hours to pass the legislation if it is to be done before the end of the sitting week – the last before the High Court decision.

“Another day, another rushed patch-up job from a panicked government when it comes to broader protection, national security and community safety,” Senator Paterson told reporters in Canberra.

“Perhaps if it was in response to a genuine and urgent crisis that would be OK but this is an extraordinary demand to put on parliament, to put on all of us.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan also condemned the government’s “lack of transparency” but neither divulged details about the bill, saying it was up to the relevant government ministers to “do their jobs”.

Senator Paterson has called for a senate inquiry into the proposal to explore what the government is calling for, and why it is necessary.

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Without this, the coalition is concerned it could have unintended consequences and lead more refugees and asylum seekers to arrive on Australian shores.

The government has briefed the opposition, but Senator Paterson labelled its answers as “perfunctory”.

Its rushed response is similar to the fallout from the High Court’s NZYQ case when indefinite detention was ruled illegal.

In the aftermath, about 150 immigrants have been released into the community.

While some had serious criminal convictions, including for murder and rape, others faced less serious charges, and all of them served their time behind bars before being placed in immigration detention.

In response, the government fast-tracked legislation that imposed conditions on the former detainees including ankle-tracking devices and curfews, claiming this would “protect community safety”.

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