High Court decision could undermine Australia’s ‘stop the boats’ policy, says Dutton

Australia’s decade-long policy of turning away asylum seekers along the maritime border could fall apart after the government’s hasty response to a High Court decision, the opposition leader says.

Dec 01, 2023, updated Dec 01, 2023
Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton. (AAP Image/Nikki Short)

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton. (AAP Image/Nikki Short)

In early November, the High Court unanimously ruled indefinite immigration detention to be unlawful, overturning a two-decade-old precedent that the justices found had given politicians powers which should have been reserved for the judiciary.

This prompted the release of about 140 detainees as the government rushed through legislation in an effort to contain and trace them.

Though some newly freed immigrants were convicted of serious offences such as child abuse and murder, others had faced charges for traffic offences, and all had served their entire sentences before being placed in unlawful immigration detention.

Peter Dutton claimed the government’s response would undo the work of Operation Sovereign Borders, a border protection campaign set up in 2013 after the Liberal party successfully won their election on a “stop the boats” platform.

It implemented a zero-tolerance approach to refugees and asylum seekers who had travelled thousands of kilometres on cramped and often dangerous fishing boats to reach Australian shores.

“This whole debacle is likely to unwind Operation Sovereign Borders because they’ve admitted to the people smugglers that they don’t have control of the system,” Mr Dutton told Nine’s Today show on Friday.

“This is a huge, huge scandal.”

But Education Minister Jason Clare said Australia’s border policy remained consistent.

“If you try and get on a rickety boat and come to Australia, you’ll get turned back, or you’ll get sent to a country like Nauru, or you’ll get sent back to your country of origin,” he told Sunrise on Friday.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“It’s important to point out here: that was the policy under the former government, it’s the policy under us.”

Following the court decision, the government passed laws that would subject the newly released immigrants to a curfew from 10pm to 6am every day, require them to wear ankle tracking bracelets, and increase capacity to bring prosecutions if they breach visa conditions.

Politicians have also allocated $255 million to enforce these changes.

Legal experts and refugee advocates maintain the laws are an over-reach that penalise non-citizens, given that Australian citizens who’ve served jail sentences for the same crimes are generally released into the community without any restrictions.

According to Australian Border Force deputy commissioner Tim Fitzgerald, of the 145 immigrants released from indefinite detention, 142 required ankle monitors, and 140 have now been fitted.

The ABF’s October update on Operation Sovereign Borders revealed there were no new unauthorised maritime arrivals that month while 14 who had previously reached Australia were resettled in a third country.

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy