Anthony Albanese was posing for selfies, signing autographs and providing pitch-side commentary at the cricket on a day when the asylum seeker crisis threatened to engulf his government after a fourth released detainee was arrested.
The beleaguered leader appeared relaxed in an open neck shirt and a short-brimmed Akubra hat as he mingled with spectators on day one of Prime Minister’s XI against Pakistan cricket match at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.
Mr Albanese even took a turn as a pitch-side commentator, cracking jokes with the Fox Sports team.
‘I was pretty ordinary but as a cricketer I was a good spectator,’ he laughed about his schooldays on the oval.
Anthony Albanese (pictured) appeared relaxed in an open neck shirt and a short-brimmed Akubra hat as he mingled with spectators on day one of Prime Minister’s XI against Pakistan cricket match at the Manuka Oval in Canberra
He even took a turn as a pitch-side commentator, cracking jokes with the Fox Sports team
‘I wasn’t too bad in the slips but we didn’t have a great cricket team, it’s got to be said,’ he added.
The Prime Minister, who attended St Mary’s Cathedral College in Sydney’s CBD, sought to burnish his working class credentials by explaining his school was ‘a bit rough and ready’ and performed better in the rugby league.
‘If you could tackle on the cricket field we would have been terrific,’ he joked.
The soft-ball interview came on a day when a fourth asylum seeker was arrested following a controversial High Court ruling last month.
A Sundanese-born man, 45, was arrested by Australian Federal Police officers at a Melbourne Hotel on Wednesday and charged with allegedly stealing luggage at Melbourne Airport from a traveller who was asleep and for failing to comply with a curfew.
He appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
The man is the fourth asylum seeker to be charged with offences after the High Court’s ruling on November 8, which found that indefinite detention was unlawful, allowed 148 non-citizens to be released from detention.
Among the group are a number of dangerous criminal who are now subject to surveillance measures such as ankle bracelet monitoring and curfews.
But three other freed detainees – including a convicted paedophile and a sex offender – have been arrested and charged in separate incidents.
Afghan refugee and convicted sex offender Aliyawar Yawari, 65, was charged with indecently assaulting a woman at a hotel in South Australia on Saturday.
The Prime Minister’s XI is an invitational cricket team picked by the Mr Albanese for an annual match held at the Manuka Oval against an overseas touring team
He was branded a ‘danger to the Australian community’ by a judge after he attacked three women and kicked down the door of an ageing mother.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Ali Nadari, 45, was arrested over drug charges in New South Wales.
Daily Mail Australia earlier revealed that Nadari has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, contravening an apprehended violence order, indecent assault, theft, larceny, resisting a police officer, drug possession and property related offences.
Convicted paedophile Emran Dad, 33, was also arrested in Dandenong, south-east of Melbourne, for allegedly making contact with minors on social media and breaching his reporting obligations.
He was also charged with trespassing after failing to leave a public arena in Dandenong on November 24.
Dad, who is from Afghanistan, was alleged to have run a prostitution ring that targeted underage girls in state care and was jailed for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in exchange for cigarettes.
The arrests mark a significant escalation in the crisis facing the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, who stands accused of failing a major leadership test over the issue.
Attorney General Mark Dreyfus lashed out at a Sky News reporter on Wednesday when asked if he would apologise to the Australian public for the debacle.
An irate Mr Dreyfus branded the question ‘absurd’ and hectored the journalist for attempting to interrupt him.
‘You are asking a Cabinet Minister of the Crown to apologise for upholding the law of Australia, for acting in accordance with the law of Australia, for following the instructions of the High Court of Australia,’ he said.
‘I will not be apologising for upholding the law.’
On Wednesday night, the government is expected to pass new laws implementing preventative detention measures to deal with asylum seekers who had serious criminal records.
This would effectively allow police to re-detain any non-citizen released under the High Court ruling depending on their likelihood of reoffending and their criminal history.
It is unclear how many non-citizens the new preventative detention laws would apply to.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the Government was hamstrung by the High Court decision.
‘If it were up to me, all these people would never have been released from detention,’ she said.