Immigrants could face jail if they refuse deportation – as government rushes to address another High Court decision

Asylum seekers who refuse to be deported could face up to five years in jail under laws the government is attempting to rush through parliament before the High Court delivers another decision on indefinite detention.

A leaked explanatory memorandum of the bill claimed changes were needed to “strengthen the integrity of the migration system” by making it easier for immigrants to be deported.

It will give Immigration Minister Andrew Giles powers to direct asylum seekers and other immigrants to “do specified things” that would facilitate their deportation.

Any citizens from countries that do not accept those deported from Australia could also have their visa applications barred in an attempt to incentivise co-operation from other nations.

Introducing the legislation to parliament on Tuesday, Mr Giles said the government was committed to strengthening Australia’s migration system.

“Making it better, stronger and fairer and ensuring it is working in Australia’s national interest,” he said.

“We need these important tools to strengthen our migration system.”

The Government’s Home Affairs minister Clare O’Neil this month was under fire after it was revealed she relied on verbal advice only for the previous High Court ruling 

Opposition Home Affairs spokesman James Paterson claimed it was 'rushed patch-up job' to get through the new legislation

Opposition Home Affairs spokesman James Paterson claimed it was ‘rushed patch-up job’ to get through the new legislation 

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.

“Non-co-operation with removal processes demonstrates a disregard for Australian laws,” the memorandum reads.

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the coalition received little more than an hour’s notice the Commonwealth intended to introduce the legislation to parliament on Tuesday.

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.

“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,” Senator Paterson said.

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” and unveil the legislation.

Greens leader Adam Bandt slammed the government’s approach as extraordinary.

“Nothing was put forward that justifies us losing the usual rights that everyone in this parliament has to consider such important legislation,” he said.

Warringah MP Zali Steggall said she was “deeply disappointed” Labor was trying to rush through laws without giving enough time to seriously consider the implications.

“Shame, shame on every member of government for supporting … something that is deeply, deeply undemocratic,” she said.

The government’s 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 were 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.