Bill Shorten has suggested ‘the High Court should resign’ over their landmark ruling that led to 148 asylum seekers being released from immigration detention.
Two ministers in the Albanese Labor cabinet are facing calls from the Coalition to resign after one of the 141 freed detainees was charged with a serious sexual assault within weeks of his release, and a second was arrested for drug offences.
Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said on Tuesday: ‘The time has come for the Prime Minister to do the right thing and ask for these ministers to resign, and if they don’t he should sack them.’
The pressure for heads to roll has only increased since it was revealed the Labor government only needed to release the one detainee – the Rohingya paedophile, known as NZYQ, who has been in detention since serving a prison sentence for child sexual abuse and whose case the High Court challenge was based on.
But Disability Services Minister Bill Shorten said the argument was flawed, and if that logic was followed it should be the judges who step down.
‘The logic of that is that the High Court should resign,’ he said.
Disability Services Minister Bill Shorten said if anyone should be forced to resign, it should be the High Court judges who made the decision
Afghan refugee Aliyawar Yawari was deemed a ‘danger to the Australian community’ by a South Australian judge in 2016 following attacks on three elderly women in 2013 and 2014
‘If you really think that there was some way to prevent this, the reality is the High Court has made its decision. That is their right and prerogative in our judicial system.’
Mr Shorten argued both Immigration Minister Andrew Giles and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil had moved with ‘utmost speed to introduce preventative detention laws’.
Those laws would grant the courts the power to place the former detainees back into preventative detention if they have reason to believe that they pose a risk to public safety.
‘The High Court has made a decision, we’ve had to respond very quickly and there is a law in the Senate today which [the Coalition] can vote for to keep people safe,’ he said.
The political debate comes as a 65-year-old man was charged with two counts of indecent assault after being released from indefinite detention following the High Court decision.
Afghan refugee Aliyawar Yawari originally locked up as he was deemed a ‘danger to the Australian community’ by a South Australian judge in 2016 following attacks on three elderly women in 2013 and 2014.
He was refused police bail to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Monday.
Meanwhile another released refugee, Mohammed Ali Nadari, 45, has been charged with cannabis possession in New South Wales.
Today Show host Sylvia Jeffreys argued to Shorten that both the Home Affairs and Immigration ministers ‘knew this decision was coming and they didn’t have a Plan B. That’s a rookie error, isn’t it?’
Mr Shorten said the laws which were reversed as part of the High Court decision had been in place for 20 years, and were relied upon by the previous government during their time in power.
Labor had opposed the court’s decision.
Mr Tehan accused the government of failing to adequately prepare for the possibility of the High Court ruling that indefinite immigration detention was illegal.
‘We would have been making sure that in the months leading up to the High Court decision that we were looking at what legislation we could put in place to keep the community safe,’ he said.
‘The warnings were put out that there was a real worry that these people would reoffend, and that, sadly, it looks like allegedly that is what’s happened.’
Under the Federal government’s proposed amendments, preventative detention orders would apply to those released, including murderers and sex offenders, and are based on similar measures for high-risk terror offenders, Ms O’Neil said.
There are calls for Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil to resign
There are calls for Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to resign
The exact number of released detainees the preventative detention orders would apply to is not known.
Defence Minister Richard Marles backed his ministerial colleagues.
‘What’s happened here is the High Court have ruled against a law that was put in place by the Howard government, it was there throughout the Turnbull and Morrison governments,’ he told ABC Radio.
‘The question is whether or not (the opposition) is going to be supporting strong legislation, which will put the strongest possible conditions on those who have been released.’
Asked by shadow attorney-general Michaelia Cash why the government had released the high-risk detainees, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said it was imperative to work within the court’s decision.
‘A shadow attorney-general should understand that a government under the Westminster system does not act like an autocratic dictatorship and actually does what the court says,’ Senator Wong told parliament on Monday.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Coalition would likely back the laws.
‘If the government has adequate measures to keep Australians safe, then we will support those measures and we’ll see what they have to say,’ he told reporters in Sydney.
‘If we see a bad bill, we’re not going to support it.’
Greens senator Nick McKim called the laws a ‘race to the bottom’ on refugee policy.
‘It creates two different classes of people in this country under the law, depending on whether you are the holder of a particular class of visa or not,’ he said.