General view of the High Court in Canberra.
A High Court decision forced the government to release 80 immigrants in detention into the community Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Laws flagged to deal with court decision on detention

November 15, 2023

The federal government will “shortly” introduce laws to address a High Court decision forcing the release of immigrants held in indefinite detention.

The coalition has pushed ministers on the potential threat posed by criminals, including three murderers and a number of sex offenders, released into the community after the court found indefinite immigration detention was unlawful.

Last week’s decision by the High Court forced the government to release 83 immigrants after ruling their indefinite detention – with no other country willing to take them – was illegal.

Leader of the Government in the Senate Penny Wong said work was progressing on the laws.

“The government intends to introduce legislation shortly to further respond to the decision of the High Court,” she told parliament on Wednesday.

“We look forward to the opposition assisting with the passage of that legislation as soon as possible.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton told parliament he would be willing to keep coalition MPs in Canberra for as long as it took this week to pass the laws.

“That is the first priority for this prime minister,” he said.

“What is happening is these people, having committed significant rapes and assaults and murders against Australian citizens, are being released into the community and you stand condemned.”

Anthony Albanese said the opposition leader had argued during the Indigenous voice debate “the parliament cannot out-legislate the constitution”, but was now contradicting that stance.

“They (the coalition government) were responsible for a decade for the legislation that’s been thrown out by the High Court,” he told parliament.

The Greens lashed the move and accused the government of letting Mr Dutton write the legislation.

“Peter Dutton has been demonising refugees for decades. It would be an utter disgrace if Labor were to work with Peter Dutton, not just to draft up legislation for more torture of refugees, but to collude with him to jam it through the parliament,” Greens senator Nick McKim said.

The Australian Federal Police commissioner has briefed his state and territory counterparts about the decision and a joint operation with the Australian Border Force has been established to co-ordinate their release. 

Mr Dutton said Australians were less safe because of the government’s action.

“There will have been arguments, there will have been understandings by the government solicitors in relation to the matters and the facts of this case, and it is well and truly within their grasp (to legislate),” he said.