Former Labor leader Bill Shorten says those calling for ministers to be sacked over the release of 148 asylum seekers could also be pushing for High Court judges to be sacked as they were more to blame than politicians.
Two Albanian cabinet ministers are facing calls from the Coalition to resign after one of the freed detainees was charged with serious sexual assault just weeks after 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 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 that the mass release could have been avoided if the Labor government had released just one detainee: the Rohingya pedophile known as NZYQ, who has been detained since serving a sentence prison for child sexual abuse. abuse and on which case the High Court challenge was based.
But Disability Services Minister Bill Shorten said it made no sense to demand that politicians be sacked while the judges who handed down the ruling were immune from such action due to the separation of powers.
“The logic 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 High Court judges who make 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 believe there was some way around this, the reality is that the High Court has made its decision. “That is their right and prerogative in our judicial system.”
Shorten argued that both Immigration Minister Andrew Giles and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil had acted with “utmost speed” to bring in laws that would see released detainees remanded in custody if they were considered that they represented a risk to public safety.
“The High Court has made a decision, we have had to respond very quickly and today there is a bill in the Senate that (the Coalition) can vote on 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 was originally locked up because a South Australian judge deemed him a “danger to the Australian community” in 2016, following attacks on three elderly women in 2013 and 2014.
Police refused him bail to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Monday.
Meanwhile, another released refugee, Mohammed Ali Nadari, 45, has been charged with possession of cannabis in New South Wales.
Today Show presenter Sylvia Jeffreys argued to Mr 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 mistake, isn’t it?”
Shorten said the laws that were struck down as part of the High Court decision had been in place for 20 years and the previous government relied on them during their time in power.
Labor had opposed the court’s decision.
Tehan accused the government of failing to adequately prepare for the possibility that the High Court would rule that indefinite detention of immigrants was illegal.
“We would have made sure that in the months leading up to the High Court decision we were looking at what legislation we could put in place to keep the community safe,” he said.
“Warnings were issued that there was a real concern that these people would re-offend and sadly it appears that that is allegedly what happened.”
Under the amendments proposed by the federal government, preventive detention orders would apply to those released, including murderers and sex offenders, and are based on similar measures for high-risk terrorist offenders, Ms O’Neil said.
Home Secretary Clare O’Neil called for resignation
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles called for resignation
The exact number of released detainees to whom preventive detention orders would be applied is unknown.
Defense Minister Richard Marles backed his ministerial colleagues.
“What has happened here is that the High Court ruled against a law that was implemented by the Howard government and that was in place during the Turnbull and Morrison governments,” he told ABC Radio.
“The question is whether or not they (the opposition) are going to support strong legislation that imposes the strictest possible conditions on those who have been released.”
Asked by shadow attorney general Michaelia Cash why the government had released high-risk detainees, Foreign 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 see what they have to say,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“If we see a bad bill, we won’t support it.”
Greens senator Nick McKim called the laws a “race to the bottom” in refugee policy.
“Two different classes of people are created in this country under the law, depending on whether you are the holder of a particular class of visa or not,” he said.