Beefed up detention laws to be nutted out in parliament

Dominic Giannini and Andrew Brown |

The government and coalition are set to nut out the finishing touches of a regime that will treat released immigration detainees like terrorist offenders.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil is working on an expansion of the preventative detention regime that applies to terrorists.

Ms O’Neil wants the same principle applied to a cohort of more than 140 former immigration detainees who were released after a High Court decision ruled indefinite detention was illegal.

The cohort includes murderers and sex offenders as well as others who were convicted of minor crimes and were awaiting deportation.

Under the new measures, those people recently released will be able to be re-detained if a court is satisfied there is “a high degree of probability that the person poses an unacceptable risk of committing a serious violent or sexual offence”.

The legislation would also make it a criminal offence for people who have been convicted of serious or violent sexual offences to go near a school or contact their victim or their victim’s family.

The maximum length of the order is three years and the minister will need to reapply to the court for a review every year.

Enhanced supervision of an offender being released can also be put in place for three years if the court finds they’re a risk to the community “on the balance of probabilities”.

This can also carry extra requirements, such as the person needing to report to police and update them if their details change.

The order would again last for a maximum of three years and need to be reviewed by the court every 12 months.

Breaching this order carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year behind bars and a maximum of five.

The coalition has also been calling for preventative detention.

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said the coalition would work with the government to get the laws right.

Shadow Minister for Immigration Dan Tehan.
Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan says the coalition will help get the laws right. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

“We’ll work as cooperatively with them as they will let us, and hopefully, it will be proper bipartisanship,” he told Sky News on Monday.

“It’s also important that the government doesn’t take its eye off the ball in finding countries that will take the detainees.”

Mr Tehan said the opposition would be briefed on the proposed detention laws later on Monday morning before they were debated in parliament.

“We’re not going to put our vote towards a bad piece of legislation, so let’s see how the government goes about it this time, whether they really want to engage with us properly,” he said.

“We know that there are people out there looking to challenge these laws again in the High Court, so it’ll very much depend on the government and the approach they take.”

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie said the laws needed to be passed as soon as possible.

“I would ask that (Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton) actually get to the table and get this sorted because both of them, if they don’t get this sorted, will be held responsible if anything happens to the safety of Australians over the Christmas period,” she told Sky News.

“If that means that Labor has to go a little bit more hardcore on this thing, go do it.”

But a former national security watchdog has branded the measure a disgrace.

Former Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Grant Donaldson had previously called for an end to preventative detention orders being used.

He doubts the laws will make the community safer.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young accused the government of kowtowing to fear being spread by Mr Dutton.