Plan to put serious offenders back in detention

Dominic Giannini and Andrew Brown |

Immigration detainees will soon be subject to similar detention regimes as high-risk terror offenders.

The federal government is set to introduce amendments this week to laws brought in to deal with the fallout from a High Court decision that ruled indefinite detention was illegal, resulting in the release of more than 140 detainees.

Under the amendments, preventative detention orders would apply to those released, which include murderers and sex offenders, and are based on similar measures for high-risk terror offenders.

For preventative detention to take effect, the immigration minister would need to apply to a court to have the person re-detained.

The detainee would have had to be charged for a crime that came with at least a seven-year sentence.

The court would need to be convinced the person posed an unacceptable risk to the community and that other visa conditions would not be adequate enough.

Should the court impose a preventative detention order, it would apply for three years but would need to be reviewed annually.

The exact number of released detainees the preventative detention orders would apply to is not known.

Breaching an order will carry a mandatory minimum sentence of one year behind bars and a maximum of five.

A supervision order may also be imposed on detainees if higher thresholds aren’t able to be reached in court for a detention order.

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.

“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.”

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

Coalition MPs were briefed on the detention laws on Monday ahead of their expected introduction to 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,” Mr Tehan 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.