Marles backs immigration minister after brutal bashing

Andrew Brown |

A former immigration detainee is accused of bashing a Perth grandmother unconscious.
A former immigration detainee is accused of bashing a Perth grandmother unconscious.

The government has resisted opposition calls for the immigration minister to be sacked after a Perth grandmother was allegedly assaulted by a freed immigration detainee.

A 43-year-old man, who had been released from immigration detention following a controversial High Court ruling, was one of three people arrested over the alleged assault and robbery of Ninette Simmons, 73, earlier in April.

West Australian police say the trio assaulted Ms Simmons’ 76-year-old husband Philip and tied his hands behind his back before stealing $200,000 in jewellery.

They gained access to the couple’s home by posing as police officers.

The former detainee was one of 154 men released from immigration detention in November after the High Court ruled indefinite detention was unlawful.

It has been reported he was on bail for a previous breach of curfew orders.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton called for Immigration Minister Andrew Giles and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil to be sacked following the alleged assault.

Assault victim Ninette Simmons
Police say Ninette Simmons was brutally injured during a robbery at her Perth home. (Supplied/AAP PHOTOS)

“It’s clear to most Australians … except for (Prime Minister) Anthony Albanese that these ministers can’t continue in their jobs,” he said on Tuesday.

“They’ve made decisions which have obviously led to a situation where Australians are at risk, and I don’t think Australians will tolerate that.”

But Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles defended the two ministers.

“Those ministers are doing an excellent job, obviously this incident is deeply concerning. Our thoughts are very much with those who are concerned,” he told Sky News.

“The cohort (of freed detainees) are now under strict supervision orders … we’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety of Australians.”

Arrest of a recently freed detainee from immigration detention
The accused men are alleged to have impersonated police to gain access to the couple’s home. (Supplied/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Albanese expressed sympathy for the assault victims, saying many in the community would be thinking about the couple.

“Our thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all Australians, will be with those who’ve been affected by this,” he told reporters in Alice Springs on Tuesday.

“It’s inappropriate to comment further, given it’s in the middle of the investigation by WA Police. Of course, state bail schemes are run by the states, by definition, as well.”

In a separate matter, a 45-year-old Sudanese man was arrested by federal police on Monday for not complying with their visa-mandated curfew and maintaining a monitoring device.

He appeared in court on Monday shortly after his arrest and was granted bail.

Police allege the man breached his visa conditions on three occasions between April 20 and April 29.

The matter will return to court on May 22.

AAP