Anthony Albanese slams Coalition for teaming up with crossbench to delay deportation laws

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A frustrated Anthony Albanese has hit out after he was dealt a humiliating blow while trying to ram through laws to make it easier to deport non-citizens.

The Prime Minister was on the defensive on Thursday morning, accusing the Coalition of playing politics by teaming up with the crossbench to delay the proposal until May 7.

“This was a clear need to fill a gap that was left open, to close a loophole that was left open by the previous government,” he told 2SM.

“You can’t have a situation whereby someone can come here on a tourist visa, for example, and just say, ‘I’m not going, I’m not leaving and I won’t co-operate with leaving’.”

The proposed powers would have forced an asylum seeker who had exhausted all legal avenues to comply with efforts to remove them, such as applying for a passport from their home country, or face a jail sentence of up to five years.

It would also grant the minister the power to pause visa processing from countries that do not accept their citizens being involuntarily returned, such as Iran, Iraq, South Sudan and Russia.

Labor was left bruised after the Senate derailed its plans to pass the laws just 48 hours after it introduced them, referring it to a full inquiry for further scrutiny.

Mr Albanese suggested it had more to do with political point scoring than concern for national security.

He also criticised the opposition for leaving the door open to recalling the parliament at a “great cost” at a later date to deal with the laws.

“We gave appropriate briefings to the opposition, to crossbenchers, this is clear legislation that is required,” Mr Albanese said.

“The opposition voted for it on Tuesday and voted against it on Wednesday. They voted for it because of the policy, they voted against it because they want to play politics.”

Labor introduced the Bill just weeks before the High Court is due to hear a case involving an Iranian man, known as ASF17, who is refusing to return to Iran where he fears persecution because of his sexuality.

Iran does not accept citizens who have been returned against their will.

On Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil refused to link the upcoming hearing to the laws but conceded the case showed “that it is important that we have these powers”.

Coalition senate leader Simon Birmingham said the government had not established “that there was valid urgency for this legislation”.

“The government has not suggested that it believes these laws could change the verdict of the High Court and certainly … officials from the department definitely resisted making any such suggestion. “

He labelled any suggestion the Coalition delaying the Bill could make it responsible should the High Court order the release of detainees “preposterous”.

Last year, the High Court caught the government off guard when the landmark NZYQ ruling ordered the release of 152 non-citizens from immigration detention.

Officials revealed 73 of the 152 people in the cohort were not required to wear electronic monitoring devices in a late-night hearing on Wednesday.

They could also not confirm whether any of the detainees’ seven convicted murderers, 37 convicted sex offenders or 72 convicted violent offenders were among that group.

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