Anthony Albanese is under fire after it emerged seven murderers, 37 sex offenders and 72 violent criminals were released from immigration detention last year in the wake of a High Court ruling.
The federal government argues it was given little choice other than to release the 149 detainees after the High Court ruled that government-imposed indefinite detention is unlawful.
But the Coalition argues they should have done more to have a preventive detention regime in anticipation of the judicial ruling.
Following the decision, 80 people – mostly refugees but also some held for other reasons – were released immediately into the community, with experts warning 300 more cases could also be affected by the decision.
But now new documents have detailed the fallout with the Department of Home Affairs revealing new details about the so-called NZYQ cohort on Monday.
Documents tabled in the Senate on Monday morning reveal the 149 detainees released also included 16 domestic violence offenders, 13 drug traffickers, and five people convicted of people smuggling or other crimes of international significance.
Just five of those released had committed low-level crimes, or were not criminal offenders.
Liberal frontbencher James Paterson said the government was also yet to make a single preventive detention application under new laws introduced last year.
“Not one of them has been locked up under the preventive detention scheme,” he said.
“It’s now nearly two months since the parliament passed the preventive detention scheme, under pressure from the opposition. They haven’t applied to have one of these violent offenders taken off the streets.
“They have reoffended against Australians, they’ve been charged 18 times. I would be deeply concerned if any of these people were on the streets.”
In response to Coalition questions seeking information on the offences individuals in the cohort had been convicted of, the department revealed that those released included:
• 72 convicted for assault and violent offending, kidnapping, armed robbery
• 37 for sexually based offending, including child sex offending
• 16 for domestic violence and stalking
• 13 for serious drug offending
• Seven for murder and attempted murder
• There were fewer than five people released with “low level or no criminality”
“There’s no good excuse here,” Senator Patterson said. “We know that the minister had a very long break over the summer. Perhaps the officials had a long break too.”
The original landmark case involved a stateless Rohingya man born in the mid-1990s, who arrived in Australia by boat in 2012, and after was granted a bridging visa in 2014.
He was subsequently convicted over a sexual offence against a child two years later, and on release from prison, he was placed in immigration detention in 2018.
As a result of his conviction over a child sex offence, it was determined that he was no longer owed a protection visa, and because he could not be returned to his homeland he was effectively kept in indefinite detention.
Liberal leader Peter Dutton pushed for Labor to re-detain a cohort of non-citizens who cannot be deported in the wake of the High Court ruling.
“If I was writing the government’s policy, these people would be back in detention because we’re talking about some pretty serious criminals, and the first and foremost thought here is for the victims,” Mr Dutton said on Nine’s Today program last year.
Read related topics:Anthony AlbaneseImmigration