Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has confronted a senior Labor minister over revelations dozens of criminals released under a high court ruling were not required to wear electronic ankle monitors.
Documents emerged on Monday showing that 18 former immigration detainees released after last year’s landmark NZYQ High Court ruling have been charged with criminal offences, with more than half convicted of assault and violent crimes.
It was later revealed the government did not re-detain any convicted individuals, despite passing preventative detention laws last year, and about 40 of 140 former detainees were not required to wear ankle bracelets.
In a standoff with Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians Malarndirri McCarthy on Tuesday, Senator Lambie demanded the government get a handle on the issue before someone “gets really, seriously hurt.”.
“If the Labor Party thinks that they’re worrying about the concerns of its citizens – I do not believe a word that is being said, because this is not concerning the safety of Australians,” she told Today.
“And I’ll tell you what, maybe it’s about time you [Labor] went back and wrote a decent bill where we have a choice of who comes here, who stays here and who goes.
“It is time to get tough on this.”
Among the 149 people released under last year’s ruling, there are seven convicted murderers or attempted murderers, 37 sex offenders and 72 other violent criminals, including kidnappers and armed robbers.
Government officials confirmed on Monday no preventive detention applications had been made, putting pressure on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to answer why.
Senator McCarthy argued public safety was “absolutely” a priority for the Labor government citing a quarter of $1 billion dollars put put into assisting the Australian Federal Police and border authorities.
“Why bring them here?” Senator Lambie fired back.
“Can you let me finish, Senator Lambie?,” Senator McCarthy responded.
“There is so much that has gone into the assistance of our security across the country. What happens now is that we do have a community protection board. We have people at the professional expertise level who can give advice. So come on, Senator Lambie, fair go. There is a lot of work being done on this.”
Foreshadowing a showdown during Senate Estimates next week, Senator Lambie said she intended to pressure the government to release details on who was reviewing the issue.
“You know what I’m giving you a fair go. And if you were right about the safety of Australians, every single one of them should have had a bracelet on them from day one,” she said.
Read related topics:Immigration