Federal government urged to intensify response to immigration detention after preventative legislation passes Senate

Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

   The Senate has greenlit the federal government's preventative detention regime with bipartisan support following controversy over the High Court's NZYQ ruling. There's mounting pressure on the Labor Party to swiftly re-detain the "hardcore criminals" released from custody.

Tuesday's Senate Question Time witnessed a barrage of attacks on Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, with Coalition Senators expressing frustration over the re-arrest of immigration detainees within a month of their release. The opposition blamed the Albanese government for not enacting robust preventative laws, while Labor countered, stating that the Coalition and Greens initially opposed laws for stricter visa conditions.

Following the heated session, the opposition leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham, moved to debate the Migration Amendment Bill 2023, which passed with combined Labor and Coalition approval. Shadow attorney-general Michaelia Cash, though advocating for a tougher preventative regime, cautioned that the bill alone doesn't guarantee protection unless Labor ministers take decisive action.

While Senator Cash deemed the fallout since the NZYQ decision an "utter disaster," she attributed it to the government's actions, not the High Court. She highlighted recent arrests, including a sex offender breaching reporting requirements in Victoria and two other detainees facing charges.

Despite ongoing criticism, the government maintains it opposed the High Court decision and never supported releasing detainees into the community. During Question Time, Minister Wong emphasized the separation of powers and disclaimed any ability to instruct public servants unlawfully.

The amended migration bill is set to move to the House of Representatives on Thursday. The situation underscores the need for bipartisan action to address the concerns raised by the NZYQ ruling and its aftermath.