EDITORIAL: One rash move to another in detention omnishambles

The Nightly
3 Min Read
It’s become clear that no one in Labor — least of all Andrew Giles — has any idea on what they can do to fix the situation.
It’s become clear that no one in Labor — least of all Andrew Giles — has any idea on what they can do to fix the situation. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

For those who’ve lost count, Labor’s latest piece of last minute legislation to help deal with the fall out arising from the High Court’s ruling last year that indefinite detention illegal was the third since this sorry saga began.

First there were laws to add conditions, including electronic monitoring and curfews, to the bridging visas of those former detainees freed as a result of the ruling.

That didn’t go far enough to quell community concerns about the tide of criminals — rapists and murderers among them — who had been let out into the community because of the bungle.

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So new emergency legislation was passed allowing the Government to lock up the worst of the worst on a preventative basis, instead of waiting around for them to commit new crimes.

And now, the Government is rushing legislation through Parliament to give it the power to make it easier to deport people against their will, even if they have a genuine fear of harm or persecution in their home country.

The new laws will force non-citizens under deportation orders to get out of the country or face up to five years in jail.

It will also give the Federal Government powers to block visa applications from anyone seeking to come to Australia from “removal concern countries”, that is nations which do not accept citizens being involuntarily returned.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles says the Bill — introduced just before Parliament rises for a six-week break — will strengthen Australia’s migration system, “making it better, stronger and fairer and ensuring it is working in Australia’s national interest”.

That didn’t wash with members from the Coalition and crossbench, furious at having again been lumped with last minute legislation.

Shadow immigration minister Dan Tehan called Labor’s handling of the detention saga — which has dragged on since November and is expected to create years of legal tumult — as an “ultra-marathon in incompetence”.

“Everything this Government does with regard to immigration detention is rushed, is chaotic, is botched. And there is a complete and utter lack of transparency,” Mr Tehan said.

Mr Tehan said he had been offered just a 20 minute briefing on the legislation, and a 24-hour deadline to pass it.

It appears the Government is simply lurching from one rash move to another as it tries to make up for its complete lack of preparation six months ago when the initial case was making its way through the court system.

It’s become clear that no one in Labor — least of all Andrew Giles — has any idea on what they can do to fix the situation now the toothpaste is out of the tube.

Giles’ shambolic handling of the situation has shown he’s clearly out of his depth in the portfolio.

Yet Anthony Albanese has so far resisted pressure to remove him from Cabinet.

But with more legal challenges on the way and another stuff-up seemingly a matter of when, not if, it remains to be seen how much longer he will be able to maintain that stance.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by The Nightly Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie.

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