Prime Minister Anthony Albanese insists detainee decisions are made at arm’s length of politicians

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Credit: AAP

Anthony Albanese is continuing to insist that decisions on the monitoring of former immigration detainees are made at arm’s length of politicians as the fallout to the bashing of Perth grandmother Ninette Simons rages on.

The Prime Minister is refusing to accept claims that Immigration Minister Andrew Giles is ultimately responsible for the decision to allow the former immigration detainee charged over the incident to remove his ankle monitoring device, instead pinning blame on the Government’s hand-picked community safety board.

Mr Albanese said last week that the board had made the “wrong decision” after it was advised that Majid Jamshidi Doukoshkan did not need GPS tracking under the conditions of a new visa issued in March.

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He stood by his comment on Monday morning.

But the board does not have decision-making powers — it only offers recommendations to Mr Giles or an official acting as his delegated.

The Nightly confirmed last week that Mr Giles had been delegating decisions on visa conditions to an official.

Fronting reporters in Canberra on Monday, Mr Albanese was asked directly if he accepted the board was only there to provide advice and the minister was ultimately responsible for the decision.

“No, the processes that are in place are to ensure that decisions when it comes to these things have integrity and are at arm’s length,” he said.

Mr Albanese said the Hight Court judgment on the NZYQ case — which ruled indefinite detention was unlawful and led to the release of 152 detainees — held that politicians could not make decisions that were punitive.

The comment was a reference to the court’s finding that government-imposed indefinite detention was punitive and therefore a breach in the separation of powers between the executive and the courts.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said it would not be “appropriate nor legally sound” for decisions about visa conditions to be made without expert advice, which was why the board was established.

She conceded the decision-making process was not independent given the board was making recommendations to Home Affairs officials.

Shadow immigration minister Dan Tehan said the buck stopped with Mr Giles.

“Andrew Giles is not a passive person in this and neither is his delegate, the person authorised to make decisions on his behalf,” he told The Nightly.

“Their job is not to rubber-stamp whatever gets put in front of them.”

The Nightly has repeatedly asked Federal authorities to confirm the reasoning behind the board’s recommendation but is yet to receive a response.

There is no public record of the board’s meetings and recommendations.

The first monthly update on the number of freed detainees and the conditions they are subject to has yet to be released — more than six weeks after it was promised.

Ms O’Neil said it was still the intention to publish the update but could not say when.

“We will get to that shortly — I just can’t give you an exact date,” she told ABC radio in Melbourne.

Shadow home affairs minister James Paterson said the reasons for the board’s recommendation on Mr Doukoshkan’s case needed to be made public.

He said the Government also had to explain why the recommendation was accepted.

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