Sunrise host Natalie Barr has confronted the Albanese government after three murderers and a number of sex offenders were released into the community following a landmark High Court decision.
The decision forced the government to release 80 immigrants in detention after ruling their indefinite detention – with no other country willing to take them – was illegal.
‘So far political debate has focused on who to blame rather than to fix it,’ Barr said, before confronting Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil told Seven’s Sunrise program on Wednesday.
‘Clare, a paedophile who raped a 10-year-old boy, a hitman who murdered a pregnant woman, do we know where they are?.’
O’Neil responded, saying: ‘Nat, can I say before I answer your question, those crimes and those people are absolutely despicable,’ the minister said.
‘I’m raising three children in this country and I can tell you that if there was anything in my power to keep these people in detention, I would absolutely do it.’
‘Yes, we do know where those people are.’
Ms O’Neil said the government was releasing people under ‘the strictest possible visa conditions’.
This includes notifying authorities about their location, in-person daily reporting and restrictions on working in certain types of industries.
‘It includes us continuously monitoring things like social media and email addresses and phone numbers and the like,’ she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the government is focused on keeping Australian’s safe and had argued against the High Court’s decision.
I remind Australians that we argued against this in the High Court,’ Mr Marles told Sunrise on Wednesday.
‘This is not our decision. But in the decision having been made by the High Court, these people have been released.
‘They’ve been put on bridging visas with the strictest possible conditions. That was something that the Government did straightaway.
‘We are continuing to assess what option we have here, which include potential legislative responses and we’ll be working on that very quickly.’
But Opposition Senator Jane Hume argued courts made decisions ‘all the time’ that overturn or override government decisions.
The government had taken its eye off the ball because they knew the court’s decision was coming and were unprepared, she told Seven.
‘Now we have 80 very dangerously, potentially, offenders out in the community,’ she said.
‘They knew a High Court decision was coming yet there is no legislative or regulatory response ready to go.’
Ms O’Neil said Senator Hume’s reasoning was ‘garbage’.
‘The idea that it is open to the Australian government to simply legislate away a High Court decision is not the way our Constitution works,’ she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles added the High Court has yet to release its full judgement, which makes the ‘situation more difficult’.
However, he explained the government will be placing the ‘strictest’ conditions on those released to ensure community safety.
‘Obviously the difficulty of the situation is much greater now that these people have been released and, again, this is not what we wanted,’ Mr Marles said.
‘The strictest possible conditions have been placed upon these people and we are wanting to make sure that the steps we take are legally robust and that they endure.
‘But, what the community needs to understand is first and foremost, our number one criteria, our number one focus is community safety.’
The Australian Federal Police commissioner has briefed his state and territory counterparts about the decision and a joint operation with the Australian Border Force has been established to co-ordinate their release.
Asked why the government didn’t have legislative or regulatory frameworks in place to deal with the issue, Labor minister Anika Wells said the High Court was yet to hand down the reasons for its decision.
‘So for us to capture and make sure this doesn’t happen again, we need to know the reason before we draft any legislative or regulatory measure for the house,’ she told Nine’s Today show.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has said the government sought prior advice about its options depending on a variety of outcomes of the court’s decision and continued to look at ‘all regulatory and legislative options’.