Labor’s preventive detention regime for people released as a result of the high court ruling on indefinite detention has passed the Senate with Coalition support, despite a political firestorm after a third former detainee was arrested.
Victoria police confirmed that a 33-year-old man, who was a registered sex offender, was arrested in Dandenong on Tuesday after allegedly breaching his reporting obligations. The man will face Dandenong magistrates’ court this afternoon.
“The 33-year-old was arrested in Dandenong this morning without incident,” Victoria Police said in a statement.
“He was subsequently interviewed by police and charged with nine counts of fail to comply with reporting obligations. He has also been charged with trespass in relation to a reported incident in Dandenong on 24 November.”
Police confirmed the man had been recently released after the NZYQ decision, in which the high court ruled that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful where it is not possible deport the non-citizen. The decision has resulted in the release of 148 people.
The arrest unleashed a political firestorm in Senate question time, where the shadow attorney general, Michaelia Cash, said that the “ringleader of a child exploitation gang” had allegedly breached conditions.
The Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, said that the government had no alternative but to release people because it was “not open to [it] to instruct public servants to act unlawfully”.
“We’ve done more in nine days than those opposite have done in nine years,” Wong told the Senate.
“Every single one [of the people released] arrived before the election. Every single one was still here because Peter Dutton failed to do his job [to deport them].”
Wong criticised the Coalition for voting with the Greens against a second bill to add stricter conditions on the visas of those released due to the NZYQ decision, and failing to confirm if it will vote for Labor’s preventive detention regime.
“Those opposite are only interested in fighting about this – we are working to fix it,” Wong said.
After question time, the Liberal leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham moved to immediately bring on debate about the migration bill, which contains the government preventive detention regime amendments.
Birmingham accused the government of the “real crime” of failing to legislate preventive detention before the court decision and release of detainees. This would have made a “profound difference” and prevented alleged crimes by those released, he said.
After Labor and the Coalition voted together to bring the bill on, Cash said the government are “finally” doing what the opposition leader had demanded, to allow “law enforcement agencies to lock up high risk individuals who have been roaming free”.
Cash revealed the Coalition will move a “modest” amendment requiring the minister to “report to parliament every time one of these dangerous individuals is released into the community”.
The amendment was voted down, but the Coalition and Labor combined to pass the bill shortly after 6:30pm. It will go to the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Earlier, the Greens senator, Nick McKim, accused the major parties of “a race to the bottom” to demonise refugees, with “xenophobic” legislation that “only applies to foreigners”.
The arrest comes after revelations on Monday that two other former detainees who were released under the high court ruling were arrested for alleged reoffending over the weekend.
The Australian Border Force said in a statement on Monday that two non-citizens – one in New South Wales and one in South Australia – had been charged after being released as a result of the recent high court decision.
A 65-year-old man released from immigration detention as part of that cohort appeared before Adelaide magistrates court on Monday charged with indecent assault.
In a statement released on Sunday, South Australian police said they had responded to a report that a woman had been indecently assaulted at a hotel on Saturday night.
In a separate incident, New South Wales police also arrested a 45-year-old man in Merrylands in Sydney’s west at 3pm on Saturday.
“Police will allege in court the man threw a number of resealable bags on the ground containing a substance believed to be cannabis,” the NSW police said in a statement.
The man was taken to Granville police station and charged with drug possession.
Registered sex offenders in Victoria are required to abide by strict reporting obligations and provide regular information updates to authorities about their personal circumstances.