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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Paul Karp Chief political correspondent

Two immigration detainees charged after release due to high court ruling

Clare O’Neil, Michael Outram and Andrew Giles
Home affairs minister Clare O’Neil, border force commissioner Michael Outram and immigration minister Andrew Giles after a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra last month. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The Coalition has renewed calls for the immigration and home affairs ministers to resign, after the revelation two people released as a result of the NZYQ high court decision have allegedly reoffended over the weekend.

The Australian Border Force said in a statement that two non-citizens – one in New South Wales and one in South Australia – have been charged after being released as a result of the recent high court decision. This was confirmed by the Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, on Monday.

The revelation comes as Labor seeks support for a preventive detention regime to allow the immigration minister to apply to courts to re-detain non-citizens convicted of serious sexual or violent crimes who were released from immigration detention.

In November the high court ruled that indefinite detention is unlawful, resulting in the plaintiff NZYQ and 147 others who are unable to be deported to be released.

A 65-year-old man released from immigration detention after the NZYQ decision 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.

The alleged assailant was a person staying at the hotel at the time. Police arrested the 65-year-old man after inquiries. He was refused bail and charged with two counts of indecent assault. He faced court on Monday morning.

New South Wales Police said officers stopped 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 arrested, taken to Granville police station and charged with drug possession.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the man faced Parramatta local court on Sunday and was bailed to face court again on Monday.

Wong told the Senate in question time on Monday that “both those matters are subject to court proceedings, so I’m not in a position to provide further detail at this stage”.

The shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, said that Andrew Giles and Clare O’Neil should resign “following news that two of the criminals released from immigration detention have already allegedly re-offended”.

“The government was asleep at the wheel when the high court handed down its decision that resulted in the release of criminals from immigration detention,” he said in a statement.

“They should have had a plan to protect the Australian people, including legislation for a preventive detention regime, ready to go.”

The government has consistently said it was prepared for the high court decision, establishing a joint operation between federal and state police in advance of the ruling.

In the week after the ruling Labor and the Coalition legislated an emergency bill imposing mandatory ankle bracelets and curfews on those released, with mandatory minimum sentences of one year in prison for breach of visa conditions.

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