Mad rush to clean up ’botched’ law

Dan Tehan has slammed Labor’s lack of transparency. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Non-citizens from certain countries would face up to five years behind bars if they refuse to co-operate with attempts to deport them under a rush to pass new migration laws.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles brought on the last minute legislation on Tuesday which the Greens have slammed as an alternative pathway to indefinite detention.

The changes will also block visa applications outside of Australia who do not accept their citizens being involuntarily returned, such as Iran.

Mr Giles described the legislation, which he is trying to ram through before parliament rises for a six-week break, as “important tools to strengthen our migration system”.

The laws would make refusing to co-operate with a direction an offence, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 months in jail and a maximum of five years.

“Noncooperation with removal processes demonstrates a disregard for Australian laws,” the explanatory memorandum states.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has been under pressure about his handling of the portfolio. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Speaking in the House, Greens leader Adam Bandt condemned the fast-tracked legislation.

“This is Labor desperately trying to outflank the Coalition in a race to the bottom on immigration, which is only going to whip up attacks on migrants and more racism in our community,“ he said.

The Bill was introduced just weeks before the High Court is due to hear a case involving an Iranian man, known as ASF17, who is refusing to return to Iran where he fears persecution because of his sexuality.

Iran also refuses to accept its citizens who have been involuntarily returned.

The question facing the court is whether someone must be released from immigration detention if their refusal to co-operate is preventing them from being deported.

Labor has been under pressure over its handling of the fallout of the ruling in the NZYQ case in which the High Court outlawed indefinite detention, prompting the release of 150 non-citizens into the community.

Many of those released had been convicted of serious crimes including murder and rape.

Dan Tehan has fired up about the last-minute legislation. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The surprise drop of the latest Bill on Tuesday morning angered the Coalition who questioned were incensed by the 24-hour deadline to pass it.

Immigration spokesperson Dan Tehan said he was only offered a 20 minute briefing about 8am that morning.

“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,” he said.

“This legislation is dated Friday, last Friday, so the government has sat on this all weekend and has come to us at the last minute today to hand it over to us.”

The Coalition will have another chance to question officials about the proposal after the government agreed to hold a short Senate committee hearing on Tuesday evening.