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Former detainees face tough penalties under new laws

Long-term immigration detainees, including criminals, freed into the community following a landmark High Court ruling face mandatory jail stints and ankle monitoring bracelets under tough new laws.

Emergency legislation to change visa rules passed federal parliament on Thursday night after the government rushed to introduce new protections amid community safety concerns.

But CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Kon Karapanagiotidis warns the laws could be discriminatory and undermine the independence of the High Court.

Although some murderers and rapists are among the 84 asylum seekers released, they have completed sentences for their crimes in correctional facilities.

But instead of being freed into the community after serving their time, they were placed into indefinite immigration detention, which the court last week deemed unlawful.

Mandatory electronic monitoring and curfews, in addition to mandatory minimum jail terms for people who breach their conditions, are among the six amendments agreed to by the government.

Some former detainees will also be barred from being within 150 metres of a school or daycare centre, while no-contact conditions can be placed on the visas of those who have been convicted of sexual assault or violence offences.

Mr Karapanagiotidis called the laws "draconian, unjust and discriminatory".

"These men have served their time, some of them for offences that are not serious in nature, or that were done when they were young people more than a decade ago," he said on Friday.

"(The laws) undermine judicial independence, it leads to unjust outcomes which can be discriminatory in nature.

"And that's what they've just done, discriminate against people based on their citizenship status, and how they came to this country."

Labor struck a deal with the opposition on Thursday, agreeing to amendments to secure the support it needed to clear the legislation.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the safety of the community remained the highest priority.

"From the moment the High Court handed down its decision we have been implementing measures to keep the community safe," he told parliament.

Asked about the cost of ankle monitoring, Education Minister Jason Clare said the measures were about ensuring Australians' safety.

"This is not about money, this is about safety," he told Seven's Sunrise on Friday.

"The fact is, if these people were locked up in prison, it would cost five times as much.

"If we had our way, these people would still be locked up but that's not an option."

Mr Clare said he had never seen the parliament respond so quickly to a High Court decision.

But Greens leader Adam Bandt accused the government of letting Opposition Leader Peter Dutton write the legislation after a "misleading scare campaign" based upon a career "demonising migrants and refugees".

Australian Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.
Peter Dutton says newly freed migrants who committed serious crimes should be back in detention.

Mr Dutton said if he had been allowed to do so those newly freed would be back in detention, and criticised the government for not moving faster, citing the pain of victims.

"They're in tears. These are victims of rape, kids as young as 10 who have been sexually molested," he told Nine's Today show on Friday.

"These are the worst of people and they're not even Australian citizens and that's why they shouldn't be out in the community."

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has continued to oppose the legislation, decrying it as a way to circumvent the court's ruling and as creating a two-tiered legal system for migrants and Australians.

"This was an extraordinary bill pushed through at haste - rammed through - all because Peter Dutton is calling the shots" she told Sky News on Friday.

"He smelt fear, he went straight into fear mongering, whipping that up and taking the opportunity ... (it was) extraordinary scenes to see the Labor government go weak at the knees."

The High Court is yet to release the reasoning behind its decision to overturn a 20-year precedent.