Dutton push for ‘migration zones’ for people released from immigration detention rejected as ‘stuff of tyranny’ | Australian immigration and asylum


Peter Dutton has claimed that “migration zones” could be set up to deal with people released from detention by the high court, a suggestion immediately rejected as nonsensical and unconstitutional.

The opposition leader made the comments on Friday morning in an interview boasting about Labor caving in to his demands to toughen restrictions on people released from detention in response to the high court decision on indefinite detention.

On Thursday evening parliament passed a bill imposing electronic monitoring and curfews on those released on bridging visas due to the decision, with breaches of conditions now punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison.

At the Apec summit in San Francisco, Anthony Albanese said he was “fully involved” in the decision to agree to Coalition amendments, announced by the acting prime minister, Richard Marles, in question time on Thursday.

On Friday Dutton was asked how he would deal with the 84 people released so far if he were prime minister, and if deportation was the solution.

Dutton told FiveAA Radio: “Well, it is, and the government should be making a greater effort and pulling out every diplomatic leverage that they’ve got to get rid of these people and return them back to their country of origin.

“There are migration zones that can be set up, there’s the option the government seriously needs to consider, which is a preventive detention order, and they’re all available to the government.”

Dutton’s suggestion appears to be a reference to a Howard-era policy to excise parts of Australia from the migration zone in a bid to prevent people arriving by boat from claiming asylum.

The acting legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre, Sanmati Verma, said “Peter Dutton cannot create an island free from the constitution of Australia”.

“He cannot magically repose the government with power to impose blanket punishment on people it does not like,” she told Guardian Australia.

“That is the stuff of tyranny that the constitution was designed to protect all of us from.”

People who arrive in places excised from the migration zone “may have a different status as a matter of statute, but not as a matter of our constitution”, she said.

“Peter Dutton having thought bubbles about how to respond to reasons that have not yet been issued is a dangerous exercise. The government needs to stop taking legal and political advice from him.”

The Greens senator Nick McKim said Dutton’s suggestion was “batshit crazy”.

“The power that Labor has ceded to Peter Dutton this week has clearly gone to his head,” he said.

“This is what the first day of a Peter Dutton prime ministership would look like and it’s a terrifying vision.”

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The Albanese government asked six countries to take NZYQ, the stateless Rohingya man whose visa was cancelled because he raped a 10-year-old, who successfully challenged indefinite detention in the high court. None of the countries agreed.

The 92 people identified by the home affairs department as likely to be affected by the ruling cannot be deported because they are stateless, are owed protection obligations or have “intractable” cases.

Dutton claimed the government had “fallen on the side of the rights of the individuals who have committed these crimes and they’ve forgotten about the individuals who are victims”.

Dutton told the House of Representatives on Thursday that Labor had “taken a decision not to re-detain these serious criminals”, appearing to call for detention by the executive government of the type found unlawful by the high court.

The home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, accused Dutton of telling a “consistent falsehood” that the government had a choice to re-detain people freed by the court, claiming he knew this to be “untrue”.

“If I had any legal power to keep these people in detention, I would … We do not have that, that is what the high court has told us.”

On Friday the shadow home affairs minister, James Paterson, told Sky News he was “pleased the government had caved in” to opposition demands.

The Coalition will continue to push for consideration of whether terrorist-style “preventive detention, continuing detention and control orders can be applied at the very least to the higher risk offenders in this cohort”, he said.

Guardian Australia contacted Dutton for comment.


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