Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Question Time

Immigrant Detention

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:05): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Attorney-General about immigration detainees in South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S. LEE: On 8 November 2023, in the Australian High Court decision for NZYQ v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, the Australian High Court ruled indefinite immigration detention to be unlawful, resulting in the release of individuals, many of whom had their visas cancelled due to character concerns and criminal offences. The Guardian article published on 10 November reported that:

The document shows that 21 of their cases were referred to the home affairs minister for character concerns relating to 'national security, cybercrime, serious and high profile organised/gang related, high ranking [outlaw motorcycle gangs] member'.

A further 27 were referred to Giles for concerns related to very serious 'violent offences, crimes against children, family/domestic violence' or 'violent, sexual or exploitative offences against women'.

Some 35 were character decisions made by delegates of the minister. The document warns that the former three categories do 'not necessarily reflect the severity of the character concerns'.

Senator Murray Watt, during question time on Thursday 9 November, said that 'where serious offenders are released from immigration detention, state and territory authorities are notified'. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. Since Senator Murray Watt informed the federal parliament that 'where serious offenders are released from immigration detention, state and territory authorities are notified', can the Attorney-General confirm whether the state government has been notified of any serious offenders released in South Australia?

2. Can the Attorney-General inform this council how many of the detainees released, or likely to be released, are currently in South Australia?

3. What is the Attorney-General's plan to monitor the released detainees, with consideration for the safety of the community?

4. Can the Attorney-General confirm what the government's arrangement with the federal government is to receive instructions to manage the released detainees, seeing as this is a critical ongoing matter for the safety of our children, families and communities?

5. Can the Attorney-General confirm whether the Malinauskas government has created a task force with SAPOL to facilitate monitoring of the released detainees? What assurance will the government provide to our community, who may be fearful for their safety?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:08): I thank the honourable member for her question. I am happy to answer this question almost identically to how I answered a question in the last sitting week on this matter. I am advised that the—

An honourable member: Are you going to take it more seriously this time?


The Hon. K.J. MAHER: —Commissioner for Police has publicly mentioned that approximately five of those expected to be released from immigration detention have links to South Australia and might reasonably be expected to come to South Australia. The commissioner, I am advised, has advised that there is national coordination occurring between law enforcement agencies across Australia and that SAPOL is prepared to dedicate the resources as needed.

As I said the last time this question was asked in an almost identical manner, I have confidence in SAPOL's ability to respond to this issue as needed.