New detention laws challenged in High Court

A released immigration detainee has been charged with sexual assault and stalking.

A released immigration detainee has been charged with sexual assault and stalking. Photo: AAP

The federal opposition says there was “no alternative” but to rush immigration detention laws through parliament, as the first High Court challenge to them is launched.

A Chinese refugee known as S151, who arrived on a student visa in September 2001, is seeking a court declaration that a curfew and electronic tracking bracelet now part of his bridging visa conditions amount to punishment.

The new measures were included in legislation which Labor and the coalition fast-tracked through parliament last week, after the government was forced by a High Court decision to release 93 people from immigration detention.

Court documents lodged on Wednesday on behalf of S151 say the legislation allows imposition of “conditions that are inherently punitive in nature”, exceeding the authority of the federal parliament.

His lawyers say curfews are “typical of criminal sentences and house arrest conditions, not of administrative visa regulations imposed by the executive (government)”.

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson stood by the legislation, which was necessary to protect the community.

Three murderers and several sex offenders are included in the group of released detainees, but many were also detained and awaiting deportation after committing more minor offences.

“There was no alternative but to rush it through,” Senator Paterson told ABC radio on Thursday.

“The alternative would see these people released in the community with no enforceable restrictions at all.

“In the end, we produced a bill that the government has described itself as constitutionally sound and I know they will rigorously defend it in the High Court in this challenge.”


Topics: Immigration
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