Released asylum seekers won’t jeopardise public safety: Wong

The High Court ruled asylum seekers can't be held indefinitely.

The High Court ruled asylum seekers can't be held indefinitely.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has vowed community safety will remain the highest priority ahead of the imminent release of prisoners from immigration detention.

A landmark High Court ruling in Wednesday found indefinite detention unlawful, overturning a 20-year precedent.

The plaintiff in the case, a Rohingya man from Myanmar known as NZYQ, has been released, faced the prospect of life in detention as no country would settle him because he raped a 10-year-old child.

At least 92 detainees who can’t return to their original countries may be freed and another 340 in long-term detention could join them, the court was told.

Senator Wong said the government was working closely with police ahead of the release of further detainees.

“Our first priority in approaching this decision is to assure community safety, so anyone who is released will be released on visas with strict conditions,” she told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“We are ensuring that the Australian Federal Police and Border Force are working closely with state and territory police to support community safety.”

The foreign minister said the government was going through the full implication of the court’s decision.

“This is not the government’s choice, this is a decision of the High Court of Australia, which any government is bound to follow,” she said.

“People are being released with conditions, and we will ensure that law enforcement authorities, federal and state, work together.”

Opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie said the government had been “flat footed” in its response to the court’s ruling.

“This was always a possibility. They should be demonstrating transparency about what sort of number’s we’re looking at, how many potential criminals will be released into the Australian community,” he told Sky News.

“We don’t want non-Australians entering our community who have a criminal record … this is just unacceptable behaviour.”


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