Mark Dreyfus accused of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ after angry exchange with journalist

Mark Dreyfus's clash with Sky News journo

Source: ABC News

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley has accused Mark Dreyfus of “inappropriate behaviour” over the Attorney-General’s angry exchange with a female journalist at a media conference on Wednesday.

After being asked by Sky News reporter Olivia Caisley if he should apologise to members of the community for not protecting them from criminal detainees released following a High Court ruling, Dreyfus furiously rejected the question as “absurd”.

“I want to suggest to you that your question is an absurd question, you are asking a cabinet minister, three ministers of the crown, to apologise for upholding the law of Australia, to acting in accordance with the law of Australia, for following the instructions of the High Court of Australia,” he said.

Dreyfus went on to reiterate he would not be apologising for pursuing the rule of law before angrily gesticulating as the journalist attempted to interject.

“Do not interrupt,” he said, pointing his finger, before adding, “I will not be apologising for acting in accordance with a High Court decision”

“Your question is an absurd one.”

In a post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Ley called on Dreyfus to “apologise immediately”.

“Talking down to, and shouting at young women in the press gallery is totally inappropriate,” she said.

“I note he didn’t act this way to any of the men asking questions.”

At the media conference, Dreyfus announced applications are in the works to put some of the worst offenders recently released from immigration detention back behind bars after preventative detention laws passed Parliament.

A preventative detention regime usually reserved for terrorists will be expanded to include the freed detainees who pose an unacceptable risk of committing a serious violent or sexual offence.

The legislation passed the parliament on Wednesday after former laws were struck out by the High Court as unconstitutional.

Three of nearly 150 detainees who were released following the High Court ruling indefinite immigration detention was illegal have been arrested and charged on separate incidents since leaving detention.

Two are registered sex offenders.

Emran Dad, 33, faced court on Tuesday charged with breaching his reporting obligations to police after he allegedly contacted a child and didn’t disclose social media accounts.

The heads of Australian Border Force and the Australian Federal Police briefed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and premiers on Operation Aegis on Wednesday.

Aegis is a joint operation to ensure community safety following the High Court decision.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has also been in contact with state and territory ministers to ensure the necessary preparations to keep the community safe are under way.

Court applications had been drafted in anticipation of the laws passing.

“We’ve already begun working through the worst offenders,” Dreyfus said.

Layers of protection were being put in place to ensure Australians’ safety, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said.

The laws would be able to withstand a High Court challenge after previous ones were struck out, she assured the community.

“The safety of the Australian community is paramount to us,” she said.

Neither minister confirmed how many people would be covered by the laws nor how many applications were in the works.

The detainees’ offences were also kept secret, despite Giles previously telling parliament there were three murderers and several sex offenders among the cohort.

The opposition has chastised the government for not having legislation ready to implement as soon as the court’s decision was handed down so offenders weren’t released.

“You failed to get those preventative detention measures in place, which you could have done months ago, but instead, you blamed your department,” Liberal Senator Jane Hume told O’Neil.

Dreyfus slammed the Coalition for not understanding how High Court judgments work. The government could not out-legislate the constitution, Dreyfus said.

Any delay could open the Commonwealth and individual public servants up to legal action and damages, he added.

“What the opposition has said is simply not true,” he said.

“The decision of the High Court sets a new limit on the power to detain anyone in the same position as the plaintiff in that case and it had to be implemented immediately.”

Western Australian Premier Roger Cook assured the community all freed detainees in his state had been accounted for after their release. Those subject to control orders were being closely monitored, he said.

“We know the Australian Federal Police and Border Force personnel are working closely with WA Police to make sure that we keep the Western Australian community safe,” he said ahead of the briefing.

There was frustration that the former laws were inadequate, he said.

South Australia police were working diligently to ensure community safety after one of the charged detainees committed his alleged offence in the state, Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

“I’m satisfied they’re doing everything they reasonably can – what we need is the federal parliament to do its job and pass that legislation as quickly as possible,” he said.

The debate on the laws was a race to the bottom as while “some of them have committed heinous crimes, many of them haven’t”, Greens leader Adam Bandt said.

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-with AAP

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