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According to reports today, state and territory Attorneys-General have forced the government into a humiliating backdown, ordering Peter Dutton’s Department to reverse a ruling that could have let foreigners charged with serious crimes escape scot-free.
Until now, the Home Affairs Department was instructing illegal non-citizens charged with crime and awaiting court hearings that they could simply request to be deported, and thus escape Australian justice.
The Department’s position prompted an unprecedented letter from all state and territory Directors of Public Prosecution to write to Home Affairs Secretary Michael Pezzullo, warning that his bizarre ruling could result in non-citizens coming to Australia for the purposes of committing crime, and then getting away with it by asking to be sent home before trial.
It appears Attorney-General Christian Porter has come to his senses and will overrule Peter Dutton’s Department – restoring the original reading of the Migration Act which stops illegal non-citizens being able to escape Australia before they face justice. This must be done urgently.
This bizarre episode speaks to a concerning level of dysfunction within Home Affairs and a potential breakdown in communication with the Attorney-General’s Department. It shouldn’t have taken a meeting of all state and territory Attorneys-General to point out the Home Affairs ruling was wrong. How was this allowed to happen?
Mr Porter has some questions to answer – when did he become aware of the Home Affairs ruling? Why has he not instructed it to be overturned earlier?
Similarly, Mr Dutton, has still not answered questions about whether he knew what his own Department was doing, and whether he approved. And there is no good answer for Mr Dutton on those questions.
Australians can not afford a Home Affairs minister like Peter Dutton who is too focused on his own political ambition than to be across his brief. Protecting the community from serious criminals is just too important.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.