Immigration Minister questioned over released detainee surveillance

The federal opposition is turning the screws on Immigration Minister Andrew Giles over deportation rules, with fresh questions being raised about his claim about drones escorting ex-detainees.

The immigration minister has been under political pressure over the resettlement of detainees after Australia’s High Court ruled indefinite detention was illegal.

The resettlement of these people, some with criminal convictions, has been an area of ​​sharp political turmoil in recent months.

“Well, another day and more questions for Andrew Giles to answer,” shadow immigration and citizenship minister Dan Tehan said on Saturday.

“He must answer when the new ministerial direction will come into effect.”

The independent Administrative Appeals Tribunal rules on deportation decisions and is bound by a ministerial decision called Directive 99.

Direction 99 was signed by Mr Giles in January 2023 and says Australia will “generally afford a higher level of tolerance” to non-citizens living in the country for longer periods of time.

“We now know that over 400 (deportation) cases appeared to have been overturned as a result of Ministerial Directive 99,” Mr Tehan said.

Pressure on Mr. Giles’ case began when it was revealed that the AAT had overturned the visa cancellations of criminals, including a man accused of stabbing a 22-year-old and another man convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl.

Earlier this week, Mr Giles said he was working “day and night” to re-issue a new directive that would make it easier to deport people who pose a threat to public safety.

But Mr Tehan’s “second question” calls into question Mr Giles’s claim this week that drones were accompanying the released detainees.

“The second question he has to answer today is: What is happening with these drones?,” Mr. Tehan told the media on Saturday.

“Who are these drones looking for, do these drones actually exist or is it something else that he said, of which there seems to be no evidence or no indication,” Mr Tehan said.

“Yesterday it became clear that the AFP (Australian Federal Police) has no idea if drones were used or how they were used. So where are these drones?’

Mr Tehan asked how they were monitored if drones were not monitoring released detainees.

“Because we know that not all murderers, not all sex offenders, not all child sex offenders wear ankle bracelets and are under curfew,” Mr. Tehan said.

“The minister said in parliament that ‘we watched everything’. And then he said, ‘we’re watching them with drones’.”

Earlier this week, Mr. Giles said he would review up to 30 cases of non-citizens who failed character tests after an independent tribunal under his ministerial leadership renewed the visas of convicted sex offenders, kidnappers and drug smugglers.

“I am relentlessly focused on this work. There is so much to do. It’s been a shocking mess of an immigration system that we’ve inherited, it’s my job to fix it,” Mr Giles said on Thursday.

On Saturday, Mr Giles’ office referred questions to the Australian Border Force.

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