Controversial deportation Direction 99 not a mistake, Labor frontbencher Murray Watt

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles made no mistake when he issued a controversial ministerial directive that led to the cancellation of deportations of some non-citizens, Labor leader Murray Watt said.

The disputed order – known as Directive 99 – was issued by Mr. Giles, issued in early 2023, required the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to consider an individual’s connection to the community when reviewing deportation appeals.

The directive has been linked to several cases of non-citizen criminals having their visa cancellations overturned, allowing them to remain in Australia.

Queensland Senator Watt said on Sunday the government did not intend community safety to be placed under community bonds when applying Directive 99, despite the AAT’s interpretation in the case.

“Even the advice that his department gave to Andrew Giles when he was giving that direction was that it wasn’t going to affect people when we were talking about serious crime,” Senator Watt told the ABC.

“Of course the AAT doesn’t interpret it that way. It was interpreted in a way that the government never intended, and that’s exactly why we’re taking action now to fix that.”

Asked if the issuing of the ministerial directive was a mistake, Senator Watt rejected the claim.

“The way it has been interpreted is very different to how the government intended … Minister Giles was not even informed by his department when the AAT was making decisions that were contrary to the spirit and intent of this direction.”

“It would be a mistake for the government to say we want to put length of stay above community safety – we haven’t.

“I think it’s an unfortunate mistake for the AAT to interpret that direction in a way that the government never intended.”

Under continued pressure, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Thursday that the government would replace Directive 99 and instead require community protection to override all other considerations when deciding whether to lift visa bans.

“The Australian community expects community safety to be the number one priority and that is exactly what is made clear by this change of direction,” Senator Watt said.

Among those whose visas have been overturned by the AAT are a New Zealander convicted of raping his stepdaughter, a Briton who assaulted women 26 times and a Sudanese man who allegedly committed murder.

Senator Watt also supported Mr. Giles that authorities were using drones to monitor foreign-born criminals, even after the Australian Federal Police revealed in Senate estimates on Friday that they were unaware of such a program.

“It is my understanding that drones are being used as part of this operation, but more in terms of monitoring the accommodation that people live in, for example making sure they are not too close to schools or other areas they should not be visiting. live close,” he said.

“So the drones are part of the operation involved in tracking these offenders, but it’s done more in an operational sense.”

Given that Mr. Albanese faces calls from the Coalition to sack his home affairs and immigration ministers over their portfolio management, Senator Watt was asked if he would be interested in swapping portfolios.

Senator Watt played down expectations of a reshuffle, saying he was focused on his current responsibilities.

“I’m actually enjoying my current role … Obviously, I’m very privileged to serve in the cabinet,” he said.

“But more than that, I actually really support my colleagues and what they’re doing … I think Andrew Giles and Clare O’Neil have done incredibly well in a really difficult area of ​​the portfolio.”

Read related topics:Immigration

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