The failure of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to refer himself to the High Court could result in some of the “killers, crooks and creeps” he boasted of deporting, remaining in Australia indefinitely.
Jubilant Liberal frontbenchers boasted last week that Mr Dutton had escaped the guillotine after Parliament rose for the year without referring him to the High Court.
The Liberal Party believes it is now too late to refer Mr Dutton to the High Court before the next election, which means the issue may never be resolved.
But Labor believes Mr Dutton’s lucky escape could now allow a refugee with a serious criminal rap sheet – known as FQM18 – to stay in Australia because his case will remain forever in legal limbo.
Mr Dutton’s eligibility to sit in the House under section 44 of the Constitution and serve as a minister under section 64 of the Constitution is being challenged in the Federal Court by the asylum seeker in the case known as FQM18 v Minister for Home Affairs.
His lawyers argue that because Mr Dutton is not a legally valid Member of Parliament, all his ministerial decisions are legally invalid.
The Federal Court has heard argument that the matter should be stayed until the doubts about Mr Dutton’s eligibility are resolved by the High Court.
Labor believes that if Parliament doesn’t resolve it by referring Mr Dutton to the High Court, the case will sit in limbo forever.
“Peter Dutton’s refusal to refer himself to the High Court has put Australia’s ability to kick foreign criminals out of the country in jeopardy,” Labor’s immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said.
“It is likely cases such as this could remain in legal limbo, allowing foreign criminals to stay in the country indefinitely and potentially opening the floodgates to countless others.
“From July 2013 to June 2016, there were a total of 1650 visa cancellations under s501, with an additional 640 visa applications refused under s501.”
Labor says some of the cases that could be dragged into the mess include Victorian sex creep taxi driver Jagdeep Singh, who was deported after indecently assaulting passengers, and New Zealand national Daniel Maxwell, who was convicted over the one-punch death of Cole Miller.
But Attorney-General Christian Porter said if Labor’s Shayne Neumann regarded the issue as “so serious, why did he not take action during the last sittings?”
“The fact that he didn’t tells you is [that] even he does not really believe what he’s saying,” Mr Porter said.
“Further, it’s always the case that the more visas that are cancelled on character grounds to keep Australians safe, the more challenges there will be.
“Our minister has increased the rate of visa cancellations for criminals by 1200 per cent, and we defend all challenges vigorously.”
RAP SHEET REFUGEES
High-profile cases Labor claims could be under question:
- Victorian sex creep taxi driver Jagdeep Singh in August 2017
- Daniel Maxwell, responsible for the one-punch death of Cole Miller; deported in August 2017
- Rebels gang member AJ Graham deported in October 2017
- Linda Howard, former United States diplomat accused of keeping sex slaves for her husband; banned from returning to Australia in December 2017
- Hitman Roy “Red Rat” Pollitt in 2017
- Senior WA bikie Kevin Lawrence in February 2017
- Coward-puncher Caleb Maraku in February/March 2018