NATALIE BARR: Taxpayers are footing the bill for housing some of the 81 asylum seekers been free from indefinite detention. Half of those released following a landmark High Court ruling have serious criminal histories, including rape, assault, and murder. But so far political debate has focused more on who's to blame rather than how on earth to fix it. Let's bring in Home Affairs Minister Claire O'Neill and Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Good morning to both of you this morning. Clear a pedophile who raped a 10 year old boy, a hitman who murdered a pregnant woman. Do we know where they are in Australia today?
CLARE O'NEIL: Nat, can I say before I answer your question, those crimes and those people are absolutely despicable. I'm raising three children in this country and I can tell you that if there was anything in my power to keep these people in detention, I would absolutely do it. The High Court last week made a ruling made effectively a new law for Australia that these people cannot be detained in immigration detention. And our single focus in managing the mandatory impact on the high court's decision is community safety. The short answer to your question is yes, we do know where those people are.
NATALIE BARR: So what are you doing to protect Australian citizens from these people?
CLARE O'NEIL: Absolutely Nat. So our single focus in implementing this mandatory decision of the High Court of Australia is protecting the community safety of Australians and we're doing that in several ways. The first is that we are releasing people under the strictest possible visa conditions. So this includes things like more or less constant update to authorities about the location of people, in some instances in person daily reporting to authorities. It includes being able to get permission to work in certain types of industries and includes us continuously monitoring things like social media and email addresses and phone numbers and a like.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, hang on-
CLARE O'NEIL: In addition to that Nat, can I just say we've set up a joint operation between the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force police are case managing each of these individuals into the community.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, just before I get to Jane, I'll just drill down on that. So you're restricting the types of employment, you're monitoring their social media, they have to report to authorities what once a day, what do they do for the other 23 hours?
CLARE O'NEIL: Nat, I am doing everything that I can within Australian law to keep the community safe at this time and that includes setting as strict as possible visa conditions on this cohort of people. The visa conditions that are available to us are things like the reporting that I've talked to you about, we have set up this police response. So we have the Australian Federal Police is the Australian Federal Police literally have briefed in person, each state and federal police commissioner, and they are working across the states and territories to manage these people in the communities. And I just say once more to you, let's be really clear about this. This was not a decision of the Australian Government. If I had any power to keep these people detained, I would do so I don't have that power. And so we are managing the High Court's mandatory decision in the interest of community safety within Australian law.
NATALIE BARR: Okay. Jane explained to us what the government could have done?
JANE HUME: Well, first of all those 80 people were released after before it before there was a high court explanation of their ruling. Now that means it makes it so much harder to control, and particularly with a legislative or regulatory response. You know, courts make decisions all the time that overturn or override a decision of government that the responsive government has to be legislative or regulatory. In fact, there's two pieces of legislation before this the Parliament this week, that do exactly that, where the opposition has gone to the government and said, We will support you because this is an emergency. I think that Clare and potentially her Immigration Minister who had a lackluster performance in question time yesterday, have taken their eye off the ball because they knew that a High Court decision was coming and yet there is no legislative or regulatory response ready to go. Now the Opposition would be ready to step up the moment that is the case. But why wasn't it done before the High Court made this decision? Now we have 80 very dangerous potentially offenders out in the community. If you read the front page of The West today, you'll see that those 23 hours that you're concerned about Nat are in fact worthy of concern, because those detainees are out there already and they're breaking the law.
NATALIE BARR: They're out. So Clare, if you had time to argue against their release to the High Court, why didn't you have time to draft some sort of legislation, as Jane says, in the lead up to this in the event that you might lose the case?
CLARE O'NEIL: Well, I'm really glad I'm being given the opportunity to respond here because everything that Jane has just said there is absolutely categorically false. It is garbage and she absolutely knows it. The idea that is open to the Australian Government to simply legislate away High Court decision is not how our constitution works. And Jane, I hope to God actually understands that as parliamentarians, we are subject to the law, just like every other Australian legislation, High Court of Australia has made a decision. The Commonwealth government argued that these people continue to be kept in detention. I wish that they could be kept in detention. If it was up to me. I would keep them in detention. I can't do that the High Court has made a call they have told the government what to do. They issued a writ to tell the government to release these people from detention. We must follow the law.
NATALIE BARR: So what are you doing now?
CLARE O'NEIL: So what we are doing now is we are complying with the law as we must do, in a way that protects community safety within the limits of the law.
NATALIE BARR: As far as trying to stem this, to change it, because the full bench of the High Court has ruled it can't be overruled by Parliament. So can you challenge it in some way?
CLARE O'NEIL: Well, I'm really glad that you understand that the Parliament can't overrule the decision of the High Court Nat. And this is an unfortunate thing. I can't critique the High Court. As you know, Jane's not allowed to do that I'm not allowed to do that. But I can tell you that the Commonwealth Government the Albanese government argued strongly against the decision that was made the full court of the High Court made a decision. It is not available to anyone in this Parliament, anyone in this country to simply overturn a ruling of the High Court. I don't like it. Jane doesn't like it. I don't want these people on the street. Well,
NATALIE BARR: And we're stuck with them.
CLARE O'NEIL: All I can tell your viewers is that the Albanese government is doing everything we can to protect the community while we follow the ruling of the High Court of Australia.
NATALIE BARR: And in the meantime, they get health care, they get welfare. It is a travesty. No one in the country can believe this today. Thank you very much. We'll see you next week.