‘Total and utter incompetence’: Michaelia Cash accuses Albanese government of failing to protect Australia after detainees released

Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash has accused the government of “total and utter incompetence” in its response to the release of 93 foreign nationals from immigration detention.

Australia’s High Court ruled that the detainees, some of whom carry convictions for serious crimes such as rape and murder, could not be held indefinitely earlier this month, forcing the government to release them into the community.

That sparked widespread concerns for community safety, with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton delivering an explosive speech to Parliament attacking the government for not anticipating the ruling.

In response, the government last Thursday struck a deal with the Coalition to introduce new legislation which will impose strict visa conditions on the released detainees, including mandatory ankle monitors and curfews, as well as prison sentences for breaches.

Despite this, Senator Cash was adamant that the Albanese government could have done more to prevent the release, telling Sky News Australia’s Peta Credlin on Monday Labor had failed to plan for a “worst case scenario.”

“This is a government that when they’re wrong, hands up, they don’t tell anybody,” she said.

Senator Cash said the government should have spent the months leading up to the decision demanding the Home Affairs Department war-game each scenario.

“This government now says, oh, we were told we were going to win, so we didn’t take any further action,” she said.

“Complete, total and utter incompetence on behalf of the Prime Minister, (Home Affairs) Minister (Clare) O’Neil, quite frankly, the Attorney General as well.”

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil on Sunday had maintained the government was “properly prepared” to respond to the release, despite the fact she had been advised they would win the High Court case.

However, she also conceded there were about 247 immigrants, from a larger group of 340 who had been in detention for more than a year, that could be freed in the coming months in the wake of the decision.

Senator Cash was quick to call out that admission, claiming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese now needed to do his “duty” and explain how the government planned to protect the community.

“What a complete, total and utter mess Australia finds itself in,” she said.

“People who are not entitled to even be in this country are now roaming the streets out in our community, but what’s worse is the cohort of 247.

“Mr Albanese needs to front the Australian people and clearly articulate what is his Government going to do with the 247? When is his government going to do it?

“What in God’s name is his government going to do to ensure the security and safety of the Australian people?

“To date, other than the leadership shown by Peter Dutton last week, Mr Albanese has completely abrogated his duty as our Prime Minister to put the safety and security of Australians first.”

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