Sunrise host Natalie Barr has expressed her disbelief that three murderers and multiple sex offenders have been released from detention after a landmark High Court decision.
The court ruled last week that it was unlawful to indefinitely detain criminals who couldn’t be deported to their home countries.
It led to the release of 81 asylum seekers, including a man who had previously served time in jail for child sex abuse.
During a heated exchange with Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil on Wednesday morning, Barr questioned if the government was surveilling the released prisoners.
Ahead of the interview, Barr said: “So far, political debate has focused on who to blame rather than to fix it.”
“Clare, a pedophile who raped a 10-year-old boy, a hit man who murdered a pregnant woman, do we know where they are?” she inquired.
“Nat, can I say before I answer your question, those crimes and those people are absolutely despicable,” Ms O’Neil replied.
“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.”
She said the government had released the detainees under “the strictest possible visa conditions” that requires them to report in-person daily and prohibits them from working in certain industries.
“Yes, we do know where those people are,” Ms O’Neil said.
The government will also continue to monitor their social media, email addresses and phone numbers.
Opposition finance spokesperson Jane Hume accused the government of “taking their eye off the ball” and failing to ensure that a legislative or regulatory response was prepared in advance of the High Court decision.
“Why wasn’t it done before the High Court made this decision? Now we have 80 very dangerous, potentially, offenders out in the community,” Ms Hume said.
However, Ms O’Neill refuted the allegation and accused Ms Hume of reporting false and misleading information.
“It is garbage and she absolutely knows it,” she said.
“The idea that it is open to the Australian government to simply legislate away a High Court decision is not the way our Constitution works and I hope to God Jane understands that.”
“The High Court has made a call, they have told the government what to do.”
Among the detainees that were released into the community is a man accused of attacking three women and a former bodyguard convicted of murdering a pregnant woman in Kuala Lumpur.