Andrew Giles faced a sustained and coordinated attack from the Opposition over his handling of Australia’s immigration detention saga – amid calls for him to resign or be sacked.

The Immigration Minister was the target of seven of the Coalition’s questions during Question Time on Tuesday.

He was asked repeatedly about foreign-born criminals who received leniency in the courts as a result of a directive issued by Mr Giles’ office.

Mr Giles issued Directive 99 back in January 2023, which calls on the courts to consider a foreign-born national’s ties to Australia during deportation proceedings.

As a result, criminals who have no legal connection to Australia have been allowed to stay in the country after committing crimes.

The Coalition has condemned this as another scandal in the immigration portfolio since Labor came to office, following a High Court decision which allowed 153 detainees to be released onto the streets as part of the NZYQ cohort.

On Tuesday, Mr Giles – who has been a soft target during Question Time for months – argued that his directive has not made it easier for criminals to remain in Australia.

He said it was the decision of the ‘independent tribunal to overturn the cancellation of the visa’, in spite of his personal belief that it should remain cancelled. 

‘Our thoughts are of course with the victims. In saying that of course, community safety remains our highest priority is a government,’ Mr Giles said twice. 

The revelation has sparked renewed calls for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to sack the minister responsible for immigration, Andrew Giles

The revelation has sparked renewed calls for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to sack the minister responsible for immigration, Andrew Giles

‘Direction 99 did not decrease the importance placed on considerations such as the expectations of the Australian community and the protection of the community from crime. That is a very important point here.’

In the case of Emmanuel Saki – a 29-year-old from Sudan who arrived with his family aged 12 and was charged with murder weeks after being released from immigration detention – Mr Giles revealed he has since cancelled his visa again.

Saki’s visa had been cancelled in the past but reinstated on the back of direction 99 due to his family ties to Australia. He remains in custody amid the alleged murder investigation.

On the fifth question aimed at Mr Giles, he was told to ‘speak up’ after maverick MP Bob Katter interrupted to tell the chamber he ‘couldn’t hear the minister’, adding ‘it’s probably a good thing’.

The Immigration Minister maintains he and his department are looking at many cases ‘as a priority’ and they are ‘all under cancellation consideration’.

It comes as new data revealed one in five detainees released as part of the NZYQ cohort back in November following the High Court ruling have gone on to reoffend.

Mr Giles survived a motion by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in February calling for him to be axed, and was riding high after a second High Court ruling in the ASF17 case, which kept a new cohort of detainees behind bars.

March figures released to the Senate following an estimates hearing now reveal at least 28 of the 153 people released following the NZYQ decision have gone on to reoffend.

The cohort – which included rapists and murderers – were released into the community after the High Court ruled their indefinite detention was unconstitutional.

These people are considered stateless, therefore cannot be deported.

Opposition Home Affairs spokesperson James Paterson and commentator Joe Hildebrand both urged Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to take decisive action against Mr Giles this week.

Mr Paterson said Mr Giles ministerial position is ‘untenable’.

‘The minister should have been sacked weeks, if not months ago. But he should be sacked this week.’

He argued that both Mr Giles and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil have powers available to them to ‘get these people off the streets’ using preventative detention orders which passed through parliament after the High Court decision.

‘This government is too weak to protect them,’ he said.

‘There is no barrier except the weakness of the Albanese government to getting rid of these people.

‘Under the previous Liberal government, we got rid of people like this. Under the next liberal government, whenever it’s next elected, we will get rid of people like this.’

March figures released to Senate following an estimates hearing now reveal at least 28 of the 153 people released following the NZYQ decision have gone on to reoffend

March figures released to Senate following an estimates hearing now reveal at least 28 of the 153 people released following the NZYQ decision have gone on to reoffend

Opposition Home Affairs spokesperson James Paterson and commentator Joe Hildebrand both urged Mr Albanese to take decisive action against Mr Giles this week

Opposition Home Affairs spokesperson James Paterson and commentator Joe Hildebrand both urged Mr Albanese to take decisive action against Mr Giles this week

Hildebrand shared a similar thought, arguing that Mr Giles should be given the opportunity first to resign this week.

‘If he doesn’t, Anthony Albanese should sack him,’ he said.

‘It’s no secret that I’m a bit soft on Albo and I love him very dearly, but this is just indefensible. It’s absolutely appalling.

‘This guy is a clown.’ 

The government introduced a suite of measures in an effort to combat the potential risks, including introducing ankle monitors.

However figures suggest as few as half of the detainees are subjected to the ankle monitors as part of their visa conditions.  

‘At least 28 members of the NZYQ cohort have reoffended after being released into the community,’ Opposition Home Affairs spokesperson James Paterson said. 

‘How bad does the detainee crime spree need to get before they act?’ 

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