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Decision in Attorney-General v Benbrika

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

The Albanese Government will always take the strongest possible action available under law to ensure the safety of the community.

In February 2023, I made an application for an Extended Supervision Order (ESO) for Mr Benbrika for the maximum period of 3 years. This application was made in accordance with advice from all operational agencies involved in the matter, including the Australian Federal Police.

As the Victorian Supreme Court clearly found this morning, the risk posed by Mr Benbrika has reduced such that a Continuing Detention Order was not supported by the evidence and could no longer be ordered by the Court. Accordingly, the application for an ESO was the strongest possible action available under law.

Today, the Victorian Supreme Court imposed an ESO on Mr Benbrika with 30 stringent conditions, including an electronic monitoring device and a curfew, for a period of 1 year. The Court held that these conditions were sufficient to protect the community.

While I welcome the Court’s decision to impose an ESO on Mr Benbrika, the ESO does not include every condition sought by the Government. Moreover, the ESO will remain in force for a period of 1 year instead of the 3 year period sought by the Government. The Government will carefully consider the Court’s written reasons when published, in consultation with the Commonwealth’s lawyers and our security and law enforcement agencies, before determining next steps.

The stringent conditions imposed on Mr Benbrika under the ESO are in addition to the existing powers available to security and law enforcement agencies to protect the community. Every day, security and law enforcement officers across Australia work to keep our community safe. We have confidence in our agencies.

When the now-Opposition Leader spoke about the legislation that introduced Extended Supervision Orders in 2020, he rightly said that Extended Supervision Orders will protect the community "by ensuring the broadest possible range of controls can be applied to offenders that are both proportionate to the risk and necessary to prevent them from doing further harm.”

Labor supported those laws in Opposition, and we are using them effectively in Government.

Mr Dutton’s failures in the handling of Mr Benbrika’s case have been repeatedly criticised, including by the Court. Just this morning, the Court noted that Mr Dutton engaged in a "serious breach" of the Criminal Code by withholding evidence from Mr Benbrika and the Court in 2020. After this failure was exposed in late 2022, Mr Benbrika sought a review of his Continuing Detention Order – making this case much more complicated than it needed to be.

The Opposition continues to play politics with community safety. The Albanese Government will continue to work with law enforcement and security agencies to ensure the safety of the community.