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Dutton Defeated in High Court by Refugees

National Justice Project Media Release

High Court Refuses to be Treated as “Post Box” by the Minister

Refugees who were detained by the government in Nauru and Papua New Guinea have secured a major legal victory in the High Court of Australia against the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton.

The High Court of Australia has ruled that the Federal Court has the power to hear the cases of over 50 refugees and asylum seekers, after the Commonwealth appealed to the Court in September 2019 to dispute the jurisdiction of the Federal Court.

The Minister claimed that Section 494AB of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) prevents the claimants from taking action for negligence and breaches of duty of care while held in the government’s custody.

The High Court, however, has ruled in paragraph 4:

“s 494AB is not a law that takes away the jurisdiction of those courts (or that of this Court) to hear and determine proceedings of the kinds described in s 494AB(1).”

In Paragraph 27, the High Court held:

“That conclusion is grounded in the established principle that “a law of the Commonwealth is not to be interpreted as withdrawing or limiting a conferral of jurisdiction unless the implication appears clearly and unmistakably.”

In Paragraph 34, the High Court said:

“So construing s 494AB as a statutory bar avoids the High Court being made a post box for the commencement of proceedings destined to be remitted to another court.

It avoids diverting the High Court away from its central work as the apex court of the Australian judicial system. And, further, it avoids administrative inconveniences for the courts, the profession and litigants in circumstances where the Commonwealth could not identify any purpose or utility in requiring the proceedings to be filed in the High Court only for them to be remitted.”

The full court decision can be found here.

George Newhouse, Principal Solicitor and Director of the National Justice Project, has said:

“We’ve argued successfully at every stage that the Federal Court has the jurisdiction to hear these claims. Today, the High Court agreed.”

“This decision vindicates the right of our clients to seek justice for the cruel and inhumane treatment that they suffered.

“In an act of legal bastardry, the government tried to slow down the course of justice, and they failed.”

“The decision vindicates our clients. By taking legal action against the government, our clients hope to access the long-term medical and psychological care that they need.”

“Many of our clients are young children who have suffered so much from the Minister’s cruel policies. These children suffer from constant nightmares, they struggle to interact with other children, and they experience suicidal thoughts. Some of them have self-harmed or attempted to take their own lives.”

“Now, we will fight in the Federal Court to make the government accountable for what it has done to these children.”

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  1. Josephus

    Australia has no human rights charter, and should have one. One thinks of the resistance, often fatal, that human rights defenders voiced under the Third Reich. Ours face only ruin viz Collaery, Assange, Witness K and others. But we are halfway there, thank you Gauleiter Dutton and our smug PM.

  2. Viki Hannah

    Great work by the National Justice team.

  3. Matters Not

    Let’s not forget we have no Bill of Rights and Dutton et al do their level best to limit any judicial oversight, broadly defined. For Dutton, judicial interference (his construction) has been the bane of his existence. When a policeman, he was forever frustrated that so many of those arrested (the result of his hard work) were let go by those on the bench.

    Thus when it comes to particular legislation, Dutton ensures, as far as possible, that it’s the Minister who has, what might be called the final say f, and the judiciary are excluded. Dutton has no timeor the Separation of Powers doctrine. In short, political philosophers such as Baron de Montesquieu and John Locke remain unread.

  4. Mark Shields

    Loathesome Fascist Scum!

  5. Grace Ching

    Dutton is defeated…..his judgment is now under scrutiny.

  6. New England Cocky

    A sceptical political observer could reasonably conclude that Scummo may use this failure of fascist policy to award a ”First Strike” against Benito Duddo. Then maybe, just maybe he may be sent scuttling overseas to hawk his mediocre talents in other fora where proper thinkers will certainly recognise his true worth.

  7. jon chesterson

    Dutton and Scummo – You are not above the law and Rule of Law; and you cannot constitutionally declare or create laws to elevate yourself above the law and Rule of Law. Are we to allow ourselves to be governed by fallen police, tourist guides, cow pats and bullies. You can make announcements on the lawns of Parliament till you have cows licking milk and honey off your boots, so go milk them all you like.

  8. Mal Collins

    Dutton the dog and Scumho,with their refugee regulations make me sick.These two polititians should both have the guts to stand down from their positions. They make me feel ashamed to be called an Australian

  9. Kathryn

    At long, long last! Common sense, justice and compassion REIGN supreme! Dutton is a sadistic, insane and callously inhumane psychopath! The fact that he rose to fascist power from being an insignificant, extremely unpopular and corrupt ex-cop in the backwoods of Queensland is, in itself, a dubious recommendation! The fact that Dutton’s ex-colleagues left a can of dog food on the table of Peter Dutton as a symbol of how much he was despised by the policemen and policewomen he used to work with goes to show just how despicable this right-wing-extremist, misogynist and uncompromising racist dog, Dutton, really is!

    The day cannot come soon enough for when Dutton is kicked to the kerb! He is a totally unfit person to be in politics let alone as one of the worst, most corrupt and loathsome polticians in living memory! The man is so full of hate, depravity and corruption, it beggars belief!

  10. Kronomex


    It’s just a minor setback for Potatonito Spudilini, he’ll just find something else to latch onto in his never ending greed for power. It will piss him off but he won’t stop.

  11. David Reece

    Dutton is a self destruction and his barbaric acts,too many to name can now can be dealt with by the courts.I have said all along right from the start when Dutton was a police officer who was sacked for misconduct should have served time himself.He is a huge problem and needs to go.I am very sure his wife will support him with money from government funded child care centres

  12. Jo.


    Dutton was a police officer who was sacked for misconduct …

    Bullshit! Why do people spread fake news? Why oh why! No wonder the credibility of social media is where it is.

    (And perhaps a timely reminder. In any logical discussion, the onus of proof is always on the person making the claim.)

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