COVID-19 stoush keeps detainee in limbo

By AAP Newswire

A man remains in limbo in Melbourne immigration detention amid a legal stoush about moving him because of COVID-19.

The Federal Court had ruled the 68-year-old could no longer be held in Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation at Broadmeadows because he risked catching coronavirus there.

He has diabetes and the federal government decided to move him on Thursday to Western Australia's Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre.

But Justice Bernard Murphy has ordered the man stay put for now, after his lawyers launched a last-ditch bid to block to move over fears he could catch the virus on the plane.

"We're talking about a man's health here. I'm not going to play legal games with either of you," Justice Murphy told lawyers for the detainee and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton during a last-minute hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

"I'd be loathed to have an order I've made expose the applicant to risk."

The detainee, who has not been named, wants to be released so he can be with his family.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said the 68-year-old had multiple health problems and had spent nearly a decade living with his son, an Australian citizen, and grandchildren.

The man was then detained over an adverse security assessment, which advocates said was based on allegations dating back nearly 15 years.

Lawyers for the federal government previously told the court he was at no greater risk of catching COVID-19 at the Broadmeadows detention centre than in the community.

Justice Murphy on Wednesday said he thought the man would be safer in WA than Victoria.

But the judge said he also needed to be satisfied about the risk posed by travel and ordered the case to return to court next week.