Julia Gillard has ordered a high-level probe into apparent intelligence and immigration failures that meant an Egyptian asylum-seeker convicted of terrorism charges was housed for nearly a year in low-security detention.
Facing a sustained parliamentary assault over the apparent security breach, the Prime Minister bowed to pressure and ordered the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to find out why the man - who was known to have been the subject of an Interpol red alert - was not moved more quickly to a high-security facility.
The nation's top domestic security agencies, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Federal Police, will be investigated along with the Immigration Department.
''Today I have directed the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to examine the management of Australian government agencies of persons seeking asylum who present complex security issues, particularly this case,'' Ms Gillard told Parliament.
Both ASIO and the AFP told the Immigration Department last year of the man's terrorism convictions but the man was not moved into a higher-security facility until April.
The Egyptian man, understood to be Sayed Ahmed Maksoud Abdellatif, arrived in Australia by boat as an asylum-seeker in May last year. According to testimony by ASIO and the AFP to a Senate hearing last week, he was convicted in Egypt in 1999 of terrorism offences including belonging to Egyptian Islamic Jihad - which later merged with al-Qaeda - premeditated murder and possession of explosives.
ASIO and the AFP told the department of the man's past in August and November respectively, but he was not moved out of the low-security Inverbrackie immigration detention centre in the Adelaide Hills to the higher-security Villawood centre in Sydney until April.
Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor revealed on Tuesday night he was not told of the case until April 17, but admitted a departmental submission was sent to his predecessor Mr Bowen's office in September.
But amid a series of bungles, it seems a departmental brief seeking ministerial approval for a visa for Mr Abdel Latif was apparently lost or stalled in the Minister's office.
Mr Bowen declined to comment on Wednesday, but Fairfax Media understands he has no recollection of the case.
The opposition pilloried the Inverbrackie detention centre as keeping Mr Abdel Latif behind ''a pool fence''. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the inquiry would be deficient because the Inspector-General did not have the power to investigate the Immigration Department - though the relevant Commonwealth Act states the Prime Minister has the power to order an inquiry into matters ''relating to a Commonwealth agency'' - which includes a department.
ASIO has admitted it had made a ''clerical error''.