NSW, Victorian Prime Minister offers different views on ISIS family repatriation

NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet has distanced himself from the federal government's move to repatriate family members of Islamic State fighters, saying the decision was "difficult" and his priority was the safety of people in his state.

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews, meanwhile, said his country had not been contacted by the Commonwealth about the program but only those with the lowest risk were eligible to return.

The four women and their 13 children arrived at Sydney Airport on Saturday morning, expected to be the first of about 60 women and children brought home from the al-Roj refugee camp in northern Syria over the next few months.

They were taken to a safe location, where the women – who expressed remorse for the “problems and injuries we caused” – would be questioned about their activities while abroad. Some adults may be charged with terrorism offences or for entering a restricted area.

Many women say they were forced or tricked into traveling to Syria, and there is widespread disease and malnutrition among the thousands in the camps. The United States, Britain and Belgium also brought home the stranded residents.

But repatriation is controversial in Australia. Supporters say the country is well equipped to handle complex re-assimilation efforts and potential criminal charges. However, the federal opposition accused the Albanian government of endangering Australians.

Perrottet, who faces elections in March, said on Sunday the repatriation was "ultimately, the decision of the federal government".

“My job, as prime minister, is to keep people safe. My focus is on the safety and security of my people … and I will provide whatever support is necessary to ensure that happens,” Perrottet said. "This is a difficult decision the federal government has made."

Perrottet said the government had not received "final advice" on what support NSW needed to provide women and children, but NSW would offer any help needed.

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