Australia will reopen its Christmas Island detention centre

14 February, 2019, 02:59 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison

The bill must be approved by the upper house to become law, but is likely to pass, as the Senate supported an earlier version a year ago.

Australian governments rarely lose votes in the House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form an administration.

The Christmas Island center, on par with detention facilities on Nauru and Manus Island, has become a symbol of Australia's controversial migration policy, associated with torture, mistreatment, and abuse.

The legislative changes, which passed against the wishes of the Morrison government, allow immigration ministers to refuse medical transfers to convicted criminals.

"The current medical transfer system is broken".

The Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) joined forces with the Greens and independent Members of Parliament (MPs) to pass the medical evacuations bill by 75 votes to the governing Liberal-National Party coalition (LNP)'s 74.

But Mr Pyne said it was "a mere technicality" that any new boat arrivals will not be granted access to fast-tracked transfers to Australia.

Despite his historic loss, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to do the same.

Immigration policy requires asylum seekers intercepted at sea to be sent to camps in PNG and its northern island of Nauru, and they can not set foot in Australia, even if they are found to be refugees.

"The priority for me having met with the general of Operation Sovereign Borders is to deal with the hard circumstance that Bill Shorten created", Dutton told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television.

"The opening of Christmas Island, I believe, was a political gesture created to fuel domestic political unrest but I'm anxious that we'll have tragic consequences because this is a government addicted to slogans and fear", he added. "It should come as no surprise to people that people smugglers have heard what is going on".

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said the Labor rules would mean people could "get on a boat, get to Nauru, get sick and get to Australia" - making no mention of the fact the new law did not apply to new boat arrivals. The Home Affairs minister would have 72 hours to make a decision on the transfer.

Most refugees who arrived by boat have gone into the community in the past.

Operation Sovereign Borders and other parts of the government's border security operations will be beefed up, with more than $1.4 billion earmarked to be spent over four years.

"I don't think we can see what we saw before".

But Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said the legislated ring-fence was an "irrelevant red herring", arguing people smugglers would seize on the new laws regardless.



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