LOUISE KENNERLEY FAIRFAX MEDIAAnd with a statement from Speaker Tony Smith Australia's constitution suddenly came into play
15 February, 2019, 09:55
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Parliament rebuffed government warnings and adopted legislation opening the door for some of the 1,000 refugees detained in existing offshore centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island to travel to Australia for medical treatment if the transfers are requested by two or more doctors.
Following the government's defeat, he stated that the government will be stepping up its policies and reinforcing border defences towards asylum seekers and refugees.
What are your thoughts on the decision to reopen the Christmas Island detention centre?
The ruling coalition lost its single-seat majority when former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull quit politics after he was deposed by his party colleagues in August.
Australia has long defended its offshore detention policy by arguing that it stops deaths at sea and disrupts the trade of people smuggling.
Around 900 asylum seekers had already been transferred to Australia for medical treatment under the old laws.
"It should come as no surprise to people that people smugglers have heard what is going on", Mr Dutton said.
"The legislation applies for people who are already there [on Manus and Nauru] - it does not apply to anyone new", he told reporters.
"Today Labor will fight for more jail time and increased penalties for banks and bankers who do the wrong thing", Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said.
There are widespread fears the Australian government's rhetoric about an influx of risky criminals could imperil the people-swap deal with the United States, which still has more than 700 places to fill.
"I believe that we can keep our borders secure, we can uphold national security but still treat people humanely", Shorten told Parliament.
He said the Christmas Island facility was on "hot contingency" alert for any new arrivals.
"Reopening Christmas Island is nothing short of a cruel and unnecessary political stunt".
In 2010, a boat of 90 asylum seekers - mostly from Iraq and Iran - sank off the island, killing 50 people on board.
Christmas Island is an Australian territory located more than 1,500 kilometers to the northwest of the continent. But 17 Vietnamese asylum seekers who reached northeast Australia in August last year - the first boat arrival in four years - were sent to Christmas Island before they were returned to their homeland.
Under the previous system, the Minister for Home Affairs, now Peter Dutton, had final say over all proposed medical transfers. And that is an outrageous act, ' Mr O'Connor said.
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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison shakes hands with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten during the International Women's Day breakfast.
"There is no question that people smugglers will be hearing very clearly that the policy in Australia has changed", Dutton said.
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