Labor, coalition at odds over asylum law

Posted February 15, 2019

Senator Hinch backed the bill in the Senate late past year.

Dr Phelps and other crossbench MPs are negotiating the wording of any amendments ahead of a vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon on the bill passed by the Senate last December.

"I think there's no question that people smugglers will be hearing very clearly that the policy in Australia has changed", he told ABC's 7.30 program.

While Labor has limited the new rules to existing detainees on Manus Island and Nauru, Scott Morrison says this "nuance" will be ignored by people smugglers, who will exploit any weakening - real or perceived - of border security to market voyages to asylum seekers.

The ruling Liberal National coalition was firmly opposed to the legislation, which it said would endanger national security, but it passed Australia's lower house by a vote of 75 to 74.

Senator Hinch had asked for an urgent security briefing on the implications of the bill, which the government facilitated early on Wednesday morning, but Senator Hinch said he was not persuaded to abandon his support for the bill.

But the draft laws are yet to clear the Senate, where they are expected to return on Wednesday.

"As well as giving in-principle support to the recommendations of the royal commission, a Shorten Labor government will fund a dedicated special prosecutor to bring corporate criminals to justice", he said.

"But we also want to make sure for people who have been in our care, detained, for over five and a half years in most cases, but they are subject to humane treatment". Rape victims had endured traumatic late-term abortions.

He had been given confidential advice from the solicitor-general that the bill was unconstitutional, and also said he had been asked to keep it secret.

Medical evacuations have become a loophole in Australia's policy of exiling asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

The sprawling Christmas Island camp was closed in October and is one of 19 immigration detention centres that the government closed due to an absence of boat arrivals.

Also in the Swiss city on Wednesday night, Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee activist who has spent five years on Manus Island, won the Martin Ennals Award 2019, one of the most prestigious worldwide human rights prizes, organizers said.

The centre was completed in 2008 with a capacity of fewer than 2,000 inmates, but by 2013 held nearly 3,000 asylum seekers due to a surge in boats. A wooden boat carrying 90 asylum seekers from Iran and Iraq ran onto rocks on Christmas Island in 2010, killing 48.

"Where we will always stand, and the Australian people can always trust us to do, is to have the mettle to ensure the integrity of our border protection framework".

"The Australian people have looked at Bill Shorten today and they have found him weak, and he is".