PM to re-open Christmas Island detention centre

Alicia Farmer
February 13, 2019

The amended bill, which passed into law in the Senate shortly after Morrison's announcement, hands doctors on Nauru and Manus Island greater power to transfer asylum seekers to Australian medical facilities.

The Bill passed with the support of the main opposition Labor Party and crossbenchers from the left-leaning Greens and independent MPs.

Morrison added: "My job now is to ensure that boats don't come, my job now is to do everything in my power to ensure that what the parliament has done to weaken our borders does not result in boats coming to Australia".

Speaking in front of Parliament House this morning, Morrison reiterated his position the vote will encourage people smugglers to continue their operations in Australian waters - and that reopening the shuttered centre was part of a contingency plan to dissuade those potential arrivals.

For the bill to pass the Senate, where it is likely to return on Wednesday, 39 votes in favour will be needed.

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Phil Glendenning, President of the Refugee Council of Australia said, "We thank and congratulate all the Members of Parliament and Senators who came together and voted with their conscience on this long overdue legislation".

Earlier, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton praised Senator Hinch's caution in calling for a security briefing, saying: "It seems to me that Derryn Hinch is showing the leadership that Mr Shorten lacks". I think it's a foolish law.

Furious at Labor for insisting on the changes, the government is now preparing for an election fight on border protection by claiming Mr Shorten would dismantle offshore processing and allow more asylum seekers to arrive by boat.

He will again today give his support for amendments and said he has "no reason to believe" that it will lead to the people smuggling trade resuming.

The move cut short a furious debate over whether the vote in the lower house could be seen as a vote on a money bill and was therefore a vote of no confidence in the government itself.

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