Scott Morrison reopens Christmas Island detention centre

13 February, 2019, 11:36 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Mr Morrison warned Labor's amendments to the Medevac bill could restart the people-smuggling trade.

It was the first time in decades that an Australian government has lost a vote on its own legislation in the House of Representatives.

When the sitting government last lost a vote on substantive legislation in 1929, then prime minister Stanley Bruce immediately called an election, and lost it.

What happened at Christmas Island previously?

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Wednesday announced the reopening of a controversial offshore migrant detention centre on Christmas Island, doubling down on hardline policies after a historic legislative defeat.

He says "the great risk we're now facing" is that the boats will start.

"We have approved putting in place the reopening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of transfers", Morrison said.

"What my job is is to make sure the beast doesn't wake up, but I can tell you Bill Shorten's given it a big poke... and he's done it willfully".

"My job now is to do everything in my power, in the power of the government, to ensure what the Parliament has done to weaken our borders does not result in boats coming to Australia".

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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.

"If you think that by buying a ticket on an unsafe boat, paying a people smuggler, a criminal syndicate, you'll get a better deal to come to Australia, you're wrong".

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

"I'm going to do everything to make sure that doesn't happen".

"It might be all fine and nice to talk about these nuances here in this courtyard", he said.

The contest will play out differently in different seats and demographics across the country, but Morrison has made it clear that any new boat arrival "is on Bill Shorten and Labor's head".

"It's only the cohort who are now on Manus Island and Nauru who will benefit from legislation".

Kon Karapanagiotidis from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said the Government was trying to "whip up hysteria and fear-mongering", ignoring the fact the new laws applied only to the existing cohort of refugees.

At the time, Immigration Minister David Coleman said the centre would be kept in a state of "operational readiness" so it could be re-opened at short notice.

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