Health Care

Australia to reopen Christmas Island detention centre

Australia to reopen Christmas Island detention centre”

Australia's government suffered an embarrassing defeat in parliament on Tuesday as the lower house voted to allow asylum seekers held offshore to receive medical care in Australia, the first such loss for a government in 78 years.

This bloc of 75 was enough to pass the bill over the 73 government votes and another vote from Queensland independent Bob Katter.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had staunchly opposed the bill, responded by saying the measure could undermine national security, offering a preview of what is likely to be his campaign pitch, and the election's central issue.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the reopening of the Christmas Island detention centre, marking a harsh response to the historic asylum seeker medical transfer bill which passed in the House of Representatives last night.

The Prime Minister was repeatedly asked to say the fast-tracked transfers would not apply to new boat arrivals.

"My job now is to ensure that the boats don't come", he told reporters at Parliament House on Wednesday.

Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong said Mr Morrison was playing politics ahead of the election, likely to be held in May.

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would reopen the Christmas Island detention centre - which closed a year ago - to cope with what he predicted would be an influx of transfers from Manus Island and Nauru.

More news: SPAIN: Right Wingers Rally To Bring Down Socialist PM

Under a harsh policy meant to deter asylum seekers from reaching Australia by boat, Canberra sent arrivals to Nauru and Papua New Guinea for processing and barred them from resettling in Australia.

The prime minister pledged to reverse the laws if the coalition was re-elected at the poll expected in mid-May.

The push to speed up medical evacuations was first made by independent MP Kerryn Phelps a year ago after she won the Liberal Party stronghold of Wentworth when former PM Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in a party coup.

Section 53 is "non-justiciable" and therefore a court will not decide if a law is valid, meaning the government can not challenge the medical transfer bill in the High Court.

Hundreds of asylum seekers who have been allowed into Australia for hospital treatment have received court injunctions that prevent their return to the islands.

"In a number of those cases, the delay in accessing medical treatment risked life-threatening consequences for the children and adults concerned", she added.

"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". "This puts Australia back on the map for people smugglers and Bill Shorten has that on his shoulders".



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