Labor refugee law push
BILL Shorten has vowed not to weaken Australia’s offshore processing of refugees and boat turnbacks despite a move to hasten medical treatment for people on Nauru and Manus Island.
Mr Shorten traded blows with Prime Minister Scott Morrison after federal parliament descended into chaos on its last sitting day of the year when the government avoided a humiliating defeat by shutting down the House of Representatives before the refugee Bill was sent back, where Labor and the crossbench had the numbers to pass the legislation.
Mr Morrison accused Labor of playing political games instead of caring about the refugees and said the laws would undermine border protection.
Mr Shorten said politicians needed to take the advice of medical professionals, and the proposed laws would have not weakened offshore processing.
“We want to resettle people overseas, and what we’ve got to do is make sure the people smugglers can’t sell their crooked and wicked promise and exploitation of vulnerable people that if you get on an unsafe vessel, it will all be happy,” Mr Shorten said.
“At the end of the day, I do think we think should take refugees in this country, but we don’t have a policy that is actually dangerous to people.”
The changes would have allowed critically ill refugees to be flown to Australia for medical treatment on the advice of two doctors, although the Home Affairs Minister could still override the advice on national security grounds.
The government faces the losing the vote on the refugee Bill when parliament returns in February — the first legislative defeat for a government in the lower house since 1929.