We’re not go­ing soft on the boats

La­bor won’t weaken off­shore pro­cess­ing

The Advertiser - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY

BILL Shorten has vowed not to weaken Aus­tralia’s off­shore pro­cess­ing of refugees and boat turn­backs, de­spite a move to fas­ten med­i­cal treat­ment for peo­ple on Nauru and Manus Is­land.

The Op­po­si­tion Leader traded blows with Prime Minister Scott Mor­ri­son af­ter Fed­eral Par­lia­ment de­scended into chaos on its last sit­ting day of the year when the Gov­ern­ment des­per­ately tried to avoid a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat.

The Mor­ri­son Gov­ern­ment was forced to shut 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 ac­tu­ally car­ing about the refugees and said the laws would un­der­mine border pro­tec­tion.

Mr Shorten, pic­tured, 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.

“That is the path that has led to drown­ings at sea. At the end of the day, I do think we 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 – but the Home Af­fairs Minister could still over­ride the ad­vice on na­tional se­cu­rity grounds.

The Gov­ern­ment is fac­ing the prospect of los­ing the vote on the refugee Bill when Par­lia­ment re­turns in Fe­bru­ary – which would be the first leg­isla­tive de­feat for a gov­ern­ment in the Lower House since 1929.

Mr Mor­ri­son said fewer than 10 chil­dren re­mained on Nauru and that num­ber would con­tinue to drop be­fore the end of the year.

The PM de­nied the move to ad­journ the House of Reps was to save the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment from a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat.

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