Christmas Island move 'hysteria'

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Addressing the defeat on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who oversaw the implementation of Australia's hardline border policies during his time as immigration minister, accused ALP leader Bill Shorten of prioritizing political games over national security. The Conservative coalition's historic parliamentary defeat will deprive ministers of the power to decide if illegal migrants being held on islands in the Pacific are sick enough to be sent to Australia.

The laws will only apply to people now offshore and will not apply to any future boat arrivals.

'He has no strength on this issue and he can not be trusted to follow through on any of the border protection measures that our government has put in place'.

Under a controversial offshore detention policy, more than 1,000 asylum seekers have been held on the Pacific islands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru for six years after they were intercepted trying to get to Australia by boat.

A war of words is heating up between the two leaders over border protection after Labor passed a medical evacuations bill for refugees yesterday.

Under the new laws, the home affairs minister will have 72 hours to make a decision on whether to agree to a medical transfer.

The government had similarly made the offer only available to refugees on the islands at the time to avoid attracting new asylum seekers, Mr.

But authorities on Christmas Island questioned the move to reopen the detention centre, saying their health facilities are limited and they "quite regularly" medically evacuate people because their small hospital can not handle complex treatment.

Section 53 of the constitution states the Senate "may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people" - a provision that gives the government grounds to challenge the crossbench bill.

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'I just say to people trying to put out the welcome mat for people-smugglers, the medivac legislation applies for people who are already there.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said up to 300 people on Manus Island and Nauru could secure immediate medical approval to come to Australia.

The reference to 2001 harks back to the beginning of the highly-charged debate over boat people debate in Australian politics, when John Howard refused to allow the Norwegian cargo ship, MV Tampa, from landing at Christmas Island with survivors of a people smuggling venture.

Most refugees who arrived by boat have gone into the community in the past.

Labor is accusing the government of a hysterical response.

"Most of the people on Manus Island and Nauru are recognised refugees who have proven their lives would be in danger if they were returned to their countries of origin".

The Christmas Island detention centre was mothballed late past year as part of a pre-election promise to shutter a series of immigration facilities.

The government, however, says asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru have adequate health care, with 60 medical staff employed on rotation on the islands.

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