Australia to reopen Christmas Island detention center after defeat on refugee policy

Posted February 15, 2019

The changes included a provision that only the 1,000 asylum seekers now held on Nauru and Papua New Guinea and not any future arrivals would be considered for medical evacuation under the new regime.

"These are not matters that go to issues of confidence and I don't consider them in those terms", Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

"There is no question that people smugglers will be hearing very clearly that the policy in Australia has changed", Dutton said.

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

Despite a bruising and highly personal lobbying effort, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was defeated by MPs who insisted refugees held in offshore facilities have the right to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment.

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The amendment, approved by the Senate on Wednesday, dealt a blow to the ruling conservative coalition which is trailing heavily in polls ahead of an election due in May.

"Where we will always stand, and the Australian people can always trust us to do, is to have the mettle to ensure the integrity of our border protection framework. the Labor Party demonstrated tonight they have no such mettle".

His announcement was made after he convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Committee of the Cabinet.

Operation Sovereign Borders and other parts of the government's border security operations will be beefed up, with more than $1.4 billion earmarked to be spent over four years.

The Australian government announced on Wednesday the reopening of a controversial detention centre on Christmas Island a day after it lost a vote on a bill to help evacuate critically ill refugees from offshore processing centres to get treatment in the country.

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Labor and the crossbenchers combined on Tuesday to win a series of 75-74 votes over the coalition government on a bill to give easier medical transfers to asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten got a briefing in security on Monday.

The prime minister said the Labor had "no idea of the consequences they are playing with" and "will unleash a world of woe again" if it supports the bill.

Labor also pushed back the decision time from 24 hours to 72 hours in response to ASIO's concerns it would not be able to conduct a security assessment within that shortened period.

"We want strong borders", he says.

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"The Australian people have looked at Bill Shorten today and they have found him weak, and he is".