Australia to reopen detention centre after Senate passes medical evacuation bill

And with a statement from Speaker Tony Smith Australia's constitution suddenly came into play

After Australia's conservative government lost a key vote on the treatment of asylum seekers held in offshore camps on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Wednesday that he would reopen a controversial immigration detention camp on Christmas Island, a part of the country but nearly 1,000 miles to the northwest of mainland Australia. 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.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said on February 10 the change could bring a return of the days when thousands of asylum-seekers traveled to Indonesia and then paid smugglers to take them on to Australia by boat.

Opponents pointed out that the bill applies only to people already on Nauru and Manus Island, meaning new arrivals would not be eligible for transfer to Australia.

He also said police, the military and Australian Border Force have been working on "contingency plans" in the event laws related to asylum seekers in offshore detention are changed.

His government, he said, was adopting "100 percent" of a series of recommendations from the country's security services to further tighten efforts to prevent the arrival of migrants and asylum-seekers by sea.

The U.N. refugee agency, in a separate statement praising Muhamat's advocacy work, said that UNHCR "continues to urge that solutions be found for all refugees and asylum-seekers under Australia's "offshore processing" in Papua New Guinea and Nauru as a matter of urgency".

"If they do come you can thank the Labor Party and Bill Shorten because he is the one who has led this process to weaken our borders".

Earlier on Tuesday, the ALP made some compromises on the bill, introducing amendments to give the Home Affairs Minister the power to overrule a medical transfer on specific security concerns and making changes to avoid a possible breach of the Australian Constitution.

The Morrison government has beefed up its border protection measures and will reopen the Christmas Island detention centre in anticipation of what it claims will be a resumption of the people smuggling trade.

Opinion polls consistently show the Labor Party easily taking control of the government in the election.

When the sitting government last lost a vote on substantive legislation in 1929, then prime minister Stanley Bruce immediately called an election, and lost it.

Yes, the government is wielding its reluctance to provide Australian medical care, and its use of harsh facilities like Christmas Island, as an apparent weapon against asylum seekers.

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

"The opening of Christmas Island, I believe, was a political gesture created to fuel domestic political unrest but I'm anxious that we'll have tragic consequences because this is a government addicted to slogans and fear", he added.

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

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said part of the Christmas Island facilities "can be opened very quickly".

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