It would have been the government’s first loss of this kind since 1929.
Labor and the Greens, along with some crossbench support, managed to push a bill to transfer sick asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia all the way to the Senate.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said ‘people who are being tortured at the hands of the Liberal government, we are denying them access to medical treatment’.
But thanks to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s unwavering effort to keep Australia’s borders secure, the time-wasting tactics of the upper house meant the lower house was adjourned before the bill was passed. Thus, it never made it to the House of Representatives for final approval.
We were minutes from a humiliating defeat, but ScoMo did not back down, even on the final day of Parliament for 2018. Thanks to his efforts, the bill has been put off until next year.
ScoMo uses every tactic necessary
As Matt Coughlan and Daniel McCulloch from AAP report, prior to the Senate sitting on Thursday, Morrison vowed to reporters his commitment to protecting Australia’s borders:
‘I will do everything in my power to ensure that these suggested changes that would undermine our border protection laws never see the light of day.
‘I will fight them using whatever tool or tactic I have available to me to ensure that we do not undermine our border protection laws.’
It was conservative senators Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi who performed Morrison’s time-wasting plan in the upper house.
But while this plan achieved its aim in putting off the asylum seeker bill, it came at a sacrifice. The legislation to allow police to access encrypted messages had to also be put off, even though Morrison has noted this measure is integral to Australia’s national security.
This reality upset Labor leader Bill Shorten, who had agreed to pass the encryption bill without addressing any potential amendments. He was also soured by the asylum seeker bill going amiss.
As AAP report, Shorten told Canberra reporters:
‘I don’t want to go another two months, three months, until the government come back to work, and leave Australians at the risk of being exposed to security threats.’
But Morrison was quick to retaliate, putting Shorten’s complaints down to the immaturity of being a sore loser.
‘This is a serious place. It should not be treated like a game. This is not reality television,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘Bill Shorten does not have the mettle to deal with national security … Bill Shorten is a clear and present threat to Australia’s national security.’
Of course, that same claim was also wrongly directed at Morrison himself.
Morrison’s overprotection seen as irrational
Sydney independent Kerryn Phelps insists the coalition has been spreading the wrong information regarding this asylum seeker bill.
As AAP reports, she told Sky News:
‘This [bill] doesn’t affect border protection policies. It will not restart the boats. The sort of rhetoric that we were hearing earlier is just plain wrong.’
She added that even if this bill was passed, the immigration minister would still need to sign for the approval of each and every medical evacuation.
But Morrison rightly pointed out that such a process would ‘completely crumble’ Australia’s offshore processing system.
While Phelps is optimistic about the bill’s chances comes February 2019, Morrison insists he ‘will fight them on this’.
He has a couple of months to think of a new plan on how to prevent this border-thrashing bill from passing.
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