Australia to revive island detention centre

Prime Minister Scott Morrison leaves the House of Representatives after losing a vote

DOMINIC LORRIMER FAIRFAX MEDIAPrime Minister Scott Morrison leaves the House of Representatives after losing a vote

The Australian government said Wednesday it would reopen a mothballed island detention camp in anticipation of a new wave of asylum seekers arriving by boat after Parliament passed legislation that would give sick asylum seekers easier access to mainland hospitals.

The Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) joined forces with the Greens and independent Members of Parliament (MPs) to pass the medical evacuations bill by 75 votes to the governing Liberal-National Party coalition (LNP)'s 74.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned the new laws will weaken Australia's border control.

Morrison added: "My job now is to ensure that boats don't come, my job now is to do everything in my power to ensure that what the parliament has done to weaken our borders does not result in boats coming to Australia".

US President Donald Trump has previously described the Obama-era deal as "rotten" and made it abundantly clear he resents taking in the refugees.

Mr Morrison declared national security measures would be strengthened under the government's Operation Sovereign Borders after the medivac bill was passed.

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

Morrison said he would repeal the "foolish law" if his government were re-elected.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also said people smugglers were already using the law changes in their marketing.

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

"Have no doubt this man sitting opposite me is not fit to be the prime minister of this country", Mr Dutton said of the Opposition Leader.

The Christmas Island is an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, lying south of Java in Indonesia.

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The medevac policy will only apply to asylum seekers and refugees who are already on Manus Island and Nauru.

The Federal Government is re-opening the Christmas Island detention centre in case of a sudden resurgence in boat arrivals.

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

Kon Karapanagiotidis from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said the Government was trying to "whip up hysteria and fear-mongering", ignoring the fact the new laws applied only to the existing cohort of refugees. After he left office, the centre-left Labor government began holding refugees on Christmas Island.

David Coleman, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs at Sydney's International Airport, Sydney, Australia, on November 21, 2018.

He pointed out the medivac bill only applied to asylum seekers and refugees now stranded on Manus Island and Nauru.

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