Derryn Hinch’s support for refugee medical evacuations in doubt ahead of crucial vote
The bill that delivered the Federal Government a historic loss in the House of Representatives hangs in the balance this morning as a crucial crossbench senator reassesses his support.
- The medical evacuation legislation that delivered the government a historic loss arrives in the Senate
- Crucial crossbencher Derryn Hinch’s support in doubt as he seeks a security briefing
- Coalition claims the new law will restart boat arrivals, a claim Labor and the crossbench rejects
Senator Derryn Hinch, who supported the initial bill for medical evacuations, has asked for security briefings before he decides whether to support rhe amended legislation.
Labor teamed up with independents in the Lower House yesterday to pass the new law, which gives doctors more power to decide whether asylum seekers on Manus Island or Nauru should come to Australia for treatment.
The legislation will now go to the Senate, where it could pass into law with crossbench support.
“I’ve made it quite clear I still believe in offshore processing. But I just want to see before I make a decision where everything is at at the moment,” Senator Hinch said.
“We haven’t physically seen the amendments that went through the House.”
Labor, when the Senate started sitting for the day, immediately attempted to force the Government to deal with the matter in the Upper House.
The Government attempted to block that but ultimately failed when Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance and independents Tim Storer and Senator Hinch joined forces.
Despite supporting Labor to bring on the debate, Senator Hinch is still yet to say how he will ultimately vote on the amended bill.
Senator Jacinta Collins said it was crucial the Senate dealt with the bill before any other item.
“The attempts of the Government today to prevent this issue from being dealt with as a matter of priority show they are scared, just scared of losing another vote,” she said.
“They are a government that’s divided, a government in chaos.”
The Coalition claims the legislation will lead to the people smuggling trade restarting.
“What this motion by the Labor Party shows to the Australian people, is just how cocky, how reckless, how irresponsible and how weak Bill Shorten is as leader of the Labor Party,” Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann said.
“Bill Shorten is demonstrating to all Australians that he does not have the strength of character or the good judgement required to be prime minister of Australia.”