Australia asylum-seeker bill defeated

2012-06-28 12:01
AP

AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Sydney - The Australian Senate on Thursday rejected a bill to send boatpeople offshore for processing, leaving the divisive issue of asylum-seekers at a stalemate following a spate of deadly incidents.

The bill had passed the lower House of Representatives on Wednesday after an emotional debate sparked by another crowded asylum-seeker boat sinking off the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island, near Indonesia.

Around 130 people were rescued, one body was recovered and three people went down with the vessel. Wednesday's incident came just days after another boat capsized, with 110 people saved but an estimated 90 killed.

But the bill was always doomed to fail in the upper house, with the conservative opposition and the Australian Greens vowing to block it. It was defeated 39 votes to 29.

The opposition supports offshore processing in principle but refuses to back any option the government puts forward, seizing it as a potential opportunity to derail Labour's fragile coalition, which holds a one-seat voting majority.

The left-leaning Greens, on whom the government relies for its rule, are opposed to any offshore processing.

No deterrence

"I very much regret that after 24 hours of impassioned, sincere and at times very moving debate, the parliament has come to this deeply unsatisfactory impasse," said opposition leader Tony Abbott.

"We have not a solution, but a stalemate."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that with the bill's failure, there would be no effective message of deterrence to people-smugglers.

"What it will mean is people will [still] get on boats," she said.

With few options left, Gillard announced that she had commissioned an urgent expert review of asylum-seeker policy led by former defence force chief Angus Houston.

"[He will] provide a report to me and to the nation about the best way forward for our nation in dealing with asylum-seeker issues," she said, adding that she expected the report by the time parliament sits again in six weeks.

Refugee swap

The Australian media have been scathing of the politicians' inability to find a compromise, with the Sydney Morning Herald blaring Paralysis in Parliament on its front-page.

"The Australian parliament is failing us. It is putting politicking ahead of human life," it said.

Gillard's Labour coalition government supported the private member's bill from independent MP Rob Oakeshott, which attempted to revive a deal clinched last year to send 800 boatpeople to Malaysia.

In exchange, Canberra would take 4 000 registered refugees from Malaysia.

The government was unable to pass the required legislation through parliament without the support of the opposition, which expressed concern that Malaysia was not a signatory to UN refugee conventions.

The Oakeshott bill, seen as a compromise, would have allowed the immigration minister to designate any nation as an "offshore assessment country" if it was party to the Bali Process - a framework for dealing with asylum-seekers involving more than 40 nations.

Working with Indonesia

As a sweetener, Gillard offered to re-open a detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru if the opposition agreed to vote for the bill, which would allow processing in Malaysia.

But Abbott, who supports processing on Nauru and turning boats back where possible, said he would never back the Malaysia option.

The Greens said Australia's humanitarian refugee intake should instead be increased while working more closely with Indonesia, where many of the rickety boats originate.

"These are the lives of the people we are playing with," Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the Senate.

"When people arrive on your doorstep, you have an obligation to help them."

Read more on:    julia gillard  |  australia  |  refugees
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 19:35 PM
    Road name: M7 Vanguard Drive
    ROADWORKS - traffic restrictions between the R300 and Highlands Drive - expect delays
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R4300.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come up to alert you of your security needs. It may be that you need to create a better structure for your finances...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.