Australia will reopen its Christmas Island immigration centre after the Morrison government suffered a historic defeat in the House of Representatives on the refugee medevac bill.
The bill, which has now passed both houses of Parliament and will become law, will allow for the medical transfer of asylum seekers to Australia for treatment.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the detention centre would be reopened as part of “a range of strengthening” of Operation Sovereign Borders, arguing the new legislation will undermine border protection policies and could restart the people smuggling trade.
“We have approved putting in place the reopening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of transfers,” Morrison said.
The transfers will only apply to the existing cohort of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, although Morrison said he will work to reverse it if re-elected in the upcoming federal election.
“If we’re re-elected it won’t apply to anybody because I will reverse it,” he said.
“It’s not my law. I think it’s a foolish law. It’s a foolish law and it’s not one that I support.”
The Christmas Island detention centre closed in late 2018.
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