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CONTROVERSIAL DETENTION CENTER ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND REOPENS IN AUSTRALIA

Australian PM Scott Morrison says he will re-open a controversial detention centre on Christmas Island, after a historic defeat in parliament.

On Tuesday, non-government MPs secured enough votes to pass a bill making it easier for sick refugees held offshore to be treated in the country.

Mr Morrison said the law would weaken the nation’s tough border policies and embolden human traffickers.

Opponents accused him of spreading fear before an impending election.

Since 2013, Australia has sent asylum seekers arriving by boat to detention centres on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea) and Nauru.

It previously also sent detainees to Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean which is about 2,600km (1,600 miles) from the mainland and 300km south of Indonesia.

The UN has criticised Australia’s detention policies as “inhumane”, but the nation insists they prevent human trafficking and save lives at sea.

Last year, Australians were horrified by reports of a mental health crisis among children on Nauru – including cases of attempted suicide.

It prompted the Labor opposition, the Greens and crossbench MPs to support a bill that gives doctors the power to recommend that refugees be transferred to Australia for treatment.

However, the immigration minister would still have some authority to overrule transfers.

Mr Morrison fiercely opposed the bill but it was narrowly approved in the House of Representatives, where the government does not have a majority. It later cleared the Senate.

On Wednesday, Mr Morrison said the government would re-open the Christmas Island centre “to deal with the prospect of arrivals… and transfers” – arguing both were now more likely.

 

 

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