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Do you think the Medevac Bill will weaken Australia's borders or do you support it?

The conditions at these camps have been heavily criticized by human rights groups, and Doctors Without Borders warned late a year ago that about 30 percent of its patients on Nauru had attempted suicide.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had staunchly opposed the bill, responded by saying the measure could undermine national security, offering a preview of what is likely to be his campaign pitch, and the election's central issue.

The Australian government has suffered an historic defeat, losing a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1941.

In Geneva, Philip Lynch, director of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), welcomed the new law and said that Australia's system has "deliberately dehumanized" refugees and asylum seekers for decades.

"Well if this wasn't the biggest advertisement to people smugglers, I don't know what is", he said.

The ruling coalition lost the majority in the Lower House a year ago. This has meant that people needing urgent medical assistance have severely deteriorated or even died as a result of delays and political stalling.

Hundreds of asylum seekers who have been allowed into Australia for hospital treatment have received court injunctions that prevent their return to the islands.

Independent MP Kerryn Phelps and Greens leader Richard Di Natale have also predicted several hundred asylum seekers could qualify for transfer and treatment.

Trump open to letting March 1 deadline for China tariffs slide
China would likely respond by raising tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S goods that it announced previous year in retaliation. China has lashed out at the United States in the wake of another "freedom of navigation" exercise conducted by the U.S.


The government said at the time the Christmas Island facilities would be "kept in a state of operational readiness" so that they could be reopened at short notice.

"Most remarkably and outrageously, we've seen him announce the opening of Christmas Island".

As a stream of new arrivals swelled already cramped conditions, protests broke out that fueled an image of a government that had lost control of national security, propelling the conservatives back to power in 2013.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said part of the Christmas Island facilities "can be opened very quickly".

The new law only applies to the 1,000 people now on Manus Island and Nauru but Mr Morrison hedged when asked to confirm this fact on Wednesday, saying people smugglers did not care about the "nuance" of the law.

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Australia has long defended its offshore detention policy by arguing that it stops deaths at sea and disrupts the trade of people smuggling.

"I'm standing between people smugglers and bringing a boat to Australia", he said.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.


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