27 March 2024

Senate delivers Labor an 'almighty backfire' over its deportation bill

| Chris Johnson
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The Senate has stalled Labor’s migration deportation bill, sending it away for a six-week committee inquiry. Photo: APH File.

The Federal Government has failed in its mad dash effort to get its controversial deportation bill signed off before the Easter break.

In a move that has severely embarrassed the Albanese Government, the Opposition has joined with the crossbench in the Senate to delay the bill.

The legislation seeks to make it easier to deport non-citizens and harder for detainees to challenge the immigration system in the High Court.

New laws would also give immigration ministers exceptional powers to pause visas for citizens of countries that will not take refugees back.

While it passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (26 March), the Senate sent the bill to a two-hour inquiry that night that left everyone but Labor deciding it needed further scrutiny.

With the Coalition joining Labor to pass the bill in the House, the government had hoped the Senate would also pass the bill today (Wednesday 27 March).

But instead, the Coalition teamed up with the Greens and Independents to delay the bill for at least another six weeks in order for a more thorough inquiry to be held.

Independent ACT senator David Pocock said the slap down was an “almighty backfire” for the government, which he had already accused of trying to bypass proper parliamentary process.

READ ALSO Greens, independents decry deportation bill ‘disgracefully’ rushed through parliament

Senator Pocock will instead move amendments to the bill to include protections for women and also provide a sunset clause to the minister’s new powers.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher did her best to persuade the Senate that the bill needed passing urgently, but the plea fell on deaf ears.

Coalition senators appeared to surprise their crossbench counterparts by voting for the delay.

“We see today the Opposition who talks big on all these issues siding with the Greens political party to defer a matter that our advice and our advisors have told us is important to get done,” Senator Gallagher said.

“No more lectures from those opposite. No more out trying to wind-up the scare campaigns.

“No more accusations of us not working in the national interest because we see a clear example today of the Opposition not acting in the national interest.”

Shadow home affairs minister James Paterson said the bill warranted a “proper inquiry” as there were serious issues at stake and officials at last night’s hastily held inquiry were unable to answer basic questions about the bill’s intentions.

“Coalition senators basically begged the government to demonstrate why it was so urgent, why it had to be rushed to the parliament in 36 hours and they failed to do so,” Senator Paterson said.

“They couldn’t explain how many people this would affect. They couldn’t explain what the consequences of this would be for any upcoming High Court cases…

“We are very concerned about the failure to do work on third country resettlement options. We are very concerned this might inadvertently encourage people to get back on boats again.”

READ ALSO Attorney-General felt it was his ‘duty’ to probe DPP’s discontinuation rate of sexual assault cases

But it was Greens senator David Shoebridge whose critique of Labor’s failed political ploy was the most savage.

“This is a pure political play that is unravelling as we watch,” Senator Shoebrigde said.

“This is about Labor trying to outflank the Coalition and move to the right of the Coalition in a bill that they seem to have just made up in some long late night drinking session and then brought to the parliament.

“You couldn’t make this stuff up.

“This was meant to be a government that’s now run by adults but this was like some sort of kiddies’ crayon drawing being brought into parliament and then defended by embarrassed officials and half-briefed ministers. That’s what we got last night.”

The reporting date for the inquiry is 7 May, but the Greens are striving to have pushed back even further to allow the legal affairs committee to give thorough scrutiny.

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Lefty Boomer9:32 pm 27 Mar 24

Under pressure from a rabidly anti-left press, the government crafts a dreadful piece of legislation that should never have been produced, the Opposition demonstrated their contempt for the Australian people by trashing their ‘concern’ for border security with their delaying tactics in the senate just to ‘get at’ Labor. Meh!

not a great deal of detail. Why do women need a specific protection? How are we defining woman, i see a loophole

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