Australia government bites the dust over refugee bill

Feb 12, 2019, 5:32 AM EST
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces a tough election campaign after the humiliating loss.
(Source: Melvin A/flickr)

The Australian government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was up for a major political embarrassment on Tuesday after losing a vote on its own legislation in the lower house in a first in decades.

The Labor opposition and crossbench MPs joined hands to pass a medical transfers bill with an opposition amendment that will make it easier for refugees, detained in Australia’s offshore facilities, to be treated in the country, writes the BBC.

Australia has faced global flak for “inhumane” conditions in its offshore refugee detention centers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, where scores of children have been reported too depressed to eat or sleep, and for worse, without any access to proper medical facilities. The new bill aims to give doctors a greater say in recommending evacuations of sick refugees for treatment in Australia.

While the government attempts to bat away any criticism that links the loss to a deficit of public confidence, in reality, the development is a big setback ahead of the elections, notes ABC News.