Derryn Hinch to vote with Labor and pass refugee medical transfer bill

Federal Minister for Immigration David Coleman

His coalition has to call an election by May and has been trailing the opposition centre-left Labor Party in opinion polls.

The fast-tracked medical transfers law will only apply to refugees and asylum seekers already on Manus Island and Nauru.

The push to speed up medical evacuations was first made by independent MP Kerryn Phelps a year ago after she won the Liberal Party stronghold of Wentworth when former PM Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in a party coup.

The Prime Minister is making national security a central theme in his re-election pitch.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he expected more boats to head for Australia in treacherous voyages that sometimes end in tragedy.

Furious at Labor for insisting on the changes, the government is now preparing for an election fight on border protection by claiming Mr Shorten would dismantle offshore processing and allow more asylum seekers to arrive by boat.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a security committee of his cabinet agreed to reopen the camp on Wednesday on the advice of senior security officials.

The bill approved by the lower house must go to another vote in the Senate, where the government does not appear to have the numbers to stop the new scheme becoming law.

"With the last few children leaving Nauru and the provision of adequate medical care now in sight, we are hopefully witnessing an end to the race to the bottom on refugee policy", said Mr Glendenning.

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He said the new laws only allowed the minister to refuse entry to Australia if someone had been sentenced, not if they were only facing charges.

"My job now is to do everything in my power and the power of the government to ensure what the Parliament has done to weaken our border does not result in boats coming to Australia".

He said the move was to deal with "the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of (medivac) transfers".

The Christmas Island immigration detention camp, south of Jakarta, Indonesia, was a favorite target of people smugglers who brought asylum seekers from Asia, Africa and the Middle East in rickety boats from Indonesian ports before the trade virtually stopped in recent years.

Shonky bankers could soon be jailed for up to 15 years and corporate crooks fined up to $525 million.

The amendments to the bill were introduced in Parliament back in December.

Labor has also added detail to the "character test" to be used to reject transfers if a refugee has a criminal record, helping to address concerns raised by the Greens and Dr Phelps.

"Under my government Australia will be stronger".

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