Australian immigration amendments may have difficulty passing in the Senate

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Howard government's proposed amendments to immigration laws to allow offshore processing may face a difficult passage through the Australian Senate with four coalition senators refusing to state whether or not they will support the amendments. The Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday, despite three coalition MPs crossing the floor to vote against the government.

On Thursday, Petro Georgiou (Kooyong, Liberal), Russell Broadbent (McMillan, Liberal) and Judi Moylan (Pearce, Liberal) crossed the floor to vote with the opposition against the government's proposed reforms. Two other coalition MPs abstained from the vote. The legislation still passed, due to the coalition's commanding majority in Australia's lower house.

In the Senate, where the government has a one seat majority, it may be difficult for the legislation to pass with coalition senators Judith Troeth (Victoria, Liberal), Marise Payne (New South Wales, Liberal), Russell Trood (Queensland, Liberal) and Barnaby Joyce (Queensland, National) refusing to indicate which way they will be voting when the legislation comes before the senate on Monday or Tuesday.

The government now needs all of these senators to vote for this bill because Steve Fielding from the Family First Party has now officially announced that he will vote aganist this bill because he disagrees with sending asylum seekers to Nauru instead of being processed in Australia

Australia's major opposition party, the Australian Labor Party has urged coalition senators to follow the lead of their lower house counterparts and defeat the bill. "I do hope that in the Senate others on the Coalition, who share that view, will ensure its defeat," said Kim Beazley, leader of the opposition.