27 June 2012

Julia Gillard wins major victory in immigration debate

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has won a major victory today after receiving a majority of support for independent MP Rob Oakeshott's immigration bill in the Australian House of Representatives.

Australian immigration

While Mr Oakeshott's bill may not make it through the Senate, the successful vote in the House of Representatives is seen as a major victory for Ms Gillard.

After the sinking of a second boat in a week, a solution to the Australian immigration situation became an urgent issue which looked set to stall once more with Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott refusing to allow legislation which would permit offshore processing in Malaysia to pass.

However, a vote on Mr Oakeshott's independent bill, which permits offshore processing in any of 50 countries which are part of the Bali Process, including Malaysia, passed by 74 votes to 72 after six hours of an emotionally charged debate.

The successful vote means the government can now proceed with its Malaysia Solution which was struck down by the High Court last year.

Ms Gillard's governing Labor Party received the support of three independent MPs, which proved vital, after agreeing to a 12 month review of the Malaysia Solution.

However, both Mr Abbott and the Australian Greens vowed that Mr Oakeshott's bill would not pass the Senate, which it needs to do to become law.

"We may possibly get this bill through this chamber, but that's as far as it will go," said Mr Abbott.

Immigration spokesperson for the Greens, Sarah Hanson-Young, was equally adamant that a law which permitted offshore processing of any kind would not receive their support:

"We will not be supporting any attempt to dump vulnerable people offshore, out of sight, out of mind."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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