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Historic defeat: Government loses vote on border protection laws

The government has suffered a historic defeat after an amended bill on the medical transfer of asylum seekers passed 75-74 in the House of Representatives.

It makes the Morrison Government the first to lose a vote on legislation since 1929.

The bill gives doctors a greater say on the medical transfer of asylum seekers has had the support of Labor and most crossbenchers.

Refugee advocates erupted in applause, as Speaker Tony Smith read out the result.

The bill will now return to the Senate before it becomes law.

Former Liberal MP and immigration minister Philip Ruddock says the legislation will start the boats up again.

“You think [people smugglers] haven’t got something to sell? Of course they have.

“Unwinding that measure to give them permanent residency does remove one of the disincentives to people seeking to come by boat.”

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Proposed changes to Australia’s border protection laws have been declared “unconstitutional”.

Labor, the Greens and Independents are preparing to debate a series of changes to border policy.

Doctors would be given a greater say to decide whether sick asylum seekers should be evacuated to Australia.

The government is increasingly powerless to stop the bill passing through parliament.

It released legal advice suggesting the bill is unconstitutional because the changes require spending of taxpayer dollars, to appoint a medical panel to oversee the transfers.

Labor has altered the bill so that the doctors won’t be paid, but the government says the changes are reckless and will compromise national security.