A RETURN to offshore processing of asylum seekers is being debated in the senate this morning after a bill put forward by Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott passed the House of Representatives.
The debate comes after an incident last week left 70 asylum seekers dead in the water when their boat sank north of Christmas Island.
Another four people are believed to have died when a boat carrying around 130 passengers capsized north of Christmas Island on Wednesday morning.
Mr Oakeshott spoke in parliament before his bill - The Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill - was passed yesterday.
“This is, as much as anything, [about] trying to stop the loss of life at sea of people trying to get to Australia for a number of reasons," he said.
“This is trying to reach bilateral agreements with countries in the Asia-Pacific region to slow the movement of people within our region. This is attempting to try to break criminal syndicates that are running off the edges of asylum seekers and genuine refugees and are involved in the insidious trades of people smuggling and—the one that does not get much airtime in Australia but should—the worst crime of all, in my view, and that is the crime of people trafficking.”
Observers have said the bill is likely to be voted down in the Senate today.
Senator Chris Evans spoke in the Upper House shortly after the debate began this morning.
"We have to find a way of managing these issues better than they are being managed at the moment and that requires us to find something that undercuts the business model of the people smugglers in Malaysia and Indonesia."
The Senate is expected to vote later today.