LYNE MP Robert Oakeshott says he is disappointed his bill to revive offshore processing of asylum seekers was knocked back by the Senate.
The Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill put forward by Mr Oakeshott would have allowed asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia and Nauru and it was passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
After a surprisingly frank and honest debate in the Senate yesterday, senators eventually voted not to pass the legislation which had first been put forward in February.
Mr Oakeshott last night told the Port News he was disappointed.
“The Nationals and the Greens sat side by side to defeat a bill that would have reduced the loss of life at sea,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“It’s back to the drawing board.”
The debate came 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 passenger capsized north of Christmas Island on Wednesday morning.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard pleas to senators to pass the amended bill before Parliament’s winter break was not enough to prevent its defeat.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott spoke last night.
“I very much regret that after 24 hours of impassioned, sincere and at times very moving debate the Parliament has come to this deeply unsatisfactory impasse. We have not a solution, but a stalemate,” he said.
Opposition Senator Chris Evans spoke in the Upper House and said short-term detention in Nauru would not deter asylum seekers but he would consider a compromise.
“This Government has been prepared to compromise to try and get a bill through this parliament that allows us to make a difference on this terrible unfolding tragedy.”
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon from hospital said he would support the amended bill and earlier in the week Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young wiped away tears when she spoke in Parliament of the plight of a young asylum seeker.