13 February 2019

The Morrison Government was defeated in the House of Representatives yesterday, as Labor and the crossbenchers combined to pass a bill to facilitate medical transfers of asylum seekers and refugees to Australia. While the bill is imperfect — it contains, for example, the disturbing implication that people who have committed crimes should be denied humane medical treatment — it is nonetheless a big step forward for the victims of our shameful island gulag policy.The ABC’s Laura Tingle identifies the most significant aspect of yesterday’s vote: “A defeat for the Government might be what makes the headlines, but the real significance is what the vote this afternoon says about how our politics is changing. For the first time, a majority of our politicians have stood against the tide of asylum politics. … This has happened amid signs that the Government’s escalations of its warnings about the risks of the medical evacuation amendments, everything from letting rapists and paedophiles into the country to restarting the boats, seems to have done it no good with voters.” Green shoots!