Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suffered a historic defeat in Parliament Tuesday over the nation's refugee policy, leaving some to suggest it may trigger a no-confidence vote.
The new bill would allow asylum seekers to be transferred to Australia for medical attention if two doctors say they need it, unless the Home Affairs Minister rejects it on security concerns, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australia's House of Representatives voted to approve the bill despite Morrison's concerns, marking the first time the government lost on significant legislation in Parliament since 1941.
"Votes will come and they will go, they do not trouble me," Morrison said after the vote, downplaying suggestions that it will lead to a no-confidence vote against him. "Where we will always stand and the Australian people can always trust us to do is to have the metal to ensure the integrity of our border protection framework."
If the bill passes the Senate, it would allow doctors to make medical assessments of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus islands based on if they need medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment, if they are not receiving appropriate medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment, and if it is necessary to transfer the person for appropriate medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Morrison's government argued that the bill would welcome asylum seekers who could endanger national security. But supporters said amendments to the bill addressed those issues, specifically by allowing Home Affairs to make the call on potential threats.
"The government tells us that this bill is a constitutional crisis. The fact of the matter is this bill is about providing treatment to sick people," opposition leader Bill Shorten told Parliament.
"We can have strong borders while still fulfilling our duty of care to the people in our care," Shorten said. "This bill and our amendments are about Australia's character. It's about how we treat sick people in our care."