Australian government defeated in parliament for first time in 78 years

Anthony Albanese during Question Time in the House of Representatives

Anthony Albanese says there may need to"tweak the bill on medical transfers for asylum seekers. AAP

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would reopen the Christmas Island detention centre - which closed previous year - to cope with what he predicted would be an influx of transfers from Manus Island and Nauru.

Scott Morrison says parliament has passed legislation that will weaken our borders.

The government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 90 years.

The Bill, which is an amendment to government legislation, was first passed by the Upper House in December, and will return to the Senate for a vote on Wednesday after several changes were made to it.

Earlier this morning, Mr Morrison called a meeting of the National Security Committee after which he declared the Christmas Island detention facility will be reopened.

Furious at Labor for insisting on the changes, the government is now preparing for an election fight on border protection by claiming Mr Shorten would dismantle offshore processing and allow more asylum seekers to arrive by boat.

Those policies have seen thousands of asylum-seekers languish for years on Manus and Nauru under conditions widely condemned by the United Nations and human rights organisation.

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"It's a historic moment for all of the refugees on Manus and Nauru", Boochani added.

Labor representatives said it was about "doing the right thing", and the vote provoked cheers from asylum-seeker activists in parliament's public gallery.

The leader of the Opposition in the Senate Senator Penny Wong, left, speaks to Senator Derryn Hinch after the passing of the Medivac bill.

Mr Morrison warned the changes claimed to be humanitarian but would encourage people smugglers and risk more deaths at sea from asylum seeker boats.

Australia's conservative minority government suffered a damaging political defeat on Tuesday (Feb 12), becoming the first administration in almost a century to lose a vote on major legislation and sparking calls for a snap election.

His Liberal party is keen to deliver a surplus budget before the election to underpin its claim to be the best custodians of Australia's finances.

Since then, the government had lurched from crisis to crisis, and a disastrous showing in elections in Victoria state sparked fears that it would also lose the national poll. The center, located on the Indian Ocean, held thousands of migrants and had closed down in 2018. A resident of the center, Leo Jai, described it as a "concentration camp" in a VICE column a year ago, writing that the detainees were "locked down in cramped compounds of 50 people" and were allowed only two hours out of their cells a day.

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