Petro Georgiou and Russell Broadbent have crossed the floor to sit with
Labor in opposition to the government’s controversial migration legislation.
Judi Moylan, despite intense speculation over her preselection
battle for her West Australian seat of Pearce, also crossed the floor. Bruce Baird abstained.
The new migration bill, which will ensure that future asylum seekers
who arrive by boat will be processed on the island of Nauru,
without access to Australian courts, has been passed by the House of
Representatives despite the opposition of the three Liberal backbenchers.
The rebel MPs have come under fire over the last few days for refusing to toe the party line, but they say the
bill signifies the scrapping of an agreement they struck with the Prime Minister
last year to keep women and children out of detention.
All three MPs made impassioned speeches to parliament yesterday asserting their opposition to the bill.
The MPs don’t accept Howard’s assertion that the new approach is consistent with a deal
he struck last year to inject more compassion into the treatment of
Howard had warned that the Government faced a tough re-election fight,
saying any sign of disunity would be damaging and urging the
dissidents to abstain rather than “vote with the Labor Party”.
Ultimately, however, their decision to cross the floor made no difference to
the end result, with the legislation passing by 78 votes to 62.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it’s predicted it will face an even stronger opposition.