Derryn Hinch to decide fate of asylum seeker bill

Derryn Hinch to decide fate of asylum seeker bill

Welcome to news.com.au’s live politics blog.

The government is still dealing with the fallout from its historic defeat on the floor of the House — but the asylum seeker legislation still faces one final hurdle. Follow all the latest news live.

9:20am

LABOR TRIES MORE SHENANIGANS

Fresh off its victory in the House yesterday, Labor will try to hijack another piece of government legislation, this time in the Senate.

It’s going to introduce two amendments to strengthen penalties for misconduct in the corporate and financial sectors.

The first would increase jail time for the most serious corporate crimes from the 10 years proposed by the government to 15.

The other would double the government’s proposed cap on financial penalties for big businesses from $210 million to $525 million.

“The royal commission has shown that the big banks made hundreds of millions of dollars of profit from the fees for no service scandals, and the maximum penalty of $200 million that the government has proposed is simply too low,” said Shadow Minister for Financial Services Clare O’Neil.

“After what’s been exposed through the Royal Commission, Australians expect tough action on corporate crime, and Labor is delivering.”

The government will need to decide whether to join with Labor and support the amendments to its own legislation, or resist the move and risk another embarrassing defeat.

9:00am

‘GREEN LIGHT FOR PEOPLE SMUGGLERS’

Peter Dutton spoke to the media at Canberra Airport this morning and gave Bill Shorten a gobful, berating him for “ignoring” the advice of Australia’s security agencies.

“Mr Shorten has made a decision for political reasons that is going to see people come to our country who have serious allegations against them,” he said.

“There’s no sense calling in the experts and then ignoring that advice. And that’s exactly what I think Mr Shorten has done here.

“It’s very clear that an unscrambling and dismantling of Operation Sovereign Borders is going to see, I think, a return of boats. It’s going to see people going back into detention.

“What Bill Shorten supported in the parliament yesterday is a green light for people smugglers.

“It’s on Bill Shorten’s shoulders, the first boat that arrives, and the ones that arrive thereafter.”

Meanwhile, Mr Dutton praised Derryn Hinch for requesting a security briefing before voting on the legislation in the Senate.

“It seems to me that Derryn Hinch is showing the leadership Bill Shorten lacks.”

8:45am

SHOCK TWIST: HINCH PUTS LEGISLATION IN DOUBT

The medical transfer legislation that passed the House yesterday, embarrassing the government in the process, still faces one more hurdle.

It needs to be approved by the Senate.

Labor joined with the crossbenchers, minus Bob Katter, to hand Scott Morrison a historic defeat on the floor of the House by a single vote, 75-74. The numbers in the Senate are just as tight.

For the bill to pass, a coalition of 39 senators need to vote in its in favour. There are 26 Labor senators and nine Greens, meaning they need the support of four crossbenchers — Tim Storer, Rex Patrick, Stirling Griff and Derryn Hinch.

One of those votes is now in doubt.

Mr Hinch voted with the group in December, but this morning indicated he was uncertain whether he would support them this time.

Mr Hinch has asked for a security briefing to inform his decision — a request the government has gladly granted.

“I’ve made it clear I still believe in offshore processing,” Mr Hinch told reporters.

“I voted for the bill in December mainly to get the kids off Nauru.”

He said most of the children had since been removed from the island.

“You’ve still got the issue on the one side of the humanitarian idea of the doctors panel, which is a good one, but you’ve also got others coming off, where the government says people will be coming off who shouldn’t be coming off,” he said of the bill.

“You’ve got the Solicitor-General saying what we voted on in December might be unconstitutional.

“I don’t want this to end up in the High Court.”

The fate of the legislation hinges on Mr Hinch’s decision.

8:30am

HANSON’S EXPLOSIVE CLAIM

While everyone else was focused on the shenanigans in the House last night, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson revealed an explosive allegation of sexual harassment against one of her colleagues in the Senate.

Speaking under parliamentary privilege, Ms Hanson accused the unnamed senator of repeatedly mistreating his staff.

“I rise tonight to share my disappointment at another case of serious sexual harassment by a current senator that is currently under investigation — a married senator,” Ms Hanson said.

“This same senator has also forced the Australian taxpayer to pay out other previous unfair dismissal cases during his term. Each of those people has been gagged from speaking publicly about their experience, and I respect the decision they have made to accept those terms and remain silent.

“But what is disappointing is that this parliament has allowed the horrible treatment of staff to continue without this senator being forced to go through some form of training to prevent the poor treatment of his employees. I’m not talking about one or two staff. I’m talking about more than six in this term of parliament.

“And I blame this parliament for allowing the gag orders to leave this vulnerable woman exposed to the treatment she’s gone through. This gutless wonder we call senator should tonight hang his head in shame.

“I expect the behaviour of all elected members to be honourable. What senators in this place need to understand is that our staff are no different to us. Just because you wear the red pin doesn’t give you permission to place your unwanted hands or lips on your staff.”

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