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Australia PM withdraws bill restricting asylum seekers arriving by boat

[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official website] on Monday abandoned the proposed Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill [PDF text] that would have required asylum seekers arriving by boat to be processed at offshore camps after it became apparent that the Senate would not approve the bill [JURIST report]. Senator Judith Troeth, a member of the governing Liberal Party [party website], voiced opposition to the bill and told Howard that she would vote against it. Howard's Liberal Party maintains only a one vote majority in the Senate, and Howard chose to withdraw the bill [press conference transcript] rather than face defeat.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved the bill [JURIST report] by a measure of 78-62, but faced strong opposition from four MPs in the governing party. Critics of the bill have condemned Howard for catering to Indonesia to resolve a diplomatic dispute between the two countries that arose after Australia gave visas to more than 40 Indonesian asylum seekers [BBC report] from Indonesia's Papua province earlier this year. Shortly after Howard withdrew the bill, eight new asylum seekers arrived on Australian soil. The Indonesian government also warned that a flood of refugees would likely head towards Australia soon [Australian report]. AAP has more.

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