The Greens have condemned the Albanese government's decision to vote against legislation to evacuate the 160 refugees still detained offshore in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
The legislation, introduced by Greens senator Nick McKim last month, was defeated 24 votes to 12 on Wednesday after Labor joined the Liberal Party and Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party in voting against the bill.
Independent senators Lidia Thorpe and David Pocock voted in favour of the bill along with the Greens.
Most senators were not in the chamber at the time.
"Today's vote is a shameful abdication of moral responsibility by the Labor Party," McKim said.
"Labor's decision to oppose this bill, which is consistent with their own policy, shows that they are more interested in playing politics than in saving lives.
"They have let down the refugees they exiled a decade ago and shown themselves to be morally bankrupt."
The bill proposed to offer urgent evacuation to the asylum seekers held offshore in PNG and Nauru. Those who accepted would have been placed in community detention in Australia while they waited to be resettled in a third country.
McKim said the bill was designed "in the spirit of" the Medevac bill that Labor supported in 2019 while in Opposition.
On Tuesday, the Labor-dominated Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee recommended the bill be opposed.
The committee received more than 210 submissions concerning the bill before handing down their recommendation.
Only one submission, from the Department of Home Affairs, opposed the bill.
The committee conceded that many refugees have been in offshore detention "far longer than can reasonably be expected" and that this has caused significant physical and mental health costs "that cannot be allowed to continue".
No reason for their recommendation to oppose the bill was offered by the committee.
The government was instead urged to "consider all available options to effect the removal of asylum seekers and refugees currently in offshore detention".
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Labor senator Nita Green, reaffirmed the government's commitment to offshore detention, stating it is a "tough measure" that has "broken a model that exploits vulnerable people".
"At the election, the Prime Minister was very clear: we can be tough on borders without being weak on humanity. Regional processing does both of these things," she said.
"I have to be clear that the Albanese government is committed to Operation Sovereign Borders and regional processing, including our ongoing partnership with Nauru."
Despite the government's ongoing commitment to offshore processing, in February, Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones, announced the government's objective to ensure all refugees are removed from PNG and Nauru by the end of the year.
Jana Favero, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said she was disappointed but not surprised that the bill did not pass.
"Make no mistake the Labor and Liberal parties after 10 years are still playing politics with the lives of refugees," she said.
"They have gotten so lost in the politics of fear and division that they just voted against medical care and human rights."
Several refugees who are currently being held offshore submitted their pleas to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, urging them to support the bill.
"To acknowledge the pain inflicted on refugees by both Labor and Liberal governments, as well as the strength and courage of refugees in the face of such injustice, would also be to acknowledge they are human," Favero said.
"But the current system can only continue if refugees are dehumanised and invisible."
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