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TPVs resurrected -

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STEVE CANNANE, PRESENTER: The Government and Clive Palmer have struck another deal, this time to revive temporary protection visas and make a host of other changes to asylum seeker laws.

Legislation has already been introduced into the Lower House amid condemnation from human rights advocates.

The Senate, meanwhile, was in uproar for very different reasons.

Political correspondent Tom Iggulden reports from Canberra.

TOM IGGULDEN, REPORTER: Something got into senators this afternoon ...

DOUG CAMERON, LABOR SENATOR: (Reading from document) "Bohemianism, free love, frugality, involuntary poverty!

TOM IGGULDEN: ... after revelations the Attorney-General's joined the Savage Club, an exclusive Melbourne establishment.

STEPHEN CONROY, OPP. DEFENCE SPOKESMAN: Membership is offered to gentlemen only, based upon the criteria of good fellowship and shared interests. Will the minister - will the minister sing the club song and demonstrate the club initiation ceremony to the chamber?

GEORGE BRANDIS, ATTORNEY-GENERAL: After 20 years in this place, Senator Conroy, I think it's about time you grew up.

TOM IGGULDEN: But there was no let-up from Labor.

DOUG CAMERON: Bizarre rituals that require members when they are greeting a new member or when a new member is being initiated, to make guttural noises and beat their chest, beat their chest.

TOM IGGULDEN: The interloper was a Liberal senator ...

BILL HEFFERNAN, LIBERAL SENATOR: ... which I thought he was choking on his haggis.

TOM IGGULDEN: ... who'd crossed the chamber to run interference on Senator Cameron.

BILL HEFFERNAN: So I sincerely apologise to Doug if I, in trying to clear his chest, offended him.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Senate shenanigans underlined one immutable law of modern politics:

CHRISTOPHER PYNE, EDUCATION MINISTER: My comments get on the tele; yours don't.

TOM IGGULDEN: Serious policy was being talked about in the House, with the return of an old Coalition favourite.

SCOTT MORRISON, IMMIGRATION MINISTER: TPVs will provide refugees with stability and a chance to get on with their lives while at the same time (inaudible) the people smugglers do not have a permanent protection visa product to sell.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Howard Government first brought temporary protection visas in 15 years ago.

PHILIP RUDDOCK, FMR IMMIGRATION MINISTER (1999): Permanent residency has become a major selling point amongst those who have been engaged in the smuggling activity.

TOM IGGULDEN: Labor abolished them. A deal between Clive Palmer and the Immigration Minister will bring them back.

CLIVE PALMER, LEADER, PALMER UNITED PARTY: He did look at things objectively. He did change his view on a number of things.

TOM IGGULDEN: There's to be a new visa for refugees offering a chance to get out of detention centres into a job in skills-needy regional centres, and ultimately, citizenship.

CLIVE PALMER: We've got all the people off Christmas Island, all of them going to regions that can find a future for themselves if they want to.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Immigration Minister's less bullish about how many of new safe haven visas might be granted ...

JOURNALIST: It's possible then it could be a very small number?

SCOTT MORRISON: It's very possible.

TOM IGGULDEN: ... and downright pessimistic about how many might lead to permanent residency.

SCOTT MORRISON: This is a very high bar to clear. Good luck to them if they choose to do that and if they achieve it.

TOM IGGULDEN: But Labor's still calling it a broken commitment not to allow refugees to be resettled in Australia.

RICHARD MARLES, SHADOW IMMIGRATION SPOKESMAN: It would appear that a pathway to citizenship is being provided. Now if that is the case, of itself, it is a good thing. But this represents a humiliating back down on the part of this minister at the behest of Clive Palmer.

TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Morrison's denying that, saying his "no resettlements" pledge came with an important qualifier.

SCOTT MORRISON: I was referring to resettlement under protection visas.

TOM IGGULDEN: The new visa arrangements don't cover asylum seekers in offshore detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island. A video message to detainees posted this afternoon on the internet ...

SCOTT MORRISON (Government video): My name is Scott Morrison and I am the Australian Minister for Immigration.

TOM IGGULDEN: ... is designed to stamp out any hope they'll have of making it to Australia.

SCOTT MORRISON (Government video): Our policies will not change and I urge you to make decisions in that context.

TOM IGGULDEN: It's the return of the TPV that'll grabbed headlines - not surprisingly, given its tortured political past, but there are plenty of other potentially controversial changes in the legislation, including to the citizenship status of children born in detention and the laws governing on-water operations.

DANIEL WEBB, HUMAN RIGHTS LAW CENTRE: The Maritime Powers Act is the law that the Government relies on when intercepting boats and turning back boats. Now these reforms seek to amend that act to say that nothing the Government does under that law can be challenged just because it happens to breach international law.

TOM IGGULDEN: Refugee advocates are also concerned about a change that would see the children of asylum seekers deemed to be illegal arrivals, even if they were born here.

DANIEL WEBB: Classifying newborns, born in Australia, as unauthorised maritime arrivals and then shipping them off to Nauru is, one, tremendously cruel, and two, just plainly absurd.

TOM IGGULDEN: Labor says it's studying the legislation and reserving judgement until it's got a better understanding of it.

Tom Iggulden, Lateline.