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Malaysia debate overshadows carbon success -

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The Federal Government's elation over the passing of its carbon tax legislation has been dampened
by a lack of support to resurrect the Malaysia people swap deal.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Just 20 hours after Labor was basking in the victory of getting its carbon
tax through the Parliament, it's now tasting defeat with its so-called Malaysia Solution for asylum
seekers in tatters. The Government now expects an increase in boat arrivals. It's still committed
to mandatory detention, but when detention centres fill up, asylum seekers will be housed in the
community. The Prime Minister's blaming Tony Abbott for this enforced policy back-flip, but as
political editor Chris Uhlmann reports, some of her own team are delighted by the shift because
they're deeply critical of the way she's handled asylum policy.

CHRIS UHLMANN, REPORTER: Politics is about leadership. And some Julia Gillard's strength was on
display this week with the carbon tax passing in the Lower House. But the very next day raised
questions about the Prime Minister's judgment.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: They want to deny this country the ability to process asylum seekers
offshore.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Managing expectations is high on the list of the arts of politics, and today there
was a compelling reason to believe there would be a debate on a controversial bill to allow the
offshore processing of asylum seekers.

JULIA GILLARD: We will bring this legislation to the Parliament. Tony Abbott and every member of
the Liberal Party and National Party should walk into the Parliament and have their vote recorded
so that the pages of history can show that when they were called on to choose between this nation's
interests in protecting our borders and their narrow political interest, they chose their narrow
political interest. They should record their votes, name by name, person by person.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT: It is listed for further debate on
Thursday. That is our intention.

CHRIS UHLMANN: There were five good reasons why bringing this bill to the house was a bad idea.
First, it never for a moment bothered anyone in the Coalition that the pages of history would
record them as having opposed this bill.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: I don't believe it's the Opposition's duty to provide a blank
cheque to a bad government.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Second, it really does bother a good chunk of Labor's Caucus that their names would
be in history's page alongside a policy they hate.

DOUG CAMERON, ALP BACKBENCHER: I don't believe you should be cruel to people who are fleeing war,
who are fleeing terrorism, who fleeing violence.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Third, the bill was always doomed to be defeated in the Senate.

BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: The Prime Minister is wrong. She is seriously wrong.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Fourth, getting it through the Lower House hung on the vote of a Western Australian
National MP who sits on the crossbench.

TONY CROOK, WA NATIONALS: I will support Opposition amendments today.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Finally, if the bill failed to win the support of the Lower House, it would be the
first time in 80 years it happened - and in 1929 the Bruce Government resigned. There would be no
need for the Gillard Government to follow suit, but the Coalition was always going to play a lost
vote as a de facto no-confidence motion.

TONY ABBOTT: She scared of putting the legislation to the parliament because she is scared that
this parliament will no longer support her.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Labor's misjudgements on border protection have a rich history, but its recent past
is simply bewildering. After the High Court junked its plan to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia,
the Government decided to legislate its way around the problem. But the Greens are implacably
opposed to offshore processing, so the success of that move hung on getting the Coalition to back
the Government. Now, in case you've been asleep for much of the last two years, here's the one
thing the Government really want you to know about Tony Abbott.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Those opposite, of course, said no, no, no, no and no.

CHRIS UHLMANN: So, at a critical juncture on a crucial weakness, Julia Gillard put her hopes in the
Opposition Leader breaking what she would have us believe is the habit of a lifetime.

Sure, but what if he says no?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, I'm going to keep putting that position to the Leader of the Opposition.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But it looks likely he will say no, and you must have a fallback position.

JULIA GILLARD: First things first. It is matter for the Leader of the Opposition and his judgment.

CHRIS UHLMANN: If your amendments fail, will you support the Government's?

TONY ABBOTT: No, we won't.

CHRIS UHLMANN: This morning the Government lost its last hope when Tony Crook said he would not
support the Government's amendment to the migration law.

TONY CROOK: I'm not killing anything off. It's a position for the Government and the Opposition to
sort out. They both support offshore processing. It there is a very, very fine line between these
two positions, but to suggest that I'm the one killing off offshore processing is blatantly wrong.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The bill was listed to be debated today, and finally it seems to have dawned on the
Government that losing this vote would be bad, so it started to manipulate the program to ensure
the bill didn't get debated.

DEPUTY SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Leader of Government, business in the House.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks, Mr Deputy Speaker. I move that main committee orders of the day number
six, relating to a national standard for fertilising products...

CHRIS UHLMANN: Fertiliser comes in many forms. The Government explained the reason for the change
of plans was that the Opposition had too many speakers.

JULIA GILLARD: The Opposition has around 30 speakers listed for the debate. I presume he would be
interested in listening to their contributions.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Behind the scenes, Labor was pedalling fast. It called an emergency Caucus meeting
and told members that it was essentially moving to onshore processing.

JULIA GILLARD: If we do see more boats, then we may have to confront the circumstance - indeed it's
likely we will have to confront the circumstance - of how we manage the mandatory detention network
under increasing pressure.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And so, kicking and screaming and losing an enormous amount of political capital on
the way, the Government has arrived at a policy that many of its own members have wanted for four
years.