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Labor rejects lifetime visa ban for refugees -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The Coalition and Labor have been on a unity ticket on immigration policy for the past three years but that bipartisanship ended today, triggering a fiery Question Time.

The Opposition's unanimously rejected the Government's latest immigration bill, aimed at banning people who have tried to arrive by boat from ever even visiting Australia.

The fate of the bill now rests with the Senate crossbench, along with some other contentious legislation.

Here's political correspondent, Sabra Lane.

KEVIN RUDD, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: If you come by boat, you'll never permanently live in Australia.

TONY ABBOTT, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: If you arrive illegally by boat in Australia, you will never permanently settle in Australia.

BILL SHORTEN, OPPOSITION LEADER: The combination of regional resettlement with offshore processing and also the turn back policy is defeating people smugglers.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: The door to Australia is closed to those who seek to come here by boat. Those passengers will never settle in this country.

SABRA LANE, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been a long time since these images appeared on an almost nightly basis on the news across the nation.

The arrivals eventually stopped under the Coalition after Kevin Rudd performed an election eve u-turn in 2013 to re-embrace offshore processing.

It brought the major parties into lock-step on immigration policy - today that ended.

BILL SHORTEN: The Labor Caucus has met this morning and resolved to oppose the Government's legislation.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition has drawn a line at the Government's bill to introduce a controversial lifetime visa ban on asylum seekers from ever visiting Australia, even if they become citizens of another nation.

BILL SHORTEN: We are on a unity ticket with the Government to stop the people smugglers but we are not on a unity ticket to stop the tourists.

SABRA LANE: The bill was introduced after midday and will be backdated to July 2013 when Kevin Rudd declared offshore processing would resume.

The ban will apply to adults who tried to enter Australia by boat, who've refused to return home from Manus Island or Nauru. It won't apply to children.

They won't be allowed access even with a tourist or spouse visa.

BILL SHORTEN: We recognise this legislation has been a desperate gesture by a floundering government, simply aping the policies of One Nation without any proper analysis or evidence.

SABRA LANE: There will be ministerial powers to grant exemptions in special cases but that hasn't been enough to get the Opposition on side.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: During the election, the Leader of the Opposition said he was on a unity ticket with us in terms of border protection policies.

We call on him to maintain that.

PETER DUTTON, IMMIGRATION MINISTER: People smugglers in Indonesia, in Sri Lanka, in Vietnam and around the world would be rubbing their hands together at the moment because they know that they have hit the jackpot with Bill Shorten.

They know, Mr Speaker, they know they have now found a weaker leader, a weaker leader than Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard combined.

SABRA LANE: Privately, Government advisors say the bill's an essential precursor to a possible resettlement deal with a third country.

The Immigration Minister telling Parliament he'll reveal all soon.

PETER DUTTON: Our policy is not only been to stop drownings at sea and get kids out of detention, but it is to get people off Manus and Nauru, starting with the families and we will tell you shortly the details but we need your support.

SABRA LANE: But Labor thinks its bluff.

BILL SHORTEN: I've specifically asked the Prime Minister are there discussions about third party nations? How is that process going? He's refused point blank to tell me.

So I have no idea how their discussions are going. Obviously anything which can be done to facilitate the people on Manus and Nauru being sent to third party nations, we're up for.

SABRA LANE: Some Labor MPs believe the bill's a clumsy attempt to wedge the party and is aimed at distracting from the Government's woes in getting contentious legislation through Parliament.

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW AGRICULTURE MINISTER: John Howard was very good at the wedge. I was on the other end of it on many occasions.

Malcolm Turnbull can't even get a wedge right. I think partly because he doesn't believe in what he's doing and when you don't believe in what you're doing, it's pretty hard to maintain the momentum.

SABRA LANE: Remember when Labor used to complain Tony Abbott was the Dr Know of politics? It's taken a leaf from his political playbook saying no today to the immigration bill and no to the recently announced compromise on the backpacker tax.

The Coalition originally proposed a 32.5 per cent per cent tax on backpackers but after a furious backlash from farmers, it reduced it to 19 per cent.

Labor says the rate's still too high and it wants 10.5 per cent.

Is Labor enjoying to some degree sitting back and just watching the Government try and negotiate complex, controversial, contentious legislation through the Senate, this being an example?

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Well, we don't have any sympathy for Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce or any member of that Government.

Every problem they now face is a problem entirely of their own making.

Of course, the double-dissolution based on the ABCC was Malcolm Turnbull's idea. He thought that would secure for him the passage of that legislation and a better Senate.

This is a Senate entirely of Malcolm Turnbull's making.

BARNABY JOYCE, AGRICULTURE MINISTER: They revel in the problems, they revel in the intrigue, they revel in creating chaos.

They just love throwing it at the fan because they're not really interested in governing.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Barnaby Joyce is a bully. He's holding a gun to the heads of politicians, farm peak groups and of course, farmers, growers and producers.

He's saying even though this was all my idea, if you don't pass 19 per cent now, you'll get 32.5 per cent.

Well, we won't give in to his bullying.

SABRA LANE: The new tax rate is due to start in January and with 2.5 sitting weeks remaining for the year, the task of getting the package through Parliament won't be that easy.

While the Government claims Labor's been dragged to the left on immigration, the Opposition says Mr Turnbull's being hauled to the far right, pointing to the decision today to order a parliamentary review into sections 18C and D of the Racial Discrimination Act, as well as the way the Human Rights Commission handles complaints.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: That's what parliaments should do. It should listen to the people. It should enable them make their submissions and that's exactly what's happening.

We won't be lectured on human rights. We won't be lectured on human rights by a party that was so neglectful, so careless of the human rights of those who lost their lives at sea.

LEIGH SALES: Sabra Lane there.