11 Aug 2006

New Australian asylum law passed by lower house

8:08 am on 11 August 2006

Australia's lower house of parliament has passed a controversial bill to process all future asylum seekers arriving by boat off-shore.

Three government MPs joined the opposition to vote against the proposal, but it still passed by 78 to 62 and now goes to the Senate.

Under current law, only people who arrive on outlying islands or are intercepted at sea have their claims for asylum processed off-shore.

The new legislation means all arrivals by boat will be sent off-shore, mainly to Nauru.

Critics accuse the Prime Minister, John Howard, of using the bill to heal rifts with Indonesia, which was angered by a recent decision to accept 40 asylum seekers from Indonesia's Papua region.