Senate extends hours for visa talks

THE Abbott government's plans to reintroduce controversial temporary protection visas appeared likely to pass the Senate after hours were extended on Thursday to deal with the bill.

After the government's higher education reforms were defeated in the Senate earlier in the week, it extended Senate sittings hours on the final day to deal with the asylum seeker bill.

The bills were panned by a raft of asylum seeker advocates, and not supported by Labor or The Greens, but Immigration Minister Scott Morrison looked likely to have the numbers late on Thursday.

Under the changes, the government aims to "clear the backlog" of 31,000 asylum seekers in the detention system, by reintroducing TPVs and new visas for refugees to work for five years in regional areas.

But the changes also removed review rights for many refugees and redefine the term "refugee", which conflicts with the United Nation's definition and narrows the number of people who can claim refugee status.

Labor Senator Kim Carr said the government was using children as "bargaining chips" in its bid to get Senate support.

The visas will also only offer long-term residency status to a narrow selection of asylum seekers who can meet the hurdles involved, and do not include "family reunion" measures.

Mr Morrison made several concessions to secure the support of senators Nick Xenophon, Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm and Palmer United Party senators.

PUP leader Clive Palmer said Senator Ricky Muir would back the changes, but at the time of writing Sen Muir had not confirmed how he would vote.


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