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How the first day of the political year threatened to end the Morrison government

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In no more than the turn of a dry page of the Australian constitution, the first day of the political year suddenly flared into the potential collapse of the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The day’s passion had been spent upon what might be the fate of a bill designed to grant doctors greater authority to judge when an asylum seeker detained on a distant island was sick enough to require evacuation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison leaves the House of Representatives after losing a vote.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

PM Morrison had already made more than clear that he would not countenance such a thing, which he insisted would flag to people smugglers that Australia’s borders were once more open for business.

Morrison had staked his leadership on it, and was ramping up a campaign to pin Opposition Leader Bill Shorten with the title of a jelly-back capitulating to the left and people smugglers, thus placing Australia’s national security at risk.

But shortly after 5pm, the Speaker, Tony Smith,........

© Brisbane Times