Canberra: Australia’s conservative minority government suffered a damaging political defeat Tuesday, becoming the first administration in nearly a century to lose a vote on major legislation and sparking calls for a snap election.
Despite a bruising and highly personal lobbying effort, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was defeated by MPs who insisted refugees held in offshore facilities have the right to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment.
It is the first time in decades that an Australian government has lost a vote on a substantive piece of legislation, sparking applause and cheers from observers in the parliamentary viewing gallery in Canberra.
Morrison lost his parliamentary majority last year and has been relying on crossbenchers to keep control of the lower House of Representatives. But the 75-74 vote -- which came on the first sitting day of parliament this year -- in favour of the refugee bill opposed by the government is a blow to the already embattled prime minister and raised questions about whether he can remain in office.
When the sitting government last lost a vote on substantive legislation in 1929, then prime minister Stanley Bruce immediately called an election, and lost it.
The government of prime minister Arthur Fadden lost a symbolic budget vote in 1941 and immediately resigned....