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Australia’s lower house votes for asylum seekers’ access to medical care, in defeat for govt

Australia’s government suffered an embarrassing defeat in parliament on Tuesday, as the lower house voted for a measure allowing asylum seekers to access medical care. The voting is seen as the first such loss by a government in 68 years, Reuters said. Independent lawmakers and the opposition Labor party voted together to pass the bill by 75 votes to 74, dealing a blow to the ruling conservative coalition, which is trailing heavily in polls ahead of an election due in May. “Great to see the Australian parliament finally vote for humanity,” Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian held in an Australian-run camp in Papua New Guinea (PNG) wrote on Twitter. “Many people are happy now because they will finally receive medical treatment.” The upper house must approve the bill before it becomes law, so the defeat does not trigger an immediate election.