It is the first time in over seven decades that the incumbent government lost the vote on its own legislation.
The ruling Liberal National coalition was firmly opposed to the legislation, which it said would endanger national security, but it passed Australia's lower house by a vote of 75 to 74.
"I think most Australians now see fortunately before the election, unlike the case with (former ALP PM Kevin) Rudd, a Labor Party unravelling a successful border protection policy".
The contest will play out differently in different seats and demographics across the country, but Morrison has made it clear that any new boat arrival "is on Bill Shorten and Labor's head".
Mr Porter said a refugee on Manus Island was facing sex abuse charges and someone on Nauru had been charged with indecently assaulting a child.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Wednesday announced the reopening of a controversial offshore migrant detention centre on Christmas Island, doubling down on hardline policies after a historic legislative defeat.
"My job now is to ensure that the boats don't come", he told reporters at Parliament House on Wednesday.
The Christmas Island immigration detention camp, south of Jakarta, Indonesia, was a favorite target of people smugglers who brought asylum seekers from Asia, Africa and the Middle East in rickety boats from Indonesian ports before the trade virtually stopped in recent years.
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"If we're re-elected it won't apply to anybody because I will reverse it", he said. "The fact of the matter is this bill is about providing treatment to sick people", Shorten told Parliament.
The changes included a provision that only the 1,000 asylum seekers now held on Nauru and Papua New Guinea and not any future arrivals would be considered for medical evacuation under the new regime.
The government says the Christmas Island re-start will cost about $1.4 billion over four years.
Australia's conservative minority government suffered a damaging political defeat on Tuesday (Feb 12), becoming the first administration in almost a century to lose a vote on major legislation and sparking calls for a snap election.
The opposition Labor party responded to Morrison's announcement calling it "scare tactics" and accused the prime minister of manufacturing a fear of migrants to win votes.
Major changes to Australia's health system would be led by a new, independent expert commission under a federal Labor government, making reforms harder to unpick.
Hundreds of asylum seekers who have been allowed into Australia for hospital treatment have received court injunctions that prevent their return to the islands. People have died as a result.