News World Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, Labor oppose Coalition on scrapped China extradition treaty
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Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, Labor oppose Coalition on scrapped China extradition treaty

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More tension between Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott has come to the fore. Photo: Getty
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The Federal Government has abruptly pulled the contentious Australia-China extradition treaty in the face of a backbench rebellion and likely defeat in the Senate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Opposition Leader Bill Shorten this morning and told him the Government would pull the treaty for now.

The agreement has stoked widespread unease in Parliament, with MPs on both sides of politics arguing Australia should not send people to China because the country’s judicial system is plagued with human rights abuses.

The Senate was also almost certain to scuttle the treaty, after Labor decided it would join the Senate crossbench and back a motion from newly-independent Senator Cory Bernardi to stop it being ratified.

Mr Turnbull’s sudden move to pull the bill came only an hour after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop launched a staunch defence of the treaty.

“This is about our national interest, this is about serving our interests in not being a haven for criminals around the world who would seek to escape justice by being in Australia,” Ms Bishop said.
“But we have safeguards in place for every extradition treaty that ensure that people are not extradited if they face the death penalty in the country seeking to extradite them.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also furiously denounced Labor’s decision to vote with the crossbench and block the Australia-China extradition treaty, calling it “crazy”.

“I can’t believe that, to be honest, the Labor Party is going to participate in this,” Mr Joyce said.

“They know that this is crazy. Surely there’s a trade minister, or an attorney-general or whatever who understands the ramifications — that if the Labor Party participates in this, they show that they’ve really evolved not into an alternate party but into some sort of sensational band of rubbish.”

Mr Joyce said there were significant safeguards in the treaty, and ministers would be able to stop an extradition if there were concerns about an individual’s welfare when they arrive in China.

The Government has been furiously lobbying the crossbench over the treaty, but it had been unable to shift the numbers.

Senator Bernardi stood by his motion this morning.

“[China] has a 99 per cent conviction rate, about 1.3 million people are found guilty, and 1,000 are found not guilty. That doesn’t strike me as an open and transparent legal system,” Senator Bernardi said.

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