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.
"This bill changes the response to medical emergencies in offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru", Mr Glendenning said.
"I'm not sure if it's going to have any great effect (on votes) but I do think it's a precursor to what the government's going to try and do in the election campaign". "Every arrival is on Bill Shorten [Leader of the Labor Party] 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.
The bill was first mooted by independent MP Kerryn Phelps a year ago after she won the Liberal Party stronghold of Wentworth when former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in a party coup.
Scott Morrison is ramping up border security patrols and reopening Christmas Island after Federal Parliament passed new laws fast-tracking medical evacuations for asylum seekers.
"My job now is to do everything in my power and the power of the government to ensure what the Parliament has done to weaken our border does not result in boats coming to Australia".
Late previous year, public pressure over severe health issues facing children living on the islands prompted officials to allow all of them to be relocated to Australia.
"Where we will always stand, and the Australian people can always trust us to do, is to have the mettle to ensure the integrity of our border protection framework".
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Labor leader Bill Shorten says his party is tough but fair on border control after it backed the bill.
The Labor proposal made it easier for refugees to get approved for medical transfer by making it more challenging for the Home Affairs Minister to reject their applications.
Mr Shorten dismissed that claim and argued the bill simply allowed for better medical care for asylum seekers who needed help in Australia.
The government says the Christmas Island re-start will cost about $1.4 billion over four years.
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.
"Under my government Australia will be stronger".
This change is meant to protect refugees who need medical help but might have been convicted of minor offences or perhaps crimes of freedom of expression in their home countries.
"I know how much the people who are sick on Manus Island and Nauru are suffering and Parliament is saying enough is enough,"Dr Phelps said after the vote".