Urgent government legislation reinstating offshore processing centres for asylum seekers has cleared parliament's lower house, but not before it was criticised by some MPs.
Only two MPs, independent Andrew Wilkie and Adam Bandt from the Australian Greens, voted against the bill.
Labour and coalition MPs sat side by side to support measures that will allow the government to reinstate processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said it was important the bill passed the lower house on Wednesday and that it proceed expeditiously through the Senate.
"The Australian people expect no less and the people smugglers fear nothing more," he told parliament before the vote.
But Labour MP Melissa Parke earlier warned keeping asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island for protracted periods could cause severe mental health problems.
Ms Parke said she would not be doing her duty on behalf of her constituents and fellow Labour party members, if she didn't "convey a deep sense of discomfort they and I feel regarding specific aspects of the path we are embarking on today in parliament".
"Cruel to be kind is a cliché that I'm not sure is ever actually justified," she told parliament.
"There are strong concerns about the devastating consequences, including severe mental health issues of detention of asylum seekers for indeterminate periods on Nauru and Manus Island."
The measures being debated were "at the lower end of what we are capable of as a nation".
Ms Parke said Australia strived for excellence in so many areas.
"Here, we have not excelled."
The former international lawyer reminded parliament of Australia's international legal obligations to assess the claims of people who arrive seeking asylum, regardless of the manner of their arrival.
Liberal MP Judi Moylan said the measures being debated would hand "unfettered power" to the immigration minister.
They would allow the transfer of asylum seekers to third countries without consideration of the adequacy of human rights laws.
"This bill strips out the ordinary protections of law which have previously been afforded to people found to be refugees," she said.
The measures also would mean that people taking the risky boat journey would wait the same amount of time as if they were waiting in Malaysia or Indonesia.
"In a practical sense, this may be an entire lifetime," she said.
She also expressed "grave reservations" about how the bill may impact on unaccompanied minors.
The measures create a disallowable instrument, meaning either house of parliament could vote against a particular place being used for offshore processing.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that created a very significant responsibility.
"It is now this parliament that is the arbiter of protections for people who are processed offshore," he said.
Earlier, the house rejected an opposition amendment that called on the government to restore temporary protection visas and issue defence with instructions to turn back asylum seeker boats where it was safe to do so.
MPs also rejected a Greens amendment that limits the bill's measures to 12 months.
The Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011 now goes to the Senate for consideration.