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Parliament repeals refugee evacuation laws

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Jacqui Lambie Network Senator Jacqui Lambie during debate on the Medevac Bill in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, December 4, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Laws making it easier for refugees in offshore detention to be brought to Australia for medical treatment have been scrapped.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who delivered the government victory, cried as she told parliament she would support the medevac repeal bill on Wednesday.

Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann denied striking a secret deal with the crucial crossbencher.

But a tearful Senator Lambie said she couldn't reveal what she proposed to the coalition.

"When I say I can't discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100 per cent honest to you," Senator Lambie told parliament.

"My hand is on my heart and I can stand here and say that I would be putting at risk Australia's national security and national interest if I said anything else about this."

The firebrand Tasmanian said the government had worked hard to advance a proposal but didn't say what it was.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said there were conflicting accounts.

"We had minister Cormann say that there was no deal. Now we've just heard Senator Lambie say there is a deal," he said.

"Who's lying? Who's lying, minister Cormann? Are you lying? Or is Senator Lambie lying?"

Senator Cormann has said it was in the national interest for politicians to leave Canberra after the final sitting week of the year with a stronger border protection regime in place.

He said repealing the laws was a core promise the coalition took to the election earlier in the year.

"Today the Senate will have an opportunity to side with the government in support of stronger national security and against weaker national security arrangements," Senator Cormann said.

It's understood the government may have agreed to send refugees from offshore processing to New Zealand after a similar arrangement with the US ended.

The New Zealand immigration minister's office told AAP there was no formal request from Australia, but the offer remained on the table.

Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said the government had clinched a deal with Senator Lambie.

"The parliament and the Australian people have a right to know what this secret deal is," she said.

"There's been a deal between the Morrison government and Senator Lambie to drive a stake through the heart of medevac."

Earlier in the week, Senator Cormann and Senator Lambie both ruled out horse trading on the medevac repeal bill.

© AAP 2019