A proposal to lower the threshold for the government to cancel a person's visa if they've committed a serious offence has been defeated in the Senate.
The government's Strengthening Character Test bill, which would allow for a person's visa to be cancelled if they had been found guilty of a crime punishable by two years in prison, was voted down with the help of Labor, the Greens and independent Rex Patrick.
While the vote was 25 to 25, the tied result meant the bill was unable to proceed to the next stage.
The government said the legislation, which was first introduced in the lower house in 2019, would aim to keep out those who had been convicted of a serious crime such as domestic violence or sex offences.
The legislation would have led to a visa being cancelled or refused for someone who had committed offences punishable for two years, no matter how long the actual sentence imposed was.
The opposition had raised concerns that those who had carried out lower-level offences would be able to be deported, and that victims of domestic violence would not be adequately protected.
Labor senator Kristina Keneally accused Immigration Minister Alex Hawke of reneging on a deal made at noon on Tuesday to discuss the amendments and bring it to a vote next month.
"Before 5pm, the minister's office called my office and pulled the deal," she said.
"A recently promoted cabinet minister makes a deal to work with the opposition to make real changes ...and then the minister yanks it a few hours later.
"Clearly the prime minister has yanked on minister Hawke's chain."
A spokesman for the prime minister's office hit back at Senator Keneally's claims.
"Labor have known for two years that we intend to legislate this election commitment, and now at five minutes to midnight (Senator Keneally) is trying to cover up the fact that she hadn't done her homework," the spokesman said.
"Labor want to vote down protection that would keep stalkers, domestic violence abusers and sexual assault offenders from having their visa cancelled or refused."
Mr Hawke had earlier told ABC Radio on Wednesday that there was "universal support" for the measures and that it would only take in serious offences.
Australian Associated Press