Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is optimistic Senate crossbenchers will support reintroducing temporary protection visas for refugees.
The visas were a key plank of the Abbott government’s asylum seeker boat crackdown but the upper house blocked their reinstatement last year.
The government has been negotiating with crossbenchers holding the balance of power following the Senate changeover in July.
Mr Morrison had talks with Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer and other crossbenchers a fortnight ago.
“I’m encouraged by their response,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
Mr Palmer wants children to be released from detention centres and greater safeguards for families.
In mid-August the government announced it would release 150 children, aged under 10, and their families, who had arrived by boat before July 19, from mainland detention centres.
But hundreds more will remain locked up on Nauru and Christmas Island.
“Labor and the Greens largely dealt themselves out of wanting to get children out of detention, by insisting on their political opposition to temporary protection visas,” Mr Morrison said.
The inability to hand out temporary visas to people who had arrived by boat after July 19 had left many stranded.
“The only thing the Senate is providing me at the moment … is permanent visas in Australia and that’s just not going to happen,” the immigration minister said.
Mr Morrison said 24,000 asylum seekers would have been processed already if the visas were available.
Under the Howard government the temporary visas gave refugees protection for up to three years but banned them from applying for permanent protection.
Last week, a group of Christmas Island asylum seekers pleaded to be released on the temporary visas rather than languish in detention with deteriorating mental health.