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‘Risk of further deaths’ following Medevac repeal


Matt Woodley


4/12/2019 1:38:28 PM

Jacqui Lambie’s vote allowed the Government to narrowly pass its legislation following what have been called ‘secret’ negotiations.

Jacqui Lambie
Senator Jacqui Lambie said she was voting in favour of the new legislation because she was ‘satisfied’ that conditions had changed since the original Medevac laws had come into effect. (Image: AAP)

In announcing her support for the Bill, a tearful Senator Jacqui Lambie said she was voting in favour of the new legislation because she was ‘satisfied’ that conditions had changed since the original Medevac laws had come into effect.
 
‘The world in which this vote takes place is different and I thank the Government for working productively with me to make sure of that,’ she said.

Dr Kate Walker, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Refugee Health network, said the vote was ‘extremely disappointing’ and will ‘increase the risk of further deaths’ in offshore detention.
 
‘Twelve refugees and asylum seekers died in offshore processing in the five years prior to Medevac. No one has died since Medevac was put in place,’ she said.

‘The presidents of 12 prominent medical colleges have been united in support of Medevac and there is good reason for that – the law made perfect sense and allowed doctors to make judgements on what type of care is actually needed.’
 
Senator Lambie’s support for the Bill was met with accusations from the Greens and the Labor Party of a secret deal between her and the Government.
 
‘Members of the cabinet of Australia are coming in to vote on a deal that’s been done with Senator Jacqui Lambie that they don’t even know about,’ Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said.
 
Liberal Party Senate leader Mathias Cormann issued a denial, stating ‘there is no secret deal’, but Senator Lambie appeared to contradict him by saying negotiations with the Government – the details of which she refused to divulge – had led to her support for the laws’ repeal.
 
‘I put up to the Government a proposal to work with me on to secure my support for the passage of the repeal of Medevac,’ she said.
 
‘I’m not being coy or silly when I say I genuinely can’t say what I proposed.
 
‘I know that’s frustrating to people and I get that. I don’t like holding things back like this. But when I say I can’t discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100% honest to you.’
 
The admission drew an impassioned response from Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who accused either Senator Cormann or Senator Lambie of misleading Parliament.
 
‘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?
 
‘We’ve just heard that you and Senator Lambie have worked on a secret proposal, in good faith that she cannot disclose for so-called national security reasons.’


The repealed laws, which had broad support from the medical community, including the RACGP, gave doctors greater power to recommend that an asylum seeker on Manus Island or Nauru be transferred to Australia for medical treatment.
 
But the Government has been attempting to repeal the legislation ever since it surprisingly passed through the Lower House last year, on the grounds that it undermined regional processing and offered ‘very limited scope’ to refuse transfers.
 
International human rights and medical groups, including Amnesty International and Médecins Sans Frontières, have already criticised the repeal, which also passed with the support of One Nation and outgoing former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.
 
‘Asylum seekers and refugees who remain indefinitely contained on Nauru and [Papua New Guinea] have been blocked again from accessing treatment for critical health conditions where adequate care is not available locally,’ Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières Australia Paul McPhun said.
 
‘To now deny medical professionals from taking decisions in patients’ best interests – and to effectively hand that power back to unqualified officials – entrenches dangerous precedents set in the last years and puts those most sick and vulnerable at risk.
 
‘Preventing access to medical care as a policy tool is unethical and harmful to vulnerable people and the entire medical profession.’
 
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Jacquie Lambie Manus Island Medevac Nauru refugee health



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Dr Ian Mark Light   5/12/2019 8:35:22 AM

Australia a Human Rights Democracy can do better than that .
Australia has the capacity with the United Nations to establish Areas of Safe Sanctuary to many Refugees from War and Criminal Violence .
The Medevac Law did not need changing and was a ploy to bring votes to the Coalition from the severer Tribalistic types .
There are Tribes and Clans but peaceful co -existence is the better future with reality about security still powerful .