Medevac repeal one step closer

Matt Woodley

25/07/2019 4:18:13 PM

The Federal Government has voted to scrap asylum seeker medical evacuation laws, but passage through the Senate is still uncertain.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in Parliament
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton believes there is no medical emergency on Nauru or Manus Island.

Introduced by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Representatives amid outcry from the Opposition and minor parties.
However, it is not expected to go before the upper house until at least November, with the legislation due to undergo a Senate inquiry that won’t report back until 18 October.
Labor’s attempts to amend the repeal bill were voted down on Wednesday night, but that did not stop Shadow Minister Assisting for Immigration and Citizenship Andrew Giles from criticising coalition MPs for not participating in the debate and explaining why it should be abolished.
Many requests for transfer have been made on mental health grounds and Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus also accused the government of not doing its job due to apparent delays in responding to applications.
During the debate, Mr Dreyfus cited the example of a family of four who had been sent to Nauru in 2014 and eventually lost a member to suicide after four years in detention. The death reportedly caused the rest of the family’s mental health to deteriorate, but multiple requests from their lawyer for evacuation on medical grounds went unanswered by Minister Dutton’s office.
‘It should not take many months, a suicide, multiple suicide attempts, countless medical reports and an application to the Federal Court of Australia for vulnerable people in Australia’s care to receive urgent medical assistance,’ Mr Dreyfus said.
‘The solicitor, the judge and the doctors were doing their job. The Medevac laws merely require this callous and incompetent minister to do his.’
The Coalition has made it a priority to repeal the Medevac laws, claiming they ‘undermine’ regional processing and offer ‘very limited scope’ to refuse transfers. Minister Dutton previously told Parliament ‘there is no medical emergency on Manus or Nauru’ and accused detainees who self-harm of attempting to ‘game’ the system.
‘Any law which removes the government's ultimate discretion to decide who enters Australia's borders undermines our strong border protection policies,’ he said.
‘As a nation it is imperative we are able to determine who enters Australia and whether they should remain in our borders permanently.’
As of June, 31 asylum seekers and refugees had been transferred for medical treatment under the laws introduced by former Wentworth MP Dr Kerryn Phelps. The government has rejected another nine cases recommended by doctors.
The Coalition, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and independent senator Cory Bernardi are all expected to support the repeal bill in the Senate, whereas the Greens and Labor will oppose.
Members from the Centre Alliance minor party, which holds two seats in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives, also oppose the repeal bill. However, their loose alliance with Tasmanian Senator Jacquie Lambie could be tested as she is expected to hold the deciding vote, but is yet to declare her intentions.

asylum seekers Medevac refugees

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Dr Patrick Fergal McSharry   26/07/2019 7:29:00 PM

Thank you for an article that's not insulting to either side I believe in this contentious debate. It shows both sides . So let democratic process deal with it. These are not medical or legal decisions , they are political decisions .
In Canada , my college always took an opinion on these matters even outside it's jurisdiction as this seems to be ( also ) for the RACGP . ?
Regards Patrick
CCFP FRACGP DABFM ( the American Board generally is apolitical as they have what's called the AAFM as An Advocate for patients and physicians and if course the AMA)