I welcome the Government taking steps to improve the process for evacuating sick refugees from Nauru and Manus.
However the government proposed panel will have no power to overturn decisions made by the Department - it will simply be able to request a review.
I stand by my amendment that passed the Senate late last year. This bill will ensure that judgements on the medical needs of sick refugees are made by doctors, not departmental officials, while preserving ministerial veto on national security grounds.
The “medical transfers” legislation passed by the Senate does not jeopardise the security of our borders. The people smuggling trade has not resumed.
Claims that this measure will jeopardise the security of our borders are incorrect and yet another distasteful attempt to politicise what is a humanitarian issue.
The legislation provides a secure regime endorsed by medical experts for the transfer of people in offshore detention for the quality of medical assessment and treatment they need. There are still several hundred people who have been in PNG and Nauru for up to five years. For their sake I hope the House of Representatives now passes the “medical transfer” legislation already carried by the Senate.
In light of that, the most sensible step the government could take would be to support the Senate amendments. That would not be regarded as a matter of confidence, but acceptance of an approach which has broad, demonstrable community support without risking border security.