techkenyot.com
techkenyot.com February 18, 2019


Australia will reopen its Christmas Island detention centre

13 February 2019, 02:54 | Silvia Roy

Australian government suffers historic defeat over refugee medical bill

Doctors visited Parliament House to urge politicians to back a bill to make it easier for critically ill asylum seekers to be transferred to Australia

The amended bill, which passed into law in the Senate shortly after Morrison's announcement, hands doctors on Nauru and Manus Island greater power to transfer asylum seekers to Australian medical facilities.

Even still, Mr Shorten believes the "incompetent and divided" Morrison government should call an election as soon as possible.

Labor, the Greens and four independents backed the bill in the Senate after the same legislation was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday. Despite his historic loss, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to do the same.

"Last night was not about an election - last night was about the simple proposition that Australia is strong enough to treat people humanely", he told reporters at Parliament House.

Morrison said he would repeal the "foolish law" if his government were re-elected.

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Prime minister Scott Morrison will speak at the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday - where he will argue only his government can protect Australians from local and global threats.

Under a harsh policy meant to deter asylum seekers from reaching Australia by boat, Canberra sends arrivals to the camps for processing and barred them from resettling in Australia. His Liberal-National coalition's six years in power has been marked by instability, with two prime ministers toppled by internal insurrections.

Refugee advocates applaud the law that they regard as a more humanitarian approach toward asylum seekers.

Senator Derryn Hinch, who supported the initial bill for medical evacuations a year ago, had asked for security briefings before the Senate voted on the bill.

The changes included a provision that only the 1,000 asylum seekers now held on Nauru and Papua New Guinea and not any future arrivals would be considered for medical evacuation under the new regime.

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Sick asylum seekers often have to fight the Australian government in court for permission to be transferred to an Australian hospital.

"It should never have had to come to this point, but it is evident this bill was urgently needed to force action", lawyer Jennifer Kanis said in a statement.

"In a number of those cases, the delay in accessing medical treatment risked life-threatening consequences for the children and adults concerned", she added.

Speaking in front of Parliament House this morning, Morrison reiterated his position the vote will encourage people smugglers to continue their operations in Australian waters - and that reopening the shuttered centre was part of a contingency plan to dissuade those potential arrivals.

The federal opposition is introducing amendments to overhaul existing laws, lifting jail time for corporate crimes from 10 to 15 years and more than doubling the proposed cap on financial penalties.

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