Medivac bill ‘gives doctors control over refugees’

February 08, 2019

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has been proven right, yet again, after he opposed a Labor-Greens-and-left-crossbench move to take control of who comes to Australia, out of the hands of the Immigation Minister and give it to medics.

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The Australian Government Solicitor has advised the Morrison government a Labor-Greens-and left-crossbench-backed refuge­e medivac bill would “drastically limit ministerial discretion” over who could enter Australia, by transferring that responsibility to doctors.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the solicitor’s advice suggested that, even if people had been convicted of rape or murder, they could still be transferred to Australia from Papua New Guinea or Nauru under the medivac legislation.

The advice directly contradicts arguments by Labor that the home affairs minister would ­retain ultim­ate discretion to reject anyone convicted of violent ­offences under the definition of “national security” in the ASIO Act.

“The government’s position, based on legal advice from the AGS, is that this is clearly not the case. The Labor advice is wrong,” Mr Porter said.

He also warned that the medivac bill — which could pass the House of Representatives next week with support from Labor, left-wing-independe­nt and Greens MPs — would allow doctors to transfer healthy people to Australia.

“The amendments would leave that decision essentially in the hands of two doctors who do not even need to determine that someone is actually ill, merely that someone should come to Australia for further assessment,” Mr Porter said.

“Two doctors would have the broad and effective power to ­determine which person in offshore facilities should come to Australia, without the minister having any ultimate say in that decision”.

Crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie said she will support the legislation to medically evacuate refugees, despite security warnings from intelligence agencies.

Senator Bernardi told the Senate late last year, if this legislation passes, Labor, the Greens and the left wing independents will be responsible for opening up the people-smuggling floodgates.

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