'Medevac' law: Australia denies medical evacuations for refugees

04 Décembre, 2019, 13:11 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Jacqui Lambie Network Senator Jacqui Lambie in Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra Monday

The vital refugee medevac laws are dead, with the government's claims there was "no secret deal" torpedoed by maverick senator Jacqui Lambie, who tearfully said there absolutely was.

The medevac law allowed for doctors to evacuate ill people to Australia for urgent medical treatment.

The bill's passage hinged on independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who said last week her vote depended on the government agreeing to a condition which she refused to disclose.

The push to shred the laws passed the House of Representatives in July but was stymied in the Senate, where the government does not hold a majority.

The home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, said the medevac regime had undermined the government's efforts to resettle refugees, saying it allowed a "back door" to Australia that removed an incentive for people to accept relocation to the US.

Advocate groups condemned the government's decision to repeal the law, saying it was a "callous and vindictive" political move to end the medical evacuation system that had seen nearly 200 people transferred to Australia for treatment.

The Australian Senate has passed the government's so called medevac repeal bill, 37 votes to 35.

"Let me just make the most important point right up front - there is no secret deal", the Government's leader in the Senate, Mathias Cormann, told the Parliament.

"A secret deal on such a critical piece of legislation is one of the most reprehensible things you can do as a member of parliament".

A teary Lambie told the Senate "I'm not being coy or silly when I say I genuinely can't say what I proposed". The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump said it would only honour that deal to maintain a strong relationship with Australia, and then only on condition that refugees satisfied strict checks.

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"But when I say I can't discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100 percent honest to you".

'My hand is on my heart and I can stand here and say that I would be putting at risk Australia's national security and national interest if I said anything else about this'.

Jacqui Lambie after speaking in the Senate on Wednesday.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued the law had presented a "national security" risk.

"We've worked to an outcome I believe we both want, which is an outcome that our borders are secure, the boats have stopped and sick people aren't dying waiting for treatment", she said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale demanded to know who was lying.

Opposition senators accused the government of "secrecy" in striking the last-minute deal. "It's very clear", he told a press conference following the vote succeeding.

Lambie said she put a proposal to the government, and worked together on the final wording. I know that's frustrating to people.

What's got the entire political bubble in uproar, though, is that it would appear Lambie and the Coalition struck some sort of deal that neither party are divulging, done in exchange for Lambie's vote on the issue. There will be no change to our strong border protection arrangements.

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