Immigration and Border Protection

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February 04, 2019

Scott Morrison has been forced into a humiliating backflip, caving to the pressure of the parliament and admitting he was wrong on the need for a medical review panel for vulnerable people in Australian-funded regional processing centres.

In a desperate attempt to avoid defeat on the floor of parliament, Scott Morrison has proposed a Medical Transfer Clinical Assurance Panel to review decisions where refugees and asylum seekers have been denied medical transfers when recommended by treating doctors.

Both Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton have said the medical transfer arrangements currently in place did not need to change and shamefully claimed having a panel of medical experts would start the boats again.

“So I think you know where I stand on this issue. I have always stood in the same place in this issue, I will never move from where I stand on this issue.– Scott Morrison, Thursday, 6 December 2018.

“We have considerable medical support and services, both in Nauru and in Manus Island. And where people require that attention, then it is provided, as has been the case with the children who have been transferred, or have been able to be moved to other locations. But don't kid yourself, don't kid yourself; you make that change to that process, for offshore processing, the people smugglers, it will be in their brochures by this afternoon. That's where it will be.” – Scott Morrison, Thursday, 6 December 2018.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure that these suggested changes, that would undermine our border protection laws, never see the light of day.” – Scott Morrison, Thursday, 6 December 2018.

We already have doctors doing exactly this and we already have medical transfers where they're necessary and they are undertaken.” – Scott Morrison, Sunday, 9 December 2018.

It is clear Scott Morrison will do anything to avoid a vote in the parliament and to cling to power – including playing politics with the lives of vulnerable people.

Labor believes that medical transfers to alternative treatment locations for refugees in regional processing centres should be made available when treatment is recommended by appropriate medical practitioners, without compromising our strong border protection measures.

Let’s not forget – this is a problem of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government’s own creation.

If Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton were capable of negotiating other third country resettlement options – something they have failed to do for more than five years – vulnerable people would not be languishing in indefinite detention and requiring medical transfers.

Labor has made clear that, in government, we will accept New Zealand’s offer and negotiate with them appropriate conditions to prevent people smugglers preying on vulnerable people, and negotiate other third country resettlement options as a priority.

Labor will never let the people smugglers back in business and we are committed to strong border measures including offshore processing, turnbacks when safe to do so and regional resettlement.