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02 Aug 2019

The Government’s bill to repeal the Medevac legislation has passed in the Lower House, with four Coalition MPs who are doctors voting for medical decisions over asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to be returned to politicians and bureaucrats.

A heated three-day debate in the House of Representatives ended with a vote in favour of repealing the laws, which came into effect earlier this year.

The Government used its majority, which included its four medical doctor MPs, in the Lower House to reverse the Medevac legislation.

But there will be no changes to the law unless the repeal legislation passes in the Senate. It is there in the Upper House though, where the Government will face a harder time.

The Senate will not consider the repeal bill until a parliamentary committee examines it and gives its report, expected in October. 

During the debate in the Lower House, Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie described repealing the legislation as a “wicked thing” that would cause great harm.

She quoted from the Bible to appeal to Christian MPs not to repeal the law.

“Matthew 25 makes it very clear; Christians should see everyone as Christ in the flesh. And in the New Testament, stranger and neighbour are in fact synonymous,” Ms Sharkie said.

“The golden rule of love your neighbour as yourself refers not just to the people you know – your neighbours – but also to those you do not know… 

“Needless harm, unnecessary harm. It is quite simply a wicked thing that we are doing in this place. It is unnecessary.”

But with the vote going the Government’s way, all eyes have turned to the Senate where Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie is in a loose alliance with the Centre Alliance, but she has not yet revealed her voting intention.

Meanwhile, AMA President Dr Tony Bartone has met again with Home Affairs Department Chief Medical Officer Dr Pardodh Gogna to discuss the ongoing work of the Independent Advisory Panel that is assessing medical transfer applications from refugees on Manus and Nauru.

The AMA welcomed the Medevac bill when it was passed in February and has led a strong campaign for the health and mental health of asylum seekers in offshore detention.

The AMA is preparing a submission to the Senate Committee.

CHRIS JOHNSON 

 


Published: 02 Aug 2019