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12 Jul 2019

During the first week of the 46th Parliament, AMA President Dr Tony Bartone held a number of meetings at Parliament House, Canberra.

One high-level appointment was with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in what Dr Bartone described as a very respectful conversation about the health of asylum seekers.

Mr Dutton repeated the Government’s intention to repeal the Medevac Bill, and Dr Bartone stressed the AMA’s view that all asylum seekers and refugees in the care of the Australian Government should have access to quality health care.

The Government has subsequently introduced repeal legislation to the House of Representatives, but it will not pass the Parliament before late October because it has been referred to a Senate inquiry first.

“We are very clear about each other’s issues and concerns and we will continue to have constructive dialogue in the weeks ahead,” Dr Bartone said.

“The Government has a particular course of action – a particular way ahead – and we will remain engaged to ensure that at the end of the day we can hand-on-heart be clear about our commitment to the ongoing, independent medical assessment and access to appropriate medical care of the refugees.”

Dr Bartone insisted there must be a robust process for the independent medical assessment of the health of asylum seekers and refugees in the care of the Australian Government.

The AMA is represented on the Independent Health Advice Panel by AMA ACT President Dr Antonio Di Dio.

Mr Dutton assured Dr Bartone he would remain engaged with the AMA in all matters dealing with the health of asylum seekers and refugees.

Dr Bartone said the AMA will have regular ongoing discussions with Mr Dutton and other relevant Ministers as the process continues.

“We had a very, very open and informative conversation,” Dr Bartone said.

“I think at this early juncture, there was an acknowledgement of the intent to continue to have that conversation.”


Published: 12 Jul 2019