Government dismantles life-saving Medevac bill

December 04, 2019

The Asylum Seekers Centre condemns the Federal Government for deliberately dismantling the Medevac system, which was providing life-saving medical care for sick refugees and people seeking asylum in offshore detention.

“It is clear that the responsibility of Senator Lambie’s position has weighed heavily on her, but it is at the government’s feet the responsibility truly lies,” says CEO Frances Rush. “This is a dark day for people seeking asylum in PNG and on Nauru when, on the back of a seemingly secret deal, the Government has trampled over democratic process in order to score this political point.

“The Australian Government is denying more than 600 people, held indefinitely in detention, access to their fundamental human right to healthcare. And the Australian people are not privy to the arrangements,” says Rush.

“Australians have the right to know why the government has pushed through this bill against the wishes of 62% of Australians who support the Medevac process. And against the advice of more than 5000 doctors who have put their names publicly behind this bill. We deserve to see the details.”

The Asylum Seekers Centre commends Senators who voted today against the government’s repeal. Attempts by Labor and the Greens to make amendments to protect people who were already in the Medevac system were a glimmer of light in an otherwise cruel day. “The Medevac process of recommending sick people for medical attention has not caused an increase in boat arrivals to Australia, nor affected national security. What it has done is stopped the steady stream of preventable deaths in PNG and on Nauru,” says Rush.

The Asylum Seekers Centre is proud to have been a part of the Medical Evacuation Response Group which assisted with applications to the Minister for medical evacuations. This group of partner organisations (also known as the Medevac Group) includes doctors, lawyers, caseworkers and counsellors who have worked with people on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea to make their applications for transfer. “This repeal only strengthens our resolve to continue supporting people seeking asylum, on shore in Australia and offshore in detention. We will not abandon them as the Federal Government has done,” says Rush.


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