Scott Morrison's Response To The Medivac Bill Is Reopening Christmas Island

Scott Morrison's Response To The Medivac Bill Is Reopening Christmas Island

Australia will reopen a controversial detention centre for asylum seekers, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday after an embarrassing defeat in parliament that allows migrants in offshore camps to receive medical care in the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is facing a general election due by May, has said the change would undermine the country's deterrent immigration policies and encourage a new wave of refugees to pay smugglers to get them to Australia.

"My job now is to do everything within my power, and the power of the government, to ensure that what the Parliament has done to weaken our borders does not result in boats coming to Australia", he said.

The changes included a provision that only the 1,000 asylum seekers now held on Nauru and Papua New Guinea and not any future arrivals would be considered for medical evacuation under the new regime.

"They should be ashamed of themselves for luring people to Australia by somehow implying that this government hasn't got strong borders".

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Parliament rebuffed government warnings and adopted legislation opening the door for some of the 1,000 refugees detained in existing offshore centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island to travel to Australia for medical treatment if the transfers are requested by two or more doctors.

"If they do come, you can thank the Labor Party and Bill Shorten because he is the one who has led this process".

While the applications have not been lodged, the government was told to expect the medical recommendations, a view supported by advice from International Health and Medical Services, the contractor providing medical care to the asylum seekers.

Under the new laws, the home affairs minister will have 72 hours to make a decision on whether to agree to a medical transfer.

In a direct response, Mr Morrison confirmed steps had already been taken to reopen the Christmas Island detention facility and that action had been taken to strengthen Operation Sovereign Borders. "We don't want the vile people smuggler trade in business, exploiting people's misery", Shorten said.

"The government tells us that this bill is a constitutional crisis".

"Yesterday was a win for compassion and decency over the politics of fearmongering and hysteria and cruelty that we have seen under this government", he added.

Also in the Swiss city on Wednesday night, Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee activist who has spent five years on Manus Island, won the Martin Ennals Award 2019, one of the most prestigious worldwide human rights prizes, organisers said.

He said the new laws only allowed the minister to refuse entry to Australia if someone had been sentenced, not if they were only facing charges. Mr. Dutton did not say what category of asylum seeker might be sent to Christmas Island instead of Nauru.

As a precaution, the government announced it has reopened a detention center on Christmas Island, a territory some 1,550 km (960 miles) north-west of the mainland.

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