Australia repeals law allowing onshore medical care for refugees

Jacqui Lambie speaks in the Senate with Mathias Cormann

"We've worked to an outcome I believe we both want, which is an outcome that our borders are secure, the boats have stopped and sick people aren't dying waiting for treatment", she said. "I know that's frustrating to people", Lambie said. And I get that.

"But when I say I can't discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100 percent honest to you".

"To now deny medical professionals from taking decisions in patients' best interests - and to effectively hand that power back to unqualified officials. puts those most sick and vulnerable at risk", Paul McPhun, Executive Director of Medecins Sans Frontières Australia said in a statement. "Now we've just heard Senator Lambie say there is a deal", he said. She suggested security matters were involved.

"Medevac lets the doctors make the call and the minister has an incredibly limited ability to overrule it".

"Hundreds of people, damaged by our policies, will now find it harder to receive care for the suffering we have caused - and all for the sake of a political victory".

"I get that this vote will disappoint many and I apologise for that. This is a matter of conscience".

But the Federal Government continues to insist there was no deal, let alone a secret one.

Repealing the medevac laws was a major focus for the government in the last parliamentary sitting fortnight of the year, which concludes on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump's administration said that it would only honor that deal to maintain a strong relationship with Australia, and then only on condition that refugees satisfied strict checks. Will this undermine border security? We have to know the details to know if this is a sound deal.

Senior government frontbencher Simon Birmingham said Labor's claims were "completely misleading" and "complete over reach".

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In February, opposition, with the help of independent lawmakers, provided doctors with the right to decide on asylum seekers living in the camps and send them to Australia in case they require medical attention.

Australia took a backward and inhumane step when it comes to basic human rights with the repeal of the Medevac Bill, World Vision's Head of Policy and Advocacy, Andrew White said today.

He described the legislation as a law created to provide a "backdoor" to Australia, which was now closed.

"Someone's lying here. Either Senator Lambie is lying or the government is lying".

The Australian senate on Wednesday afternoon voted to repeal the medevac laws 37 votes to 35, with the right-wing One Nation Party and independent Senator Jacqui Lambie joining forces with the governing coalition.

Senator Lambie has yet to speak in the debate being held this morning, but is expected to address the chamber shortly.

"They are using (Medevac) to stay in this country".

Thirteen medical colleges and more than 5,000 doctors had warned against any attempt to wind back the medevac laws.

"We know some of these people's problems are self inflicted, like palm oil into their penis".

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