Yesterday, the Australian Labor Party’s caucus decided on three changes to the crossbench Medical Evacuation Bill which would, with limited ministerial veto powers, have put doctors in charge of deciding who, amongst the refugees indefinitely incarcerated on Manus and Nauru, is in need of being brought to Australia for urgent medical attention.
Labor’s three changes were:
(1) to extend the 24 hours available to a minister unhappy with a medical decision to declare that the refugee should go before a government appointed medical panel or to be declared a security risk,
(2) to extend the categories of offences that a minister might utilise to permanently exclude a refugee from Australia. The extra offences included are murder, paedophilia and such like.
(3) Labor want to add a clause limiting the coverage of the medical evacuations to those currently on Manus and Nauru.
The last of these points is intended to deflect the Coalition’s claim, backed up by the sleazy spivs in ASIO and Home Affairs, who have made outrageous claims about every refugee being medically evacuated here in a matter of weeks and reopening the people smuggler trade.
The first point goes to the issue that it may not be possible for a minister to get on top of every medical evacuation case in 24 hours and this may, as Karen Phelps said on ABC Breakfast, be an improvement if decisions are made quickly and within 72 hours.
The second point is the most contentious because the highest court in the land has consistently determined that Australia has a duty of care owed to all those whom we incarcerate.
Yesterday, Tony Mokbel was stabbed several times in a Victorian prison. Benito Dutton had no role in deciding whether or not to put him in an air ambulance and fly him to an emergency department of a leading hospital. Paedophiles, and murders who we are holding in jail have medical treatment determined by doctors. Such decisions are not the prerogative of knuckle-dragging bureaucrats or intellectually incompetent government ministers.
Australia no longer has the death penalty for those that the powerful despise. We have a duty of care to all we incarcerate. Even those, convicted of terrorism offences are provided with medical attention. It is a very slippery slope that Labor is on when it determines that some people who we incarcerate shall be denied the medical care they require but others can languish in tropical hellholes. We have seen the bracket creep that Benito Dutton has employed to deport and refuse admittance move from violent terrorist crimes to include those he deems to have failed a character test.
Copyright © 2020 John Tomlinson