There is no shortage of concerns about the well-meaning but ill-conceived changes proposed over the way sick asylum seekers are brought to Australia for treatment.
Among those is the simple fact that anyone can claim to be seriously ill. And people who are desperate enough can easily go so far as to actually make themselves sick.
Citing a range of problems with the changes, Senior Federal Government Minister Mathias Cormann made it clear there’ll be absolutely no compromise with Labor.
As a parliamentary vote on the reforms is approaching, Senator Cormann says there is no need for the proposed changes, as reported by AAP.
‘There is no way to improve this bad bill,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
‘This is a bill that would weaken our border protection policies, it is a bill that would put people smugglers back into business.
‘We are not at all interested in weakening the current border protection policies.’
Before his meeting with shadow cabinet and Labor caucus today, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will go through a security briefing on the proposed changes.
Labor says middle ground possible
Mr Shorten insists finding a ‘middle ground’ with the Coalition is still on the cards.
However, the opposition is facing great pressure to rip support for the changes all together.
‘Under the proposed changes — which have already passed the Senate with the backing of Labor and crossbenchers — two doctors could request evacuations of offshore asylum seekers to Australia’, the APP reported.
This assessment would then be up for review by a minster within 24 hours. And if rejected, it is left to the scrutiny of an independent health advice panel.
Labour emphasised that the panel’s advice could still be overruled by a minister on security grounds, reported by AAP.
But Immigration Minister David Coleman was quick to point out that the government has advice showing — if the changes came into effect — all asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru would be sent to Australia within weeks.
A move that would certainly threaten the nation’s offshore processing system, and ultimately lead to its collapse.
Liberals predict collapse of offshore processing
Opposition immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann called Mr Coleman a ‘shrill liar’, claiming Labor would never let people smugglers back in business by giving wiggle room in offshore processing.
But this is exactly the kind of policy that allows that sort of wiggle room. After all, how do we police such advice — or do we expect everything to run off good faith. Even if it is unfair to those coming to Australia through the right channels?
A vote on the changes in the lower house is expected as early as this week.
That means there’s a scary possibility that given enough support from crossbenchers, Labor could get passed through the senate, which would signal a loss for the Coalition.
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