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Australia repeals law allowing onshore medical care for refugees

04 December 2019

Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann had told the chamber there was "no secret deal" - but just minutes later, Lambie tearfully confirmed her conditions for supporting the government had been met, but that she would not be revealing what she asked for.

"The world in which this vote takes place is different and I thank the Government for working productively with me to make sure of that", she added.

"Lambie said that she was " for the repeal of medevac because I am satisfied that the conditions that led to medevac being passed aren't the same as the conditions today", she said.

However, attention should swing to those still left on PNG, Nick McKim said "it's the darkest day for those people who remain on Manus and Nauru".

Advocate Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the government had resorted to "a shocking campaign of orchestrated leaks, lies and misinformation to repeal the medevac laws, "yet, the minister himself, has directly approved 86 percent of all medevac applications". Refuting claims that medevac has created a national security problem, he argued appropriate medical care is a basic human right.

Prior to the vote, Senator Lambie became emotional as she explained the reason for her decision. "I get that this vote will disappoint many, and I apologise for that". And I get that.

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

"The parliament and the Australian people have a right to know what this secret deal is", she said.

"I put to the government a proposal and since then we have worked together really hard to advance that proposal", she told parliament. "There is no secret deal, there is no secret", the Wiseau-esque words uttered by Matthais Cormann shortly before the repeal of the medevac bill is at best, prophetic, and at worst, absolute bull plop.

"Labor took a decision to weaken our border protection policies and we've taken a decision today to strengthen our border protection policies", he said.

Ms Lambie argued the legislation "was not a nationwide safety risk", however mentioned it gave an excessive amount of discretion to medical doctors.

"The Australian people know perfectly well how we are ensuring that the boats don't start coming again". Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in February: "Someone who is a pedophile, a rapist, who has committed a murder, any of these other crimes, can be moved by the voice of a couple of doctors on Skype".

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"We had Minister Cormann say that there was no deal - now we've had Senator Lambie say there is a deal - who is lying?"

Jacqui Lambie after speaking in the Senate on Wednesday.

"They say without their flawed Medevac laws there is no process for medical practitioners in terms of the transfer of individuals to Australia", he said.

Penny Wong, Labor's leader in the senate, called for the vote to be delayed until the terms of the negotiations were made public.

Polls show that 62% of voters support the law. She said medevac had nothing to do with Operation Sovereign Borders which Labor supported.

Following the repeal, Médecins Sans Frontières said it would endanger patients and is "unethical and harmful to vulnerable people and the entire medical profession".

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Australia repeals law allowing onshore medical care for refugees