On 3 December 2019, the 47th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam government, the current Australian government took another step down the path of removing rights for asylum seekers.
The government repealed the Medevac laws which entitled refugees to be brought to Australia on the grounds of their medical condition, and that their medical condition was so serious it could not be treated by the offshore facilities.
The laws were passed one year ago in an attempt to save lives, as so many asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru had attempted self-harm as a result of their total loss of hope of any future.
Those laws have now been repealed.
The Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, has always had the right to refuse bringing people to Australia on the grounds of national security, serious character grounds or even if a doctor certified they should be brought to Australia, he could always appeal to the Independent Health Advice Panel to overrule that decision.
Now, the Minister has the final say no matter what the doctors say in relation to the health of a person.
As our principal Greg Martin says, as published in the Sydney Morning Herald:
“Never ever trust a politician saying “National Security” without ever revealing anything.
This is fearmongering politics aimed at winning the racist votes.
The Minister, Dutton, already has discretion to refuse a Medevac transfer on the grounds of “National Security”, “serious character grounds” or could appeal to an Independent Health Advice Panel. Now he can simply refuse without oversight. And people die.
A shambolic, shameful, incompetent government continues its march to authoritarian fascism.
Thoughts and prayers.”
These are dark days for the refugees on Papua New Guinea and Nauru. They have been trapped there for 6 years, unable to leave and unable to be resettled. Their only possibility was to go back where they came from, but by definition, a refugee suffers persecution in their country of origin. Some have elected to go back. Some have died after they have been returned to their home countries.
These are through government action or by self-harm.
These people deserve better. The cost to our community in terms of money, in terms of international reputation, and in terms of humanitarian damage, is huge.
In the future, there will be a reckoning, and somebody, somewhere down the line, will apologise.
We know it’s happening. We always knew what we were doing. It goes against our values of compassion, tolerance and diversity. It goes against our philosophy of being kind.
We urge you to write to your local member of parliament, indicating your opposition to the repeal of the Medevac laws. Enough is enough.
Remember, if they can do it to them, they would do it to us.