SENATOR THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
ANDREW GILES MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
MEMBER FOR SCULLIN
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
SUBJECTS: Medevac; Medevac Petition
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: I want to thank the 51,000 Australians who signed this petition for making their support known to the Parliament, to the Senate, to the Government, that they join with many of us in this place who support the Medevac laws.
There are many parties and Independents here today and they'll all get the opportunity to say a few words. I would like to thank though the people who have organised this petition and the people who have signed it.
It is an important act of our democratic values that the public speak up and have a say and show their strong support for these Medevac laws. Now Medevac is working we know it's working because sick people are getting the health care that they need.
We also know that almost every claim the Government, that Minister Dutton, and the Prime Minister make about Medevac, is utterly without fact. If you listen to Mr Dutton, you would believe that he is somehow powerless when it comes to Medevac. Nothing could be further from the truth. And the Independent Health Advice Panel reports that are tabled in the Senate show that under the Medevac laws the Minister retains the power to determine who comes into the country when it comes to security grounds - that is un-appealable and unquestionable. Those reports also show that when the Minister. or doctors the Minister appoints, approve a transfer on medical grounds, people are able to get the health care they need. Those reports also show that when the Minister refuses a determination on medical grounds - a recommendation on medical grounds - that has been more often than not upheld by the doctors the Minister has appointed. In every step of the way the Minister or doctors appointed by the Minister make decisions about who needs a medical transfer.
A Minister has the power to determine who comes to the country when it comes to character and national security grounds.
And we know this is true because the Minister has used these powers in recent weeks. He has used these powers to bar someone entering into Australia on the basis of character and national security grounds. The Minister would have us believe that he is somehow powerless.
Nothing is further from the truth. What this Bill does is empowers sick people to do what every single one of us do every day if we are sick, is to go to a doctor to get advice on how to get treatment. That's what these laws allow for - sick refugees, sick asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru, to be able to access a doctor and get a doctor's advice as to what is the best course of treatment. I'm very pleased that last year Labor and the crossbench supported the implementation of the Medevac laws, and I stand here today with my colleagues, and with the 51,000 Australians who signed this petition to say we will do everything we can to ensure that Medevac remains the law of the land in Australia.
ANDREW GILES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURALISM: A few weeks ago, Labor the Greens and Independents in the House of Representatives did everything we could to save Medevac. Today, the Senate has the opportunity to do just that, to do what we were unable to do in the House of Representatives. And I'm calling on all Senators to have regard to a couple of things in this regard. Firstly, that the Government has chosen not to put its arguments before the Parliament against Medevac - because they can't.
Instead, they've chosen divisive rhetoric, and frankly, a range of unfounded and often ridiculous allegations, rather than engage with the real debate here, which as my colleagues have said - it's about decency. It's about enabling sick people in our care, to get medical attention that he's determined by doctors, not politicians, and not bureaucrats. And today, as we gather here, I ask all the Senators, all the Senators who have this decision in their hands to have regard to the petition we've received the voices of more than 51,000 Australians to opinion polling today which demonstrates what's been clear throughout - the Australian community values Medevac because it is entirely consistent with the most fundamental Australian values of compassion and decency. Senators have the opportunity to make a stand for those values - they can do so by saving Medevac.