Senators and Members of Parliament have come together from across the political spectrum to vote through historic legislation allowing people detained offshore to access urgent medical care in Australia.
This legislation, known as Medevac, is desperately needed to adequately respond to an acute medical crisis on Manus Island and Nauru, where 12 people have died in the last five years. An inquest into Hamid Khazaie’s death showed that it occurred as a preventable result of clinical errors and delays. Another inquest, into the death of Omid Masoumali, is currently underway.
According to the Refugee Council, the vote is indicative of a wider shift in public opinion, with doctors, academics, human rights groups, and politicians from across the spectrum and ordinary Australians all calling for the humane treatment of people in offshore detention. This public outcry led to the recent removal of all children and their families from Nauru.
Immediately after the legislation was passed, however, the Government announced that they would re-open facilities on Christmas Island to accommodate transfers and new arrivals. In response, some raised concerns about the adequacy of healthcare available.
Polling indicates that attempts to use offshore detention as a political football as the election approaches are misguided. A recent poll showed that a majority of the population support the new legislation.