THE HON SHAYNE NEUMANN MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND BORDER PROTECTION
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BLAIR
CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
MEDICAL TRANSFER OF CHILDREN FROM AUSTRALIAN-FUNDED REGIONAL PROCESSING CENTRES
Labor will introduce legislation to address the Government’s failure to ensure children in Australian-funded regional processing centres receive the urgent medical care they need.
For five years, successive Liberal governments have failed to ensure that children in regional processing centres are receiving timely and adequate care – or being transferred to alternative locations for that care.
Labor shares the increasing concerns expressed by the medical fraternity, including the Australian Medical Association, that the Government is failing in its obligations to provide adequate medical care for children in offshore processing locations.
To address the Liberals’ failure, Labor will introduce legislation to:
- Ensure the recommendation of treating clinicians is the primary consideration when determining a temporary medical transfer for a child;
- Ensure the Minister, not the bureaucracy, is the final decision-maker with respect to medical transfers;
- Require the Minister to make a determination on medical transfers within 24 hours;
- Introduce greater transparency and accountability over decisions to approve or deny the medical transfer of children; and
- Strengthen the existing Independent Health Advice Panel by establishing it in legislation, regularising its work, entrenching greater independence through membership, and mandating transparency in its reporting.
These are practical, reasonable and responsible measures to address the chaotic, confusing and inconsistent medical transfer process that currently exists for asylum seeker and refugee children.
This is about making sure vulnerable and sick children in Australia’s care can receive the medical treatment they need – when and where they need it.
If the Liberals’ decision making had the best interests of the child at its core, then they should welcome these proposed improvements, which entrench this principle and enhance transparency over decision making.
Under Labor’s legislation, families, a parent or a guardian will be able to transferred to Australia whilst the child undergoes treatment. The Bill ensures that the rights of the child are a primary consideration for the Minister – every child has a right to be with their family or guardian.
Labor has long held concerns about medical treatment services and medical transfer procedures in regional processing centres. We investigated these issues in the Labor-initiated Senate inquiry following the leaked Nauru files.
Labor believes that medical transfers to alternative treatment locations for refugees and children in regional processing centres should be made available when treatment is recommended by appropriate medical practitioners.
Labor will not put the lives of vulnerable children at risk by allowing people smugglers to restart their vile trade. Labor’s proposed legislation will mean children in regional processing centres can receive medical treatment when it is required.
Ensuring Australia maintains strong borders does not absolve the Government of its obligation to provide appropriate health, security, and welfare services to children in Australian-funded regional processing centres.
Labor’s policy on asylum seekers is clear – we will never let the people smugglers back in business.
We believe in strong borders, offshore processing, regional resettlement and turnbacks when safe to do so, because we know it saves lives at sea.
Nauru and Manus Island were set up as temporary regional processing centres but have become places of indefinite detention because of the failure of successive Liberal Governments to negotiate other third country resettlement options.
Scott Morrison must do everything possible to end genuine refugees languishing in indefinite detention – he should begin by accepting New Zealand’s generous offer to resettle eligible refugees, including children, from Nauru and Manus Island as quickly as possible.
Labor has made clear that, in government, we will accept New Zealand’s offer with appropriate conditions, and negotiate other third country resettlement options as a priority
Labor took a strong, progressive policy to the last election – including commitments to increase Australia’s annual humanitarian intake to 27,000 by 2025, provide funding to support the important work of the UNHCR and establish an Independent Children’s Advocate to protect the rights of children.
TUESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2018