Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has pounced on the case of a Burmese asylum seeker accused of child molestation, who is being brought to Australia for medical treatment under the controversial “medevac” laws.
Dutton will also try to convince Senate crossbencher Jacqui Lambie to help repeal the legislation next week.
“This individual is an example of exactly why we called this a bad bill,” Dutton told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.
The medevac legislation allows the temporary transfers of sick asylum seekers from offshore detention—such as in Nauru and Papua New Guinea—to Australia for treatment or assessment, on the recommendation of medical professionals—with the exception of refusal by the Home Affairs Minister on character or national security grounds.
The legislation, which became law in March 1, was intended to streamline the process for asylum seekers and refugees to access medical care in Australia.
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison and [Dutton] have both suggested that the transfer of refugees to Australia for medical care under the new medevac process would ‘displace’ Australian citizens from medical services,” wrote Lauren Martin and Dr Sangeetha Pillai from the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.
Medevac Transferees Had Dental Pain, Refuse Treatment After Landing in Australia
Multiple media reports in Australia on Wednesday noted that five refugees who had complained of abdominal problems or dental pain had later refused help after being transferred to Australia for medical treatment.
Senate estimates heard in October five asylum seekers transferred to Australia from offshore detention under Medevac laws later refused treatment.
The Australian reported that two men complained of dental pains but then refused treatment, with the others complaining of dermatitis or abdominal pain.
Estimates also heard 43 transferees refused an induction check, chest X-ray or pathology on arrival as part of the screening into the country
Former Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews told the Australian the figures showed the Medevac laws were being “gamed.”
Crossbencher and Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff told the paper it still was not enough to justify repealing the laws.
“You can have the same situation in a suburb of Canberra,” he said. “They need treatment and they opt not to take it. It’s really no different.”
Estimates heard there had been 341 applications made under medevac laws since they came into effect, with 293 deemed valid but only 135 involving transfers to Australia from Papua New Guinea or Nauru.
The government will need crossbench support to repeal the laws.
Epoch Times Staff contributed to this report.
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