‘Crunch time’ for Medevac negotiations as government faces off with crossbenchers

Australia Business World
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Negotiations on unwinding Australia’s controversial refugee “medevac” laws are reaching a crunch point.

The government’s repeal bill does not yet appear on the Senate notice paper for next week, but Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is locked in negotiations with crucial swing voter and independent Senator Jacqui Lambie to secure her support.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

AAP

“We will be moving that legislation as soon as we practically can,” Senator Cormann told Sky News on Friday.

“We will continue to work with the crossbench to secure the passage of that legislation as soon as possible.”

Labor and the crossbench rammed the medevac laws through parliament earlier this year.

The laws gave doctors a much greater say in the evacuation of sick refugees from offshore detention to the mainland for medical treatment.

Senator Jacqui Lambie hold the balance of power.

Senator Jacqui Lambie hold the balance of power.

AAP

Senator Cormann described the new regime as “incredibly reckless and irresponsible”.

Refugee supporters will rally in Melbourne on Saturday to call for the retention of the medevac laws.

Manus Island and Nauru have been described as "medical black holes" before the medevac laws, by advocates.

Manus Island and Nauru have been described as “medical black holes” before the medevac laws, by advocates.

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Labor MP Josh Burns and Greens MP Adam Bandt are due to address the crowd, along with former Nauru detainee Betelhem Tibebu Zeleke.

Refugee Action Collective spokesman Chris Breen said Manus Island and Nauru were “medical black holes” before the medevac laws, with bureaucrats and politicians routinely overruling decisions by treating doctors.

“We can’t return to that situation. Health care is a right for all,” Mr Breen said.

With AAP…

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