Labor shifts on medivacs for asylum seekers ahead of vote today

Doctors visited Parliament House to urge politicians to back a bill to make it easier for critically ill asylum seekers to be transferred to Australia

Doctors visited Parliament House to urge politicians to back a bill to make it easier for critically ill asylum seekers to be transferred to Australia

"The priority for me having met with the general of Operation Sovereign Borders is to deal with the hard circumstance that Bill Shorten created", Dutton told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television.

Then it's up to the minister to reject it on medical grounds again, or national security grounds, or if the person has a substantial criminal record and poses a threat to the Australian community.

The Bill, which is an amendment to government legislation, was first passed by the Upper House in December, and will return to the Senate for a vote on Wednesday after several changes were made to it. "My job now is to do everything in my power and the power of the government to ensure what the Parliament has done to weaken our border does not result in boats coming to Australia".

"Where we will always stand, and the Australian people can always trust us to do, is to have the mettle to ensure the integrity of our border protection framework".

The Prime Minister suffered a humiliating defeat not seen by any sitting government in federal Parliament since 80 years, however he insists that the Coalition retains the ability to govern.

"Unnecessarily risky delays have put people's lives at risk".

Medical evacuations have become a loophole in Australia's policy of exiling asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

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Independent MP Kerryn Phelps and Greens leader Richard Di Natale have also predicted several hundred asylum seekers could qualify for transfer and treatment. The sprawling Christmas Island camp was closed in October and is one of 19 immigration detention centers that the government closed due to an absence of boat arrivals. At its peak in 2010, the Christmas Island facility was home to around 2,400 people. A wooden boat carrying 90 asylum seekers from Iran and Iraq ran onto rocks on Christmas Island in 2010, killing 48.

The estimate of 300 cases is in line with the estimate from Australian doctor Nick Martin, who was based on Nauru in 2016 and 2017 and told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald last week that about 30 per cent of the 1,000 people on the islands would seek a transfer.

Under the previous system, the Minister for Home Affairs, now Peter Dutton, had final say over all proposed medical transfers.

"This parliament has already tipped its hand enough to the people smugglers", he said.

"If you steal from a bank you go to jail, but if the bank steals from you there's no guarantee they'll even get to court", said Mr Shorten.

"There is no question that people smugglers will be hearing very clearly that the policy in Australia has changed", Dutton said.

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