Immigration Detention – Urgent Medical Care


Peter Khalil: So many hundreds of my constituents have spoken to me of their concerns about the health and welfare of kids on Nauru, sentiments I’ve expressed many times since being elected in 2016. I have had so many conversations with community groups—#RightTrack, Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children, Academics for Refugees, Ducks for Detainees, Labor for Refugees, Doctors for Refugees, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Northsiders with Refugees—many NGOs and, importantly, hundreds of individual constituents all concerned over the great distress people, particularly children, experience on Nauru. I share those concerns.

As I argued in my very first speech to this parliament, Australia has a moral obligation to take responsibility for the care of those refugees who have been physically or emotionally damaged by the long-term detention that they have been submitted to. I have been working towards that goal, alongside my Labor colleagues, since elected two years ago.

That’s why I’m so pleased that Labor today has announced the introduction of legislation to the parliament to address the failures and ensure that all children on Nauru receive the urgent medical care that they need. Under Labor’s proposed legislation, children will be transferred with their families to Australia to receive the treatment that they need. The legislation will also ensure that the recommendations of treating clinicians are the primary consideration when determining a temporary medical transfer for a child. It will ensure that the minister, not the bureaucracy, is the final decision-maker and, importantly, require the minister to make a determination on medical transfers within 24 hours. It will introduce greater transparency and accountability over decisions to approve or deny medical transfers of children and strengthen the Independent Health Advice Panel by establishing it in legislation, entrenching greater independence and mandating transparency in its reporting. Labor’s bill includes practical, reasonable and responsible measures for medical transfer of children from Nauru. A Shorten Labor government, if elected, will also cut temporary protection visas and reinstate the Status Resolution Support Services, which are designed to help vulnerable migrants, including people seeking asylum.

I would like to thank all those constituents in my electorate who have worked so hard, been so passionate and been such energetic advocates for those less fortunate. Your commitment and your dedication, as well as that of tens of thousands of Australians across the country who have contributed, have made these policy changes possible today. We have much work to do, but today was a good day for the Labor Party, which believes that the light on the hill shines for all humanity.