The bill - brought by independent MP Kerryn Phelps, who replaced Malcolm Turnbull in the seat of Wentworth - would enable refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to come to Australia for medical treatment if that course of action is recommended by two doctors.
In his letter to Mr Shorten, Mr Morrion also noted the ASIO Act does not cover paedophilia, rape, murder, theft or arson. But Dr Phelps said her bill would only apply to people granted refugee status, meaning they had been assessed as not having committed a serious crime.
The government’s proposed Medical Transfer Clinical Assurance Panel is the product of a heartless, knife-edge political calculation, designed to do just enough to avoid defeat on the floor of the parliament when sittings resume next week, yet to leave scope for a bit of “soft on boats” rhetoric during the ensuing election.
The Federal Government insists its announcement of an independent panel to oversee medical transfers of asylum seekers is not an attempt to head off a defeat on the floor of Parliament next week over the issue.
But refugee advocates say the five-person review panel isn't good enough, as it won't have the power to overturn a minister's decision.
Federal Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan today welcomed the news that the remaining refugee children and their families are being removed from Nauru.
“I am pleased to see this announcement from the Government and I congratulate community representatives and refugee advocates for their strong work in this area,” Ms McGowan said.
The PM has announced a panel of independent medical experts will review any decision by the Immigration Department to block medical transfers from Nauru and Manus Island.
The concession is an attempt to head off what could be a humiliating defeat for the government in Federal Parliament next week.
“Once ordinary Australians realised that the Government was locking up kids in our name, they made it clear they wouldn’t stand for it.”
George Newhouse, Managing Director of the National Justice Project said: “From our first case, back in 2016, the Minister fought us every step of the way. But the courts always gave us what we asked for because the evidence was so clear. The Minister drove children to psychosis, attempt suicide or to completely give up on life. Across the sector, we worked together to stop him. This week we won.”
The absence of children on the islands will reduce the gravity of the bill before Parliament to compel ministers to approve medical transfers for ill refugees. It may still pass despite the Morrison government's opposition: a humiliating defeat.