Government proposal puts politics above humanity

The Federal Government’s attempt to derail the proposed refugee medical transfer bill cynically places politics above humane treatment of seriously ill refugees. – Spokesperson for the Refugee Action Campaign Canberra Dr John Minns said this today.

He slammed the Government’s proposal to set up an independent review panel to vet medical transfers rather than implementing the speedy two doctor approval process proposed in the bill currently before parliament.

“The proposal announced by Prime Minister Morrison is a transparently political attempt to avoid defeat on the floor of the House of Representatives,” he said. 

“It proposes a clumsy bureaucratic system which would perpetuate the delays seen in the past which have in some cases led to the death of people who could have been saved with speedy medical treatment.”

Dr Minns said statements that placing a decision on health matters in the hands of doctors rather than bureaucrats would lead to the collapse of the present over-arching government policy on refugees arriving by boat were patently nonsense.

“When it comes to making an urgent decision on treating a sick person in an Australian hospital rather than in an isolated centre with limited facilities, I would trust independent doctors’ opinions over bureaucrats and politicians any time,” he said.

Dr Minns said it was shameful that Australia was even having a debate over this matter. 

“A process enabling rapid transfers of sick refugees to Australia should have been established without fuss years ago instead of having to resort to court cases on many occasions”, he said.

“But it is time we moved on from this politically entrenched victimisation of people who have come to us for help. Enough is enough.”

While welcoming the imminent removal of the remaining children and their families from Nauru, Dr Minns said that after six years of confining these families this step was well overdue.

“There is an alternative way of treating refugees fleeing from harm and seeking refuge in our country.” he said.  “It would be humane, safe and cost effective and would build on and improve a process Australia implemented for south east Asian refuges decades ago.”

It would involve the establishment of fast transit processing centres at countries of first arrival including flying UNHCR approved refugees to Australia. This would avoid deaths at sea and prevent the psychological and physical harm Australia had inflicted on innocent people by incarcerating them for years on isolated islands.

“Such a system would be not only more humane but far more cost effective than incarcerating people on Manus and Nauru,” he said. “It beggars belief that politicians have not already implemented this proven option, but have been beguiled by the supposed political dividend from the rhetoric of fear.”

Enquiries and interview  
Dr John Minns  
0407 483 952                                                         
6 February 2019

One thought on “Government proposal puts politics above humanity

  1. Aziz Abdul Adam says:

    Dear Ian,

    I am Aziz Abdul Adam and I have been indefinitely detained on Manus Island for six years.

    I have seen 12 of my brothers lose their lives from violence or mental illness.

    I cannot tell you how hard it is to live with physical and mental pain and trauma when you don’t know what’s going to happen to you in the future.

    I have been watching men beside me get sicker and sicker. They are taken to Port Moresby for hospital or other treatment, but come back still sick. Some have had the wrong treatment that has made them worse.

    I take care of at least 30 people who have harmed themselves and don’t have anyone else to turn to.

    I talk to them and try to give them some hope, I am their friend and their counsellor. To each other we are the family that we have all been separated from for over six years.

    I am not a doctor but I try to do my best. I get very tired and I am traumatised myself. But I stay strong for my brothers, we get through together.

    You and a big community got kids on Nauru transferred for medical treatment in Australia to save their lives.

    Sick people will die in offshore detention without urgent medical treatment.

    The ASRC released data on the medical condition of 49 cases from their case-work to show that most people on Manus and Nauru have been waiting for 2 to 3 years, with some waiting more than 5 years.

    We have been living with painful sicknesses like kidney stones and cardiac conditions for years.

    The local doctors on Manus don’t want to treat us, they send police when someone attempts suicide instead of a medical nurse or doctor.

    On Twitter I watch Prime Minister Scott Morrison trying desperately to convince your Parliament that sick people are a threat to your national security, while many men here become permanently disabled or need extensive medical and psychiatric care to ever get better.

    I really miss my family so much, no words can describe my feelinsg at the moment. My hopes and my future depends on the lives of the men on Manus.

    We will watch Parliament together next week and I look forward to the day we can meet somewhere when I am free.

    Yours in hope,

    Abdul Aziz Adam

    Human rights activist detained indefinitely on Manus Island by the Australian government.

    P.S. Tonight I am being interviewed on the Project TV show. Please watch the story.

    P.P.S. Important decisions made in the coming weeks are critical to people seeking asylum – the ASRC will be in touch very soon about how together, we can power this movement forward.

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