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Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Page: 4984


Senator KENEALLY (New South WalesDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (11:11): I move Labor amendment (1) on sheet 8856:

(1) Schedule 1, item 15, page 5 (lines 11 to 29), omit the item, substitute:

15 Continued application of old law

(1) This item applies in relation to a transitory person if, immediately before this item's commencement, any of the following had occurred:

(a) a decision had been made by the Minister in relation to the person under section 198D, 198E, 198F or 198G of the old law;

(b) the Secretary had identified the person as a legacy minor under section 198D of the old law but had not notified the Minister;

(c) the Secretary had been notified about the person under section 198E of the old law but had not notified the Minister;

(d) the Minister had been notified about the person under section 198D or 198E of the old law but had not made a decision about the person;

(e) the Independent Health Advice Panel (the panel) had been notified by the Minister about the person under section 198F of the old law but the panel had not informed the Minister of its recommendation in relation to the person;

(f) the Minister had been informed by the panel about the person under section 198F of the old law but the Minister had not made a decision about the person;

(g) the Minister had been informed by an officer about the person under section 198G of the old law but the Minister had not made a decision about the person.

(2) Despite the amendments and repeals made by this Schedule, the old law continues to apply, in relation to the transitory person, as if those amendments and repeals had not been made.

(3) The old law is the Migration Act 1958 as in force immediately before this item's commencement.

(4) To avoid doubt, this item does not affect the operation of subsection 7(2) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.

These are important amendments—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Keneally, there is no opportunity for debate here other than by leave.

Senator KENEALLY: I seek leave to make a statement of no longer than five minutes.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for three minutes.

Senator KENEALLY: These are important amendments. These are amendments that would ensure a savings provision of sorts for people who have already applied for a medevac transfer—that is, sick people on Manus and Nauru who have already applied for the medevac assessment and who are already in the medevac assessment process. They would be saved by this provision that would allow them to complete that. If they are assessed by doctors—doctors appointed by Minister Dutton, by the way—to need medical treatment, they will be able to access it through the medevac process. If this government is so intent on repealing medevac, surely it can. Surely there are some members of the government backbench who have some semblance of a beating heart to understand that if a person is sick they should be able to get medical treatment. Those people who are already in the assessment process should be able to complete it.

These are fundamentally important amendments. It is clear that the indefinite nature of detention has meant that people's physical and mental health has deteriorated substantially. There are sick people on Manus and Nauru. That is undeniable. What is also undeniable is that this government has gone to court to block them from getting medical treatment. That is why medevac was necessary. This government, under their secret deal with Jacqui Lambie—or is it not a deal? Minister Cormann says there is no deal. Senator Lambie says there is a deal. They have refused to lay any details on the table. We have cabinet ministers who are in the dark. We have government backbenchers sitting over there in the dark. We have the Australian public in the dark. Understand this: this is not just some deal. They are changing Australian government policy when it comes to the provision of services to people on Manus and Nauru, when it comes, potentially, to our relationship with our partner and ally New Zealand and when it comes to how we disrupt people-smuggling operations.

This government talks about the need to send the right messages to people smugglers. What are they doing today? They are sending a big, blank cheque. They have a secret deal that might actually make it easier for the people smugglers to market now, right? 'Hey, the Australian government's done a secret deal with Jacqui Lambie. We can't tell you what it is, but it probably makes life easier for us to transfer people here.' That is what this government resorts to, right? They often tell us we have to be careful of the messages we send. They're changing government policy. They're not telling us. They're not telling the Australian public. They're not telling anyone what it entails. At the basic minimum, they should preserve medevac for those people who are sick and need treatment.