Modern Australian



Crossbenchers must decide between something or nothing on medical transfers bill

  • Written by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The fate of the legislation facilitating medical evacuations from Manus and Nauru depends on the response of the crossbenchers to compromise amendments Labor is putting to them ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

The bill, passed last year by the Senate with ALP support, provides for transfers on the recommendations of two doctors.

If the minister opposed the transfer, the final say on medical grounds would be in the hands of a medical panel. The minister could only override on security grounds.

After Bill Shorten was briefed on Monday by security officials and with enormous political pressure coming from the government, Labor moved back from its support of the bill as it has come out of the Senate.

Read more: Labor leads 53-47% in Newspoll as Shorten struggles with medical transfer bill

The opposition is negotiating with crossbenchers on the basis of three principles. These would:

  • widen the scope a minister would have to reject a medical transfer

The bill defines security in terms of the ASIO act, which focuses on national security. Labor now proposes this ministerial discretion should be extended to include aspects of the “character” test, which would allow the minister to exclude people who had committed serious crimes.

  • extend the time the minister would have to make a decision

The bill says 24 hours but Labor now accepts this is too short.

  • provide that the legislation would apply only to the present cohort on Nauru and Manus, to avoid it having a “pull” effect and encouraging boats to resume.

For the bill to pass the House of Representatives in this amended form, the support of six of the seven crossbenchers would be needed.

The crossbenchers, who were waiting late Monday night to see the precise wording of the amendments, will be faced with the choice of backing compromises some will think go too far or getting no change at all.

The negotiating points were agreed to by shadow cabinet and ticked off by caucus on Monday night. The results of the negotiations are to go back to a caucus committee.

The bill comes to the House on Tuesday from the Senate – its fate will be determined during the day’s sitting.

Shorten has been caught every which way in the last few days. The government, in a minority and fighting to avoid a defeat in the House, has nevertheless been able to turn the issue back on Labor by launching a big scare campaign.

There has been internal division in Labor ranks, between those who fear the issue could play badly for the opposition in the run up to the election and others, particularly on the left, who insist the ALP should do the right thing by the refugees and asylum seekers.

Left wingers have also warned that the Labor base would react badly if the opposition walked away from the legislation.

One caucus member told the caucus meeting it was important that the bill be passed this week.

Another said the principles of the bill as passed by the Senate should not be changed – and the negotiating points did not change those principles.

There was concern that any longer time given to the minister should be finite.

Scott Morrison reiterated the government’s total opposition to the bill, even if that meant a defeat in the House.

He told the National Press Club the test in parliament this week was

not who wins or loses a vote - the only test is, will Bill Shorten cave in and undermine our border protection by passing this bill in any form? If he does, Australians [will] have only been able to confirm what they already know about him.

Read more: Morrison promises $78 million for combatting domestic violence

Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Read more http://theconversation.com/crossbenchers-must-decide-between-something-or-nothing-on-medical-transfers-bill-111551

NEWS

Honest brokers. Why mortgage broker commissions aren't the problem

Most mortgage brokers provide good service.ShutterstockThe Hayne Royal Commission began and ended with strident criticism of the mortgage broking industry. It recommended brokers be required to act in the “best...

Super-recognisers accurately pick out a face in a crowd – but can this skill be taught?

One of these people is on a wanted list for theft. A super-recogniser may pick them at a glance. from www.shutterstock.comYenny is 26 years old, lives in Melbourne, and has...

how does a vasectomy work and can it be reversed?

Men who don't want any more kids will often choose to have a vasectomy.From shutterstock.comSome men may shudder at the thought of “the snip”. But vasectomies are a safe and...

As Australia's soft power in the Pacific fades, China's voice gets louder

China is broadcasting to more than 1 billion people in several different languages, while Australia sits on its soft power reviews.Screenshot/YouTubeThis week, Department of Communications and Arts secretary Mike Mrdak...

Maria Sibylla Merian, 17th-century entomologist and scientific adventurer

A colour portrait of Maria Sibylla Merian by Dutch artist Jacobus Houbraken, circa 1700.Wikimedia CommonsIn this series, we look at under-acknowledged women through the ages.Most school kids can describe in...

this is what residents have to say about life on the urban fringe

Residents of the outer suburbs like the green spaces and sense of community, but lament the lack of access to transport and other services. theskaman306/ShutterstockRecent studies show Melbourne’s and Sydney’s...

Huawei or the highway? The rising costs of New Zealand's relationship with China

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meeting with the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang during last year's ASEAN summit.AAP Image/Mick Tsikas, CC...

Why schools desperately need a royal commission into the abuse of disabled people

We need to listen to people with disabilities when they tell us their stories.www.shutterstock.comOn Monday, the federal parliament agreed on a motion to support a royal commission into the abuse...

Regional Australia is calling the shots now more than ever

Regional Australia is no longer a desolate place when it comes to parliamentary representation.from shutterstock.comGovernments change priorities all the time. Some argue governments will focus on developing regional areas at...

We don't yet fully understand what mindfulness is, but this is what it's not

Mindfulness can refer to a specific set of meditation practices, but its precise definition isn't clear.From shutterstock.comLast night’s episode of ABC’s Catalyst, “The Mindfulness Experiment”, offered a unique glimpse into...

Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art is an exercise in spectacle

Song dynasty 960–1279 Feng Dayou (active mid 12th century) 'Taiye lotus pond', album leaf, colours on silk 23.8 x 25.1 cm. National Palace Museum, Taipei Photo: © National Palace Museum, TaipeiReview: Heaven...

are robots smarter than humans?

Some computers are extremely powerful and can do things better than humans.Poppy/flickr, CC BY-SACurious Kids is a series for children. If you have a question you’d like an expert to...

Popular articles from Modern Australian

Tips for remodeling your basement into pleasant living spaceThe Reason Why You Were Rejected as a Hair Transplant PatientLeconfield Wines: Four legged family members now part of many weddingsModern magnesium: the pharmaceutical-grade topical relief health productWhy you should hire equipment for your next party or eventLiving life without fearFive Trends That Will Transform Beauty Moving home is always complicated but even more challenging in SydneyWhy Chocolate Can Be Good For YouHow to Choose the Right Wedding SuitTop 5 Non-Surgical Cosmetic Procedures for Men in 20192019’s Unforgettable Valentine’s Day Ideas In SydneyFashion Trends to Know in 2019David Lennon:   Five reasons to get your car loan sorted before visiting a dealership5 Sleep-Friendly Bedroom Tips for Career Women