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Call on Labor to #BacktheBill

Tomorrow, Parliament will vote on the Urgent Medical Transfer Bill put forward by the crossbench to make sure people detained on Manus and Nauru can get the critical medical care they need.

Prime Minister Morrison has announced a sham medical process that would leave the Immigration Minister – not medical professionals – in charge of deciding who can get medical treatment in Australia.1 It's a cheap move designed to undercut the crossbenchers' bill – and with a vote this close, we need to make sure Labor stays strong.

Together, we need to urgently flood the offices of Labor MPs with calls for them to #BackTheBill. Can you pick up the phone right now and call Labor to stay strong?

Not sure what to say? Here's a handy guide:

Keep it short and simple:
  • Introduce yourself and if you're a constituent - mention it!
  • Say the process for transferring sick people out of offshore detention is broken.
  • Say we need new legislation to urgently transfer ill people out of Nauru and Manus, and to ensure decisions about medical transfers and treatment are based on the advice of doctors, not bureaucrats.
  • Ask Bill Shorten and Labor to stay strong and support the Crossbench's Urgent Medical Treatment bill when it goes to a vote on Tuesday.
  • That's it!
  • There is an urgent medical crisis on Manus Island and Nauru and the situation has reached breaking point.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International, UNHCR and more than 6,000 doctors have called on the Government to evacuate sick people in offshore detention to Australia for treatment.2,3,4,5
  • The current process for transferring sick people out of offshore detention is broken.
  • Not only is there a secret committee overriding doctors' advice on medical transfers, the Government has also repeatedly refused these requests and attempted to block medical transfers in court.6,7
  • The Urgent Medical Treatment bill is being introduced to address this medical crisis, and ensure a fast-tracked and rigorous process for sick people in desperate need of medical treatment, based on the advice of medical professionals not bureaucrats.

References
[1] 'PM bows to pressure over refugee medical transfers', The Australian, 4 February 2019.
[2] 'Nauru in the grip of a mental health crisis, MSF report reveals', The Guardian, 3 December 2018.
[3] 'Amnesty report warning on Manus Island', SBS, 21 November 2018.
[4] 'UN: 'health crisis' demands closure of Australia's offshore detention centres', The Guardian, 13 October 2018.
[5] 'Almost 6,000 doctors sign letter to PM demanding children be taken off Nauru', The Guardian, 15 October 2018.
[6] 'The secret committee determining medical transfers from Nauru and Manus Island', The Guardian, 4 December 2018.
[7] 'Australia spent $275,000 fighting requests for urgent medical transfers of asylum seekers', The Guardian, 29 September 2018.

  • This week, the Morrison Government announced it would introduce an "independent medical review panel to vet asylum-seeker transfers".8
  • However, this process still puts the first decision about urgent medical treatment in the hands of bureaucrats, not medical professionals. The Medical Transfer Clinical Assurance Panel will be hand-picked by the Minister, with no assurances as to the independence of its members.
  • Also, under the Government's proposal the Minister still has the ultimate say. This is the same Minister under whose watch, saw 12 people die in offshore detention and repeated blocking of any requests to transfer critically ill patients, including children.
  • Doctors need to be front and centre of every decision - which is what is being proposed by the Urgent Medical Treatment Bill.

References
[8] 'PM bows to pressure over refugee medical transfers', The Australian, 4 February 2019.

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