Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Australia to reopen island detention camp after refugee bill

Australia to reopen island detention camp after refugee bill

The conditions at these camps have been heavily criticized by human rights groups, and Doctors Without Borders warned late a year ago that about 30 percent of its patients on Nauru had attempted suicide.

Australian security agencies warned in December that if those amendments became law, asylum seekers would likely head to Australia again in significant numbers. Doctors would be able to issue these referrals based on their own assessment of whether a patient's life was at risk, and of whether the patient was receiving inadequate care on the islands.

Protesters marched along Sydney streets to demand all asylum seekers and refugees be brought to Australia, in Sydney, Australia, August 27, 2016.

"Last night was not about an election - last night was about the simple proposition that Australia is strong enough to treat people humanely", he told reporters at Parliament House.

'Under Labor's law, a person who has been convicted of serious offences would have to come to Australia and there is nothing the minister could do to stop it, ' he said.

While opposition leader Bill Shorten has voiced support for the bill, the government has been advised the move would undermine the security of Australia's borders.

Meanwhile, Labor is aiming to ramp up penalties against bankers and financial institutions who break the law.

When the sitting government last lost a vote on substantive legislation in 1929, then prime minister Stanley Bruce immediately called an election, and lost it. The government had similarly made the offer only available to refugees on the islands at the time to avoid attracting new asylum seekers, Shorten said. "The fact of the matter is this bill is about providing treatment to sick people", Shorten told Parliament.

"Thank you to all of the many people who contributed to this remarkable community campaign", she wrote on social media.

"It should never have had to come to this point, but it is evident this bill was urgently needed to force action", lawyer Jennifer Kanis said in a statement.

Last year, Australians were horrified by reports of a mental health crisis among children on Nauru - including cases of attempted suicide.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton took a swing, too.

Furious at Labor for insisting on the changes, the government is now preparing for an election fight on border protection by claiming Mr Shorten would dismantle offshore processing and allow more asylum seekers to arrive by boat.

Speaking before the vote, Morrison said that the changes would encourage people-smugglers and provoke a new flow of arrivals.

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