The Kaldor Centre is disappointed at today’s repeal of two important measures: the ‘medevac’ framework that provided an avenue for sick people to be brought to Australia from Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG) for urgent medical or psychiatric treatment or assessment, and the monitoring and oversight functions of the Independent Health Advice Panel (IHAP).
As the Kaldor Centre submitted to the Senate, medevac was a necessary, reasonable and appropriate measure that helped the Australian Government in meeting its duty of care with respect to the health and well-being of people transferred offshore pursuant to ‘regional processing’ arrangements.
The repeal of medevac and the IHAP in no way extinguishes Australia’s duty of care. Doctors, lawyers, and other advocates will continue to work to ensure those who are in need of care will receive it.
Under both international and domestic law, Australia has a duty of care with respect to the health and well-being of people transferred offshore to Nauru and PNG. The medevac system assisted the Government meet this duty of care, by ensuring that there was a clear, transparent and effective process for people in need of transfer to be brought to the attention of the Minister, and for urgent medical decisions to be made by people with the requisite qualifications and expertise, within appropriate clinical timeframes. It minimised the risks of delay, uncertainty, and politicisation of medical decisions. It was a measure designed to save lives, and did so without compromising the ultimate power of the Minister to exclude any person who he or she deems to be a safety or security risk to the Australian public.