Shorten bites back over refugee jibe

The West Australian - - NEWS - Phoebe Wearne Can­berra

Bill Shorten has re­jected as “rub­bish” Scott Mor­ri­son’s claim that his sup­port for med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions from Nauru means La­bor has soft­ened on border pro­tec­tion.

But the Prime Minister dou­bled down yesterday as he emerged from the wreck­age of a tor­rid fi­nal sit­ting day in Par­lia­ment, say­ing the ALP had shown its “true colours” on asy­lum seek­ers by at­tempt­ing to turn off­shore pro­cess­ing into a “tran­sit lounge”.

“La­bor and the Greens com­bined to­gether in the Se­nate to vote to abol­ish off-shore pro­cess­ing as we know it,” Mr Mor­ri­son said. “That would be a great risk to Aus­tralia’s bor­ders.”

The push by the Op­po­si­tion, Greens and cross­bench MPs to man­date med­i­cal trans­fers from off­shore de­ten­tion did not make it through the Lower House be­fore it rose for the Christ­mas break.

But the Gov­ern­ment still faces the prospect of a his­toric de­feat in Fe­bru­ary, if the par­lia­men­tary num­bers hold for al­ter­ing the way Aus­tralia treats sick refugees on Nauru and Manus Is­land.

Mr Mor­ri­son in­sists that the changes, which stipulate a med­i­cal trans­fer to Aus­tralia should oc­cur if two doc­tors agree it is nec­es­sary, amount to “wa­ter­ing down” the na­tion’s border pro­tec­tion poli­cies. Mr Shorten de­nies this.

“If Mr Mor­ri­son is try­ing to ar­gue that the only way you have bor­ders, pro­tec­tions, is not to pro­vide timely med­i­cal treat­ment to some asy­lum seek­ers on Manus and Nauru, that’s rub­bish,” Mr Shorten said.

“It is not an au­to­matic cor­re­la­tion, that you can only de­ter peo­ple smug­glers by keep­ing peo­ple in in­def­i­nite de­ten­tion.

“That is not the Aus­tralian way.” Less than 10 chil­dren re­main on Nauru, ac­cord­ing to Mr Mor­ri­son, who pre­dicted there would only be “about six” on the tiny Pa­cific is­land in the weeks ahead.

He said all the chil­dren who had med­i­cal is­sues had been trans­ferred, with 100 com­ing off Nauru in the past three months.

Pic­ture: AAP

Bill Shorten says he’s not soft on border pro­tec­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.