Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has ruled out transferring a group of pregnant asylum seekers from Nauru to Australia, despite the women reportedly refusing medical treatment.
It is understood that seven pregnant asylum seekers are refusing medical treatment on the island as they urge the Turnbull government to bring them to Australia.
Mr Dutton said Australia helped pay for refurbishments at the Nauru hospital but he would not agree to transfer the women, telling 2GB the Government would not “be taken for mugs”.
“The racket that’s been going here is that people at the margins come to Australia from Nauru,” he said.
“We can’t send them back to Nauru and there are over 200 people in that category.”
Mr Dutton said the government had provided $11 million for a hospital within the regional processing centre as well as $26 million to help refurbish the Nauruan hospital.
He said transfers to the international hospital in Papua New Guinea were also available if sufficient treatment on Nauru was not available.
“If people believe that they’re going to somehow try to blackmail us into an outcome to come to Australia by saying we’re not going to have medical assistance…We’re not going to bend to that pressure,” he added.
“I believe very strongly that we need to take a firm stance.”
Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition voiced concerns for the women, stating that Nauru was not equipped to deal with complicated births.
“One of the asylum seeker women due to give birth has a diabetic pregnancy that Nauru cannot safely manage,” he said in a statement.
“Every birth is a potentially a life-threatening situation for mother and baby. When there are complications the risk is even higher.
“The onus is on the government to provide proper medical care for a safe birth.”
Mr Dutton’s comments come a day after he introduced legislation to tighten requirements for asylum seekers applying for protection.
If passed, he said the existence of a consistent pattern of mass violation of human rights would not meet the threshold.
People will also be denied protection if they could “take reasonable steps” to modify their behaviour, unless that behaviour was “fundamental” to their identity.