Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reportedly ready to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees housed on Nauru, provided parliament agrees to a “lifetime ban” on them ever entering Australia.
Under a proposed bill, any refugee settled in a third country would be banned from entering Australia even under a tourist or business visa. The legislation has been stuck since November 2016.
Under proposed laws being refloated by the government, any refugee settled in a third country would be banned from entering Australia, even under a tourist or business visa.
The bill has been stuck in parliament since November 2016.
“That’s the government’s bill and it’s not supported by the crossbenchers, it’s not supported by the Labor Party, or the Greens,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
Independent senators have now asked for an urgent briefing on the bill.
“I’m wondering what’s taken two years to request one,” Mr Morrison said.
The ban would prevent refugees who came by boat and settled in New Zealand from ending up in Australia.
Mr Morrison is talking down the prospects of putting the bill to the vote this week.
“There is no support for that bill at present,” he said.
The development comes as Labor drafts legislation in response to growing concerns by Australian doctors about the care provided to children and their families on Nauru.
The doctors want to speed up medical transfers of sick children to Australia.
Three Liberal MPs have also taken the extraordinary step of demanding the Prime Minister remove children off the Pacific island, citing serious fears for their health.
Backbenchers Russell Broadbent and Craig Laundy last month asked Scott Morrison to evacuate all of the children and their families from Nauru, the ABC reported.
The ABC reported Tuesday the Government MPs proposed moving children with the most severe illnesses as a matter of priority before transferring other children.
Liberal Member for Chisholm, Julia Banks, also thinks the situation on Nauru has reached a “tipping point” and the Australian Government should change its approach, the ABC reported.
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders last week called for the immediate evacuation of all asylum seekers and refugees from the island.
“Five years of indefinite limbo has led to a radical deterioration of their mental health and wellbeing,” the organisation’s Australian executive director Paul McPhun said.
Mr Morrison on Monday said decisions about medical transfers were made on a case-by-case basis, and defended the medical care provided on Nauru, which is about 3,000 kilometres from the Australian mainland.
“There are 65 health professionals contracted by the Australian Government to provide health services on Nauru, and that includes 33 mental health professionals,” he told Parliament.