News National Syria may sway Jacqui Lambie vote on refugee laws

Syria may sway Jacqui Lambie vote on refugee laws

Jacqui Lambie qanda
Crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie will not say which way she will vote on so-called medevac laws, when the legislation comes to a vote next month. Photo: ABC
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Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has indicated the situation in Syria could sway her vote on medical evacuation laws.

The Morrison government is trying to scrap legislation that speeds up the transfer of sick refugees in offshore detention to Australia for medical treatment.

Senator Lambie is likely to cast the deciding vote when the repeal bill comes up for debate in November.

The crossbencher is waiting to read a Senate committee report on the laws later this week before making a final decision.

“I have been watching the submissions come in … I’m not going home for the weekend, so there’ll be phone calls made,” she told ABC News on Tuesday.

“I’ll be up here and I’ll be going through that report.”

The so-called medevac laws only apply to asylum seekers and refugees currently being held in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

The regime will not apply to any future arrivals to the offshore processing centres.

Even still, Senator Lambie said she needed to weigh the national security implications of keeping the scheme in place.

“Especially with the tempo that’s happening in the Middle East in the last four or five days,” she said.

The military conflict in Syria has ratcheted up significantly in recent days.

The Syrian army is deploying forces along the country’s northern border to try and halt Turkey’s offensive, after striking an agreement with the region’s Kurdish-led administration.

Dozens of civilians and fighters have been killed on both sides, while tens of thousands of people have been driven from their homes.

Senator Lambie is concerned the medevac scheme may send a signal to people smugglers and set off a “domino effect” of boat arrivals.

“Word doesn’t always get back to people in … war zones not to get on boats because you won’t be allowed in Australia,” she said.

The medevac laws, which were enacted against the Coalition government’s wishes earlier this year, gave clinicians a greater say in the medical transfers of asylum seekers.

The bill created a specialist medical panel to approve evacuations on advice from doctors rather than government officials.

The government can still refuse transfers on national security grounds.