'Secret deal' to repeal medevac, says Penny Wong

'Secret deal' to repeal medevac, says Penny Wong

The prime minister denies doing a deal with independent senator Jacqui Lambie to secure her crucial support.

A Greens senator, Nick McKim, mentioned the vote was "a darkish day for nearly all of Australians who assist the medevac laws".

At the very least, it is our duty as a civilised country to provide the necessary health care for these people when it is unavailable to them in either PNG or Nauru.

Lambie had indicated previously that her vote for the repeal would be conditional on the government meeting a condition which she would not specify.

But she said she could not disclose the details due to national security reasons.

Lambie, who cast the deciding vote, broke down in tears while telling the senate of her decision, insisting that it was a matter of national security. "I know that's frustrating to people", Lambie said. And I get that.

But the government has steadfastly refused to take up the offer, citing national security concerns.

Her condition remains a secret.

"As a result of that work, I am satisfied, I am more than satisfied that the conditions are now in place to allow medevac to be repealed".

"Labor took a decision to weaken our border protection policies and we've taken a decision today to strengthen our border protection policies", he said.

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Ms Lambie argued the law "was not a national security threat", but said it gave too much discretion to doctors.

"If there is a New Zealand deal, then I welcome it, but why the games denying us the right to know?"

"The onus now lies with the Australian Government to resolve this crisis and do the right thing by the hundreds of people who are suffering at their hands".

He said Cormann had "walked over to senator Lambie and said, 'Is it OK if I say there's no deal?' We heard you say it". It was "extremely hard for her. ..."

This morning, the Government hastily called a vote on the amendments, heavily implying that they had *something* to go on, given the bill had otherwise stalled in the Upper House. If the minister sought to refuse a transfer, they were required to do so 72 hours from the doctors' recommendation - so that a patient's treatment would not be delayed by prolonged court cases or bureaucracy (as they had been before Medevac laws).

Labor's leader in the Senate Penny Wong said: "We have cabinet ministers coming in here like lemmings, voting on a legislation based on a deal you haven't seen".

During a fierce senate debate, Christian Senator Kristina Keneally (ALP) reminded senators of the Australian public's support for Medevac laws, saying that 62 per cent were polled as supportive. She said medevac had nothing to do with Operation Sovereign Borders which Labor supported.

"We've worked to an outcome I believe we both want, which is an outcome that our borders are secure, the boats have stopped and sick people aren't dying waiting for treatment", Lambie said.

Since 2013, the nation has sent asylum seekers who arrive by boat to the detention centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

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