Media Release

Phelps Asylum Seeker Bill Means End To Offshore Processing

The Australian Christian Lobby calls on Labor and the crossbench to cautiously consider the Phelps medivac bill allowing two doctors to recommend medical transfer to Australia for asylum seekers. 

Managing director Martyn Iles said, “Prime Minister Scott Morrison made it clear in his address at the Press Club on Monday if the bill goes through as is it will essentially spell the end to offshore processing.”

“The bill claims to solve a humanitarian crisis that does not exist given the reasonable conditions on Manus and Nauru, but does risk creating a crisis of its own by enticing new boat arrivals.” 

The Department of Home Affairs has already warned that most of the 1000 asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island would be in contact with doctors willing to recommend transfer to Australia within weeks of the Phelps bill becoming legislation.  

“If two doctors are given the power to recommend asylum seekers be transferred to Australia for medical treatment you can guarantee activists doctors will take full advantage of such an amendment,” warned Mr Iles. 

“Reducing the numbers on Nauru and Manus must be done, but it must be in a cautious and measured way that accords with best available advice on the wisest approach to border protection.” 

“There is no humanitarian crisis on Nauru or Manus Island. Despite activist rhetoric, asylum seekers are well accommodated, relatively free, and provided with healthcare. They also have resettlement options available to them,” said Mr Iles. 

“Considering the tragedy of deaths at sea and the very real concern people smugglers pose it is wise to maintain the current border protection strategy which allows for strong border security as well as safe processing of asylum seekers.” 

The Australian Christian Lobby continues to support a generous refugee program as the proper way to help the world’s most needy displaced persons.

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