A majority of Australian voters back the medevac regime in its current state or believe it should be more compassionate, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll. Source: The Guardian.
The new snapshot of positive voter sentiment, which lands as the critical medevac repeal vote looms in the Senate, has a quarter of the sample saying the medevac procedures do not go far enough in providing humane treatment for people in offshore detention.
Despite the Morrison Government arguing for months that medevac creates national security risks, it appears a number of voters aren’t listening to the rhetoric. In February, only 16 per cent of the sample were of the view the medevac system wasn’t compassionate enough, and that’s now up to 25 per cent.
A further 37 per cent of the sample argue the medevac procedures strike a balance between strong borders and humane treatment for people on Nauru and Manus Island, which is the same result as February. While more than 60 per cent of the sample appear to favour the status quo or something stronger, just under a quarter of the sample (22 per cent) believes the regime weakens Australia’s borders and 17 per cent are unsure.
With federal Parliament now in its final two sitting weeks before the summer break, the Morrison Government has listed medevac repeal for tomorrow in the Senate.
The medevac laws, passed when the Coalition governed in minority last year, allow for Australia-based doctors to recommend a refugee or asylum-seeker offshore be transferred to Australia for care. The minister can refuse if he or she disagrees with the clinical assessment – in which case it goes to the independent medical panel for review – or on security or criminal grounds. The panel cannot override vetoes based on security or criminal concerns.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton want the system gone, and Mr Dutton has been ramping up the negative rhetoric in advance of the decisive vote, but Labor, the Greens, key crossbenchers and most relevant stakeholders, including the medical profession, oppose a repeal of the laws.
The Coalition will only succeed in repealing the regime if it wins backing from the Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who has been running down the clock for months while she deliberates.