Trapped – refugees in the Nauru detention centre have again had their health care needs’ assessment ultimately placed in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats rather than doctors following the repeal of the Medevac Bill in the Australian federal parliament.
Trapped – refugees in the Nauru detention centre have again had their health care needs’ assessment ultimately placed in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats rather than doctors following the repeal of the Medevac Bill in the Australian federal parliament.

ScoMo saves Christmas

OPINION:

IT is to Australia’s enduring shame that the lives, health and future of people in our care continue to be used for purely political purpose.

The individual suffering that been caused to those that have reached out their hands to us for help may be beyond the comprehension of so-called quiet Australians who remain undisturbed in the privileged bubble of their own existence.

But what we have allowed to happen has been callous, costly and thoroughly at odds with values we declare common to our national character.

The fear politicians have been able to whip up about the threat the desperate and bedraggled are supposed to present to our sovereignty, has smoke screened genuine issues in need of debate like the Ponzi scheme of third-world immigration levels used to prop up a directionless economy.

The exercise in bastardry has continued without relent since that most vicious of political animals John Howard in October 2001 unleashed with the Children Overboard nonsense, the suppressed racism that still lingers as an unresolved stain.

This week, desperate for some sort of win to end a forlorn pre-Christmas session which has seen Australia’s greatest ad man not even able to sell One Nation the benefits of its thuggery against unionised Australian workers, the Federal Morrison Government again drove the knife into the weakest within reach.

The repeal of the Medevac Bill which allowed – on the assessment of doctors – for refugees on Nauru and in the twilight zone of non-detention, no-escape Manus Island to come to Australia for medical treatment, has condemned more poor souls to death.

I don’t care how it is represented, be that as a deal or a proposal or whatever, the arrangements that led to Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie’s support for ScoMo’s cruel election promise takes the determination of the healthcare needs of people under our control out of the hands of doctors and places it in those of bureaucrats and politicians.

It’s irrelevant whether the individual concerned is a security threat.

If deemed so, surely the appropriate measures could be brought to bear.

It should be unacceptable to anyone, quiet Australian or not, to let persons under our care and control die for wont of appropriate treatment.

The numbers don’t lie.

Prior to the Medevac Bill, 12 people died in detention. Since its implementation that number has dropped to zero.

It is more likely that Senator Lambie has been hoodwinked rather than bought.

But if she was truly happy with the deal-arrangement-proposal or whatever she and the government have come to, her justification for it would not have been the tearful and incomprehensible mess she delivered to the Australian people.

Health Ministers may, as she said, make policy but the primary care and needs’ assessment of sick people should be solely in the hands of doctors.

Thousands of those across the profession spoke out in support of the Medevac Bill.

It’s the advice they provided that deserved the attention of a truly compassionate Australia, not the dog-whistling opportunism of those happy to govern on the margins as long as they have control.

Sunshine Coast University Hospital all up cost about $2.8 billion and took decades to deliver.

The much-needed Mooloolah River interchange is, despite promises, yet to turn earth and is not likely to do so in the next decade. The common-sense solution to the Bruce Highway chaos offered by the dual-line fast passenger and freight rail to Brisbane is $250 million odd short of construction of at least a pared back piece of critical infrastructure.

The now well overdue duplication of the Sunshine Motorway north from Pacific Paradise to Noosa has been simply ignored as an infrastructure priority to service existing need.

Yet the cruelty of harvesting votes through fear and the priorities of wedge politics have seen – based on annual budgets and Refugee Action Council analysis – some $9.6 billion plus spent on federal government refugee deterrence policies in the four years from 2013-16 alone.

And no, that level of expenditure the equivalent of which could have built nearly four SCUH’s or delivered a myriad of other infrastructure has not bought those in our off-shore “care” a luxury island holiday resort as the most cynical of politicians have suggested.

Nor has it delivered them the basics of secure accommodation and first-world health care.

No, most of it has disappeared as profit into the pockets of Cayman Island-listed companies afforded little oversight and been squandered for political purposes like reopening and staffing Christmas Island for an election-campaign photo opportunity.

Well done Australia, out of sight, out of mind except of course at election time.

I hope, despite the horrific monetary and human cost, we now can all sit feeling comfortable and secure at our Christmas tables.