SUBJECTS: Medevac Legislation.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE, HOST: Federal Parliament resumes this morning for the final sitting week of the year and it is shaping as a difficult one for the Prime Minister. Independent Senator, Jacqui Lambie, is remaining tight lipped on what it will take to secure her support for the repeal of the Medevac laws. She sighted national security concerns as the reasons for keeping negotiations with the government secret.
DAVID KOCH, HOST: For more, we are joined with Labor Frontbencher, Joel Fitzgibbon, and Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce. Joel, first you, Jacqui Lambie holds a critical vote on the repeal of Medevac. She keeps talking about national security concerns, is that legitimate?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Look, I believe that Jacqui will make her decision based on the merits of the Bill, as she did on the union bashing Bill, as did Pauline Hanson, and that’s all we can hope for them to do. I know that she is thinking about this deeply and I am very hopeful that in the end she will come to the right conclusion, and of course the conclusion is, the right conclusion is, that if people need medical assistance they should be able to secure medical assistance and nothing in the Medevac legislation prevents Peter Dutton from denying entry on national security grounds.
AMRYTAGE: Ok, Barnaby, Jacqui Lambie is going to meet with the PM today, does Scott Morrison have much room – much wiggle room – on this one you reckon?
BARNABY JOYCE, MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND: I think it just has to stand on the facts; 179 people have now come into Australia under these Medevac law. Many of them would not be accepted into the United States under the agreement between Obama and Australia which was made. What we also see is one person who’s coming into Australia, or is already here in reports today, 70 incidents of arson and property damage on Manus, was watching online people – women being executed. If you want to bring those people into Australia, sure knock yourself out, but I think it is a very poor move. What we have to do is make sure that it is absolutely, without dispute, that if you don’t follow the appropriate channels of coming into our nation as a refugee, which we do all the time, then you are not going to find a back door by going to Manus, going to Naura and saying now I want to be evacuated into Australia. We can’t let that happen; prima facie people will say that’s a bit hard. It has to be because otherwise we go back to the 50,000 people who made their way into this nation, or a portion thereof, and the people who drowned in the process of doing that, and also of the process of paying basically criminals of going through the process of assisting people or moving people into Australia. They are not stupid; if they are brave enough to get $10,000 and complicit enough to work with people to get them into a position where they can come to Australia, then they are smart enough to work out how to deal with the system to take them that next step. Now we have already had 50 people – I think it’s 50 people – we can’t get into the United States because of this. We’ve got to be really sharp and understand, be succinct, be hard, or the problems are going to start again.
KOCH: Joel, you’re shaking your head.
FITZGIBBON: Well, it’s just a load of rubbish, Kochie. A complete…
JOYCE: Which part, Joel?
FITZGIBBON: … load of rubbish. Peter Dutton maintains the right under the current Medevac legislation to deny anyone entry into this country on national security grounds. The change is this: prior to the Medevac, if you were sick, and the security agencies deemed you not a threat, then Peter Dutton decided whether you were sick or not. Under these laws, if the national security agencies deem you not to be not to be a threat, an independent medical panel decides whether you are sick. That is the only change, and everything else Barnaby Joyce just said is absolute hogwash.
JOYCE: Ok, I will take you up on that. Do you deny that 179 have come into Australia, or do you believe that is the truth?
FITZGIBBON: I believe less are coming into Australia actually, Barnaby, under the Medevac laws than was previously the case when Peter Dutton was making the decisions.
JOYCE: Joel, you just said everything I said was rubbish. So, do you believe 179 people came into Australia or not?
FITZGIBBON: The rate of entry – the rate of entry into Australia… it’s around that figure and it’s less than what was coming in when Peter Dutton was the arbiter on the health.
JOYCE: Oh so what I said wasn’t rubbish? So what I said wasn’t rubbish Joel?
FITZGIBBON: On that point, Barnaby may be right. But all this talk about people flowing into the country… *inaudible*
JOYCE: You’ve got to say things that are factual… *inaudible*
KOCH: I think we have both views here, appreciate your time this morning, have a good week.