The Australian Government may have lost its bid to block Labor’s refugee medical transfer bill – but the Shoalhaven is unlikely to see any refugees, for medical reasons or otherwise.
The NSW Government’s Refugee Settlement Initiative says the federal government decides where refugees are settled – and that none of the chosen locations are in the Shoalhaven.
“The settlement locations in NSW are Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Armidale, Wagga Wagga and Albury,” they said.
John Brentnall, of Nowra advocacy group #StoptheShame, said he welcomed the news the bill had passed – and would also welcome refugees if the opportunity arose.
“It’s wonderful news,” he said.
“It’s long past time that Australia began to treat refugees and asylum seekers with dignity and respect ... and it’s way past time that people who need a doctor are allowed treatment for their medical conditions – many of which have been caused by being locked up in these inhumane conditions.
“People say to us, ‘how about you take them into your home’ – I think all the people in our group would say yes if that opportunity came. I think a number of people in the Shoalhaven would have that attitude of welcoming people in need.”
The refugee medical transfer bill proposes a panel of two doctors asses requests for medical transfers of people currently held on Manus and Nauru.
The Home Affairs Minister would have 72 hours to agree or disagree with their recommendations – the minister could reject a transfer on national security grounds, or if the patient has a significant criminal record.
If the minister rejected the request for another reason, the decision is referred to an Independent Health Advice Panel of eight. The panel will not be paid.