Australian Lawmakers Back Medical Evacuation for Offshore Detainees

SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian Parliament’s lower house on Tuesday narrowly passed legislation in which might let some asylum seekers being held on remote Pacific islands come to Australia for medical treatment, a blow to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had strongly opposed the measure.

Under Australia’s offshore detention policy, asylum seekers who try to reach the country by boat are barred through ever settling there. About 1,000 migrants intercepted at sea have spent years on the tiny island nation of Nauru or on Manus Island in Papua completely new Guinea, under conditions in which visiting experts have described as dire.

The detention policy has been condemned by the United Nations as well as various human rights groups, as well as Australians who oppose the item celebrated the 75-74 vote inside House of Representatives on Tuesday. The legislation today goes to the Senate, which passed an earlier variation of the item last year.

“the item’s a win before humanity, the item shows what happens when people are put before politics,” said Jana Favero, a director at the Asylum Seeker Resource Center, who supported the bill. She added, “the item’s taken a lot of suffering to get here.”

Mr. Morrison’s center-right governing coalition lost its single-seat majority inside House last year, as well as the vote on Tuesday appeared to be initially since 1941 in which a government had lost a vote on legislation in in which chamber. With elections expected in May, Mr. Morrison’s coalition is actually trailing the opposition Labor Party in most polls.

Medical experts have described the situation for the detainees on Manus as well as Nauru as nearing a crisis point. This particular month, the government said in which all child asylum seekers might leave the detention center in Nauru, after doctors said in which children there were showing signs of extreme withdrawal through reality.

Since 2014, 12 people have died inside offshore detention centers. In 2018, a coroner ruled in which a more timely medical transfer could have prevented the death of Hamid Khazaei, an Iranian asylum seeker detained on Manus, through a leg infection.

yet Mr. Morrison’s government says the detention policy has saved lives by discouraging asylum seekers through trying to make the dangerous sea voyage through Indonesia. Before the policy was introduced in 2013, overcrowded boats often capsized while trying to reach Australia.

“I will not stand here as well as have This particular Parliament give itself an excuse to weaken the borders protection framework in which has saved lives,” Mr. Morrison said in Canberra, the capital, before the vote on Tuesday.