Independent Tassie Senator Jacqui Lambie has claimed PM Scott Morrison told her she risked jail time if she spoke about a secret deal for resettling refugees. She’s also said she was told the deal would be scrapped if she spoke out about it.
Lambie famously supported the Federal Government and One Nation’s move to scrap Medevac legislation in 2019.
The Medevac legislation was passed in the Lower House in 2018. It allowed refugees and asylum seekers stuck in the hellish conditions on the off-shore detention centres we put them in to be evacuated to Australia for medical treatment. Seems like the literal bare minimum, bar-below-the-floor, lowest common denominator thing we could offer, right?
But the legislation was effectively killed in the Senate by the Morrison Government (surprise surprise). The Government were supported in the vote by One Nation and Jacqui Lambie.
At the time, Lambie said that she’d struck a deal with the Government about the treatment of refugees but couldn’t say what it was.
“I’m not being coy or silly when I say I genuinely can’t say what I proposed. I know that’s frustrating to people,” she said in Senate.
“And I get that. I don’t like holding things back like this. But when I say I can’t discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100 per cent honest to you.”
That’s because on Thursday, the Government announced that New Zealand would resettle more than 400 refugees and asylum seekers.
New Zealand first offered to do this nine years ago. The fact it’s taken nine years is frankly embarrassing. But it’s not a surprise given our horrific treatment of refugees.
Part of Lambie’s deal back in 2019 apparently involved Scott Morrison agreeing to a New Zealand resettlement plan.
“My demand was to ensure that by the time his term was finished, to make sure that everybody, unless they were a security risk, was off those bloody islands,” Lambie told News.com.au’s political editor Samantha Maiden.
“I couldn’t tell the story of what had happened because otherwise the deal’s off. That means that people would have been still stuck there.”
Lambie told News that the deal involved her support for scrapping Medevac laws. In exchange, the government allegedly agreed to remove asylum seekers held on Manus Island.
Once again, pretty fucked that we’re playing political football with real people’s lives. Especially when none of those people should be held in detention in the first place.
Perhaps one of the wildest bits of info in the interview is Jacqui Lambie’s claim that she was told she could be jailed if she revealed the deal’s deets.
“If I’d come out and spoken about it, I may have ended up in jail, basically,” she said.
When she was asked who told her that, Lambie said “that was made to me over the table from the PM”.
“I felt really annoyed by that. I thought that [was] quite threatening. I was not happy about it,” Lambie said.
“That’s why I kept saying if I say anything I come out in handcuffs. I am rapt these people are free. It’s such a relief.”
I was told that talking about the deal would kill the deal.
If I talked, they would suffer. I just couldn’t do it to them. https://t.co/HsQQedRCxB
— Jacqui Lambie (@JacquiLambie) March 24, 2022
According to The Guardian, government sources said Lambie’s claims she’d been threatened with jail were incorrect. The PM’s office also hasn’t commented on the interview yet.
Jacqui Lambie had previously told the ABC’s 7.30 that she’d reveal the deets of the deal if Morrison failed to act.
“If the Prime Minister doesn’t do it, I will,” she said in 2020.
“So he can go and threaten me with jail or whatever he likes on a piece of paper. I don’t care.
“But if he doesn’t tell you by the end of the year, I will. How’s that for you, right? He’s had long enough.”
Two years later but there we go.