We all knew the moment the Parliament passed the so-called ‘medivac’ bill, which makes it far easier for asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to get required medical attention, that the government were going to do their best to turn it into an election cudgel. Maybe some of us assumed they would do this slightly more deftly than straight up lying about it. But that’s the angle they’ve chosen!
Scott Morrison, the prime minister no one asked for who has presented zero compelling reason to anyone why he should be at the levers of power, lashed out against the bill before it was passed, claiming against all evidence that it would enable a flood of rapists and murderers onto the Australian mainland:
They may be a pedophile, they may be a rapist, they may be a murderer, and this bill will mean that we would just have to take them. This is what will happen if Bill Shorten does not put national security ahead of his own political opportunism.
Of course, that isn’t the case. The final medivac bill, with Labor concessions, allows for transfers to be denied on character grounds. Detainees cannot be transferred if they have been sentenced to more than 12 months in jail for a serious offence, if their transfer is deemed not medically necessary, or if the person is subject to an ASIO security assessment. Also, they’re going to the mainland in most if not all cases – they’re going to Christmas Island, which is an Australian territory. Only in cases requiring medical aid which can’t be facilitated there will they make their way to the mainland.
Despite the fact the confected panic about ‘rapists, murderers and pedophiles’ being put to bed by the final bill, they’re still beating that horse.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack – best known for his demented anti-LGBT rants in a newspaper he edited, something which should be a black mark against his name any time it is invoked – appeared on Sky News to address the legislation, and repeated the lie.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) February 13, 2019
“That’s not true, though, Michael McCormack, that rapists, pedophiles and murderers could come here,” Sky News presenter Laura Jayes says to the deputy PM. McCormack claims that a ‘panel’ of those with ‘activist views’ could override security concerns despite being repeatedly corrected by the Sky hosts. Repeatedly. And by the end of the clip, he’s still saying it.
It echoes what Peter Dutton said – using the the ‘rapists and murderers’ messaging – on ABC 7.30 the night the bill passed:
.@PeterDutton_MP: Under the arrangements that Mr Shorten and The Greens passed, we have people that can come to our country from Manus or Nauru. People that have been charged with child sex offences. Child charged or allegations around serious offences including murder. #auspol pic.twitter.com/EeBA4jQ1Ke
— abc730 (@abc730) February 12, 2019
Let’s not mince words here: this is a straight up lie.
The provisions of the final bill make security concerns paramount, meaning it is completely discretionary on the part of the relevant minister and cannot fall into the hands of so-called ‘activist panels’.
We all get that the government’s grip on power is collapsing and they’re lashing out with whatever they’ve got to maintain it. Let’s not let them lie in the process.