Chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Refugee Health Network Dr Kate Walker has urgently called on the Government to accept New Zealand’s offer of refugee settlement.
Yesterday’s repeal of the medevac legislation, which was heavily criticised by the RACGP and other medical groups, means that the resettlement offer takes on even greater urgency.
Dr Walker said that the Government should take the deal.
“Yesterday’s vote was a dark day for patient health. However, instead of dwelling on the repeal of the medevac legislation we need to focus on what we can do now.
“If the patients on Papua New Guinea and Nauru are transferred to New Zealand for permanent settlement they will enjoy a world class health system just like ours.”
She said that shirking responsibilities to asylum seekers and refugees was not an option.
“12 refugees and asylum seekers died in offshore processing in the five years prior to medevac and not a single person died after the laws were put in place last year.
“So clearly the scheme was working and the reason so many people in the medical community have been advocating on this issue was because it made perfect sense.
“Now that medevac has been scrapped we must focus on ensuring the health and safety of those who remain in off shore processing. We still have a duty of care.
“The New Zealand Prime Minister has confirmed this morning that their resettlement offer is still on the table.
“It is not too late, so if the Federal Government is serious about the long term health and safety of these people they will make it happen.”