'I can't let this happen': Lambi explains medevac decision

AN emotional Jacqui Lambie has explained her decision to back the Federal Government in repealing Medevac laws.

Fighting back tears, the Senator said it had been a difficult decision she had worked out with the Government over the past week.

But she said she could not disclose the details due to national security reasons.

"I know that's frustrating to people. And I get that. I don't like holding things back like this," she said.

"But when I say I can't discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100 per cent honest to you.

"My hand is on my heart and I can stand here and say that I would be putting at risk Australia's national security and national interest if I said anything else about this."

Senator Lambie said the agreement would keep borders secure without allowing sick people to die waiting for treatment.

"To those who say that doctors should make the final call on matters like this, doctors don't make our health policy," she said.

"Medevac lets the doctors make the call and the minister has an incredibly limited ability to overrule it. If you care about the Government being accountable to the people, that should bother you.

"I get that this vote will disappoint many and I apologise for that. This is a matter of conscience.

"I can't let the boats start back up and I can't let refugees die, whether it's sinking into the ocean or waiting for a doctor and I am voting to make sure that neither of these things happen."

The Medevac laws were repealed shortly after 11am this morning, with support from Senator Lambie and One Nation.

Labor's Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keaneally accused the government of doing secret deals.

Opposition Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally says the government has done a secret deal on repealing Medevac laws. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Opposition Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally says the government has done a secret deal on repealing Medevac laws. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

"Without the full details of this secret deal how on earth can Senators have a vote in this debate," she said.

"Will this start the boats again? Will this undermine border security? We simply don't know."

Senior government frontbencher Simon Birmingham said Labor's claims were "completely misleading" and "complete over reach".

"They say without their flawed Medevac laws there is no process for medical practitioners in terms of the transfer of individuals to Australia," he said.

"That is completely untrue.

"Processes for medical transfers existed prior to Medevac laws and they will continue to exist when this Bill passes the Senate."

The laws, which were passed with the support of Labor and the crossbench in the previous Parliament, make it easier for detainees on Nauru to come to Australia for medical treatment, but the Government argues the process is being abused.

Senator Jacqui Lambie is expected to back the government’s repeal of the Medevac laws today. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Senator Jacqui Lambie is expected to back the government’s repeal of the Medevac laws today. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Last week, Senator Lambie said she had one condition for her support and it was speculated that involved accepting New Zealand's resettlement offer.

Senator Lambie has yet to speak in the debate being held this morning, but is expected to address the chamber shortly.

Senator Pauline Hanson said One Nation would strongly support the Medevac repeal.

"They are using (Medevac) to stay in this country. How many of those people have been sent back (to Nauru)? None," she said.

"We know some of these people's problems are self inflicted, like palm oil into their penis."

Greens Senator Nick McKim said offshore detention had been designed for secrecy and the deal done to repeal Medevac would keep Australians in the dark.

"That secrecy had allowed for murders. It has allowed rapes. It has allowed for rapes. It has allowed for the sexual abuse of children," he said.


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