Labor's Position on Key Issues

Medical Transfer Legislation

February 26, 2019

The Parliament has passed legislation to help sick refugees and asylum seekers currently on Nauru and Manus Island receive urgent medical care.

We just passed a Bill that means the government must now listen to the advice of doctors about whether sick refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island should be evacuated to Australia for medical care. 

We can be tough on borders without being cruel to sick people who need medical care.

Labor was pleased to work with Kerryn Phelps, and other crossbench MPs, to deliver this result.  It’s an example of what the Parliament can achieve when we work together.

  • We strengthened the Immigration Minister’s discretion to keep Australians safe from serious criminals or security risks.
  • Labor made timeframes for the medical transfer process more workable to ensure sick people will be able to get the medical care they need.
  • These measures only apply to the people currently on Nauru and Manus Island – to remove any incentive, no matter how small, for people to risk their life at sea.

This Bill was only needed because Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and the Liberals have left people to languish on Nauru and Manus Island for close to six years.

There is no difference between Labor and Liberal when it comes to our border protection regime.

We support offshore processing, turnbacks when safe to do so, and regional resettlement – there will be no changes to this under a Shorten Labor Government.

Scott Morrison is running a desperate and shrill scare campaign – spreading baseless lies about Labor’s strong position on border protection. He is encouraging the people smugglers to restart the boats and should be ashamed of himself.


The next important step is to resettle those refugees and asylum seekers, who are still on Nauru and Manus Island, safely in third countries. 


Labor, if elected, will accept New Zealand’s generous offer to resettle refugees with appropriate conditions – and negotiate other third country resettlement options as a priority.