Labor attempts to shore up political vulnerabilities as parliament enters last sitting weeks. All the day’s events, live
It’s also Newspoll day – and things are still not looking up for the government.
Yes, Scott Morrison is still preferred prime minister, but that measure is sort of bupkis as a political pointer. Prime ministers tend to be more popular than opposition leaders, because a – they have better name recognition and b – the job of an opposition leader is to, well oppose the government. That tends to see them come across as negative in the 15 second tv grabs.
The politics around the medivac bill has gone a little bananas in the last couple of days.
First Scott Morrison called it “stupid”, then a security briefing prepared for Home Affairs was leaked, and somewhere in the middle of that, Bill Shorten’s language changed, with “middle ground” starting to make an appearance.
What we’ve got to do here is take a bit of a step back from the government’s rather hysterical rhetoric and think about what this bill is about and why Kerryn Phelps has brought it forward. This is about whether people who we have responsibility for, who we’re to look after, if they’re sick and need medical care, whether they should get access to that? Our view is yes.
I think that the Australian people understand that and their answer to that is yes as well. And what the government has done on this legislation, frankly, is not tell the truth. Because the legislation, yes, says that two doctors may make a recommendation, but that’s subject to ministerial approval.
Labor has always had two clear objectives – making sure sick people can get medical care, and making sure the minister has final discretion over medical transfers.
Labor has great respect for our national security agencies and we’ve always worked cooperatively with them. While the Liberals leak national security information, we listen to it.
We have said that and we’re prepared to compromise across the parliament. This should not be a partisan issue. But this is a government that doesn’t look for outcomes but looks for arguments. That’s one of the reasons why it is in the state that it is. It doesn’t look for solutions. It has responsibility and it knows full well that almost 1,000 people have already been transferred to Australia. And the provisions in which they need medical assistance so what this is attempting to do …
There’s an argument that the ministerial discretion is there because it’s the minister who appoints the panel that will make the determination and the minister still has, under this legislation that’s proposed, discretion over national security grounds. So if we need to tweak the legislation, then by all means, we should be able to do that in order to get an outcome. But I think that what Dr Phelps, in discussions that I had with her last year was very clear about, was that she was about outcomes. So if we need to tweak the legislation, by all means, let’s have those discussions.”