A copy of Labor’s amendments has fallen into my hands. What I’m about to share with you looks backwards.
This is where the discussions started this morning, but it’s interesting to be able to snapshot the process at different times.
Labor, we know, has flagged three principles it wants adjusted.
The first is widening the scope of ministerial discretion to knock back medical transfers.
The minister can knock back a transfer on security grounds in the bill as it stands, but Labor wants to expand the scope to include blocking transfers of people with criminal histories.
So, again, to be clear, this is where the discussion started early this morning. The bill currently says the home affairs minister must approve the person’s transfer to Australia unless that would be prejudicial to security.
The new language says the transfer should be approved “unless: the minister, in the minister’s discretion, reasonably believes that the transfer of the person to Australia would be prejudicial to security within the meaning of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, including because an adverse security assessment in respect of the person is in force under that Act”.
A second criteria has been added.
The transfer should be approved unless “the minister knows or, in the minister’s discretion, reasonably suspects that the person has a substantial criminal record (as defined by subsection 501(7))”.
The second principle Labor is pursuing is time frames for determinations. The original bill said determinations be made within 24 hours. The amendment proposed this morning said omit within 24 hours and substitute “As soon as practicable after”.
The word from the bunker is the parties are now back to a specific time frame, rather than as soon as practicable. I’ve heard 48 hours, but nothing is certain yet. Kerryn Phelps made it clear it would need to be 72 hours at a minimum this morning.
The third Labor negotiating principle is applying the enhanced procedures to the current cohort of people in offshore detention, not to new arrivals, in the event any new arrivals turn up.
The Labor ring-fencing amendment specifies:
“A person is a relevant transitory person if: (a) the person is in a regional processing country on the day this section commences; and (b) in the opinion of a treating doctor for the person: (i) the person requires medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment; and (ii) the person is not receiving appropriate medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment in the regional processing country; and (iii) it is necessary to remove the person from a regional processing country for appropriate medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment”.