Seeing Liberal Party goons in our parliament congratulating themselves and sharing high-fives following the repeal of the Medevac Laws was not only obscene but also quite worrying. It brought to mind the verse attributed to Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) which I have slightly modified here :
First they came for the asylum seekers, and I did not speak out —
because I was not an asylum seeker.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
It is fitting that we remember that it was the death of 24 year old Hamid Khazaei that gave impetus for a caring nation and their parliament to enact the Medevac Laws in the first place.
Back in September 2014 this young man died in a Brisbane hospital after he had contracted a leg infection on Manus Island where he had been held in detention by Australian immigration authorities. Brisbane Coroner Mr Terry Ryan found his death followed a series of clinical errors and delays, including a lack of antibiotics on Manus Island to treat tropical infections and a failure by Australian immigration officials to urgently grant a doctor’s request for the twenty-four year old asylum seeker to be transferred to Australia for life saving treatment.
The coroner found the Australian Government had not met its responsibility to detainees such as Mr Hamid Khazaei to provide health care that was “broadly comparable” to that available in Australia.
The coroner recommended a systemic overhaul of healthcare responses in offshore detention, including a new policy to allow doctors on the ground, rather than Canberra officials, to approve medical transfers.
That systemic overhaul recommended by the coroner came into being in the form of the Medevac Laws that have now been repealed.
Coroners Report in full here.
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