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Trusting Jacquie !

When Jacquie Lambie appeared on Q&A I thought that finally we would get some answers on why she allowed her pivotal vote in the Senate to repeal the medevac laws. The laws had been introduced on a private members Bill sponsored by Kerryn Phelps, Andrew Wilkie, Adam Bandt, Julia Banks and Rebekha Sharkie on 6 December 2018 and formally known as the Migration Amendment (Urgent Medical Treatment) Bill 2018.

The purpose of the Bill was quite simply stated as :

‘Amends the Migration Act 1958 to: require the temporary transfer to Australia of transitory persons on Manus Island or Nauru, and their families, if they are assessed by two or more treating doctors as requiring medical treatment; and require the temporary transfer of all children and their families from offshore detention to Australia for the purpose of medical or psychiatric assessment.’

The need for this Bill had been driven by the 2014 tragic and unnecessary death of a young man 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.

So the medevac Bill came into existence as a Private Members Bill and passed into the law of the land without the support of the minority government who pledged that they would repeal the legislation as soon as they had a majority. Not because it was bad law but because it was not their law and they will not tolerate any divergence from their legislative agenda such as it is.

After the law was passed the government had what I think you could call a ‘hissy-fit’. Dutton told us that those on Manus were paedophiles, murderers and rapists and would be fooling doctors to get on a ‘plane to Australia with a headache or an ingrowing toenail. Morrison hightailed it over to Christmas Island with a select media group as he explained that the wilfulness of the Senate in passing the medevac legislation would imminently result in an armada of boats from Indonesia and Christmas Island needed to be reopened at great expense to accommodate this new wave of ‘boat people’.

Let us quickly dismiss this nonsense : firstly if these folk on Manus were criminals as suggested by Spud Dutton, why have they not been brought before the courts of PNG or Australia. PNG has a mature legal system as was evidenced by their Supreme Court finding – against massive Australian diplomatic and legal interference – that the detention of people without trial is unconstitutional and thus unlawful in Papua New Guinea. PNG has also in recent days enacted ICAC legislation to take on corruption in high places, something Australia finds very hard to do. The PNG judicial system would have quickly apprehended these so called criminals if they were within their jurisdiction – it may be, as with Guantanamo Bay, that the detention centres are actually within the jurisdiction of Australia although our government is ambivalent on this when it suits them.

As regards Morrison’s Christmas Island adventure it tended to backfire as there was no armada and the detention centre has only been used for one Sri Lankan family and more recently for the quarantining of potential corona virus [covid-19] patients.

Let’s now turn to the legislation that brought into effect the more orderly management of medical evacuees that Dutton in particular was so opposed to. He saw this legislation as creating a national security problem because he, as responsible minister – I use that term loosely – would be unable to control the flow of people seeking medical attention in Australia as a result of this new – now repealed – legislation.

The new legislation set out the conditions by which sick people on Nauru and Manus could be transferred to Australia for medical treatment. The medevac law required that a medical evacuation could take place if two or more treating doctors considered that a person needed to be evacuated : the Home Affairs minister still retained the discretion for refusal despite saying that it had been taken out of his hands.

The ministerial discretion applied in three areas.

First, the minister could refuse the transfer if he disagreed with the clinical assessment.

The second grounds for refusal is if the minister reasonably suspected 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.”

The transfer could also be refused if ASIO advises the minister that transfer of the person to Australia may be prejudicial to security “and that threat cannot be mitigated”.

The third grounds for refusal was if the minister knew that the transferee had a substantial criminal record and the minister reasonably believes the person would expose the Australian community to a serious risk of criminal conduct.

But, those decisions and that discretion needed to be exercised within 72 hours to prevent the matter dragging on and to avoid as far as possible the unfortunate outcome that bureaucratic bumbling had for the late Mr Hamid Khazaei.

Finally, if the minister denied the transfer request on health grounds (as opposed to security or criminal grounds), then the issue would go to an Independent Health Advice Panel “as soon as practicable.”

So, the minister was always in control of the situation he just had to make decisions based on reasonable evidence without unnecessary delay.

Back to Senator Lambie on Q&A. She was asked why she used her vote to help repeal the medevac laws despite overwhelming evidence from the AMA and other doctors groups including Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF] who said this :

In an ideal world we would not need the MedEvac Bill, but right now it is crucial to keep it in place. Because decisions around how patients should be treated must always be made by independent medical professionals, not politicians.

Clearly this legislation was sensible and humane and for Senator Lambie to join with the coalition in repealing it was baffling. Well, we still don’t know why she voted that way as all she would say on Q&A was that it was a matter of ‘national security’ upon which she could not comment further and she asked the Australian people to trust her and all would be revealed in due course, but not now.

We do have one clue why Dutton does not want refugees on Manus island to come to Australia for medical treatment and that, quite simply, is because PNG would not have them back again and why should they ? These people are not PNG citizens, they are not guest workers, they do not have visas and they cannot be classed as ‘detainees’ as that is now illegal in PNG. So, were they to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment they would probably stay in Australia unless the government took up the New Zealand resettlement offer – on which they have been obstinately uncooperative – or sent them to Nauru. Or perhaps they would end up in a motel in Preston which seems to be the preferred coalition solution.

Chaos is no stranger to this coalition but, the mismanagement and bungling of asylum seeker policy and offshore indefinite detention has been the biggest ongoing administrative cock-up we have seen in this country for a long time and yet it goes on and on.

PS: Jacquie I think they conned you !


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  1. pierre wilkinson

    so much for a transparent and open government
    and Jacquie Lambie, like this government
    has lost all credibility
    wonder how big a package they offered?

  2. Matters Not

    Senator Lambie suffers from an inferiority complex and while she makes valiant efforts to compensate, she remains easy meat for seasoned professionals like Mike Pezzullo. Before politics, Jacqui’s claim to fame was as a member of the Australian Army – reaching the less than lofty rank of Corporal during her decade of less than notable or even meritorious service. Nevertheless, it’s a track record of which she is rather proud. Pezzullo knows that and was prepared to use that psychological avenue to exploit.

    For Jacqui to be entrusted with matters of national security is above and beyond her wildest dreams. That such supposedly high level matters of national security would be entrusted to someone who peaked at the Corporal level is just a cruel joke. Being ‘conned’ is a rather kind description.

    My guess is that Jacqui won’t be able to withstand the pressure to justify her secrecy pledge and will ‘blurt’ in the not too distant future. Besides, it’s probably the case she was sworn to secrecy on a what might happen scenario which will soon disappear into the ether also. After all – the legislation is now dead and buried.

  3. ajogrady

    Once a foot soldier allways a foot soldier or once a conservative allways a conservative.
    The Australian people lost a smart and intelligent senator in Tim Storer and end up with the likes of Jacquie Lambie and Malcolm Roberts. Is it any wonder that Australia is totally stuffed.

  4. Phil

    Lambie is nothing but an uneducated opportunist. When she has filled her boots with enough cash and has served in the parliament for long enough for us to keep her the rest of her life, she will disappear back into the obscurity, she came from. She would no doubt go down well in a shearing shed or, driving a road grader, but in the parliament she is out of her depth. The only difference between her and Hanson is the colour of her hair.

  5. Terry

    The Australian parliament does need to reflect a more representative cross section of our population currently we have to many lawyers and party political hacks. When Jacqueline appeared on the scene she was different and good on her for being so but unfortunately she is a one trick pony, loud and rumbucious but little else
    When it comes to complex detail she is not up to it!! Let’s face it the big end will not share ” vital ” security information with a person who’s life achievement is the rank of corporal in the army after a 10 year stint
    Good to her for reaching a senate position but she appears totally out of her depth and is easy meat for the LNP hierarchy
    Her pleas of ” trust me ” have little effect on me

  6. Jack Cade

    Lambie was a Palmer candidate. She is a right winger and should be seen as such. She will tor the line like the soldier she used to be. She is no Wilkie, no Windsor.

  7. DrakeN

    I believe that Jacquie Lambie is doing what she thinks best, but does not have the intellectual capabilities, nor the sheer spitefulness, to do battle with the evil bastards who surround her.
    Best of intentions but, as my late Grandmother used to iterate: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

  8. Matters Not

    DrakeN, yes Lambie probably is motivated by good intentions but as to what constitute those good intentions will, more often than not, be provided by an other. The decision for this metaphorical other will be about the timing – whether it be best to be the first to speak to her or the last. Decisions, decisions. Weighty matters of State will depend on the timing with Lambie.

    And the provision of a media angle. Must enable her to appear strong and shouty Or should that be SHOUTY?.

  9. Carl Marks

    Doubt it.

    Not bright enough to be aware of anything beyond impulses manipulated by others who know how to massage her sad pathology.

  10. 24-5179

    Lambie on Q&A asked us to trust her, as she trusts this govt, that’s why she supported them. Hearing that i all but choked on my tim tam and flat white

  11. Phil Pryor

    You can all rely on a dud, under educated, under performing, unreliable politician to be unreliable. If you cannot run yourself, your relationships, your personal life, you can’t contribute much more than the usual suburban chap, kid, granny or aware dog. Now, the elevated shithead politician, the Joyce, Morrison, Abbott types, they know how to contribute sugar coated shit to the unaware. Lambie cannot achieve much except an unfortunate headline when she makes the inevitable stupid blunder, and then, more…

  12. Kaye Lee

    Jacqui Lambie 7:30 report September 2013

    “I support tearing up the carbon tax to a certain degree but some of that carbon tax is quite good. So, you know what, tearing something up and restarting again takes longer. We probably need to start that carbon tax at maybe three or four per cent.”

    Ummmmm……. 3 or 4% of what? I get the impression Jacqui didn’t quite have a handle on what an emissions trading scheme actually meant before she voted to get rid of it.

  13. Ill fares the land

    Whilst many would, I’ve no doubt, believe that Lambie is a “straight talker” and therefore is inherently trustworthy, her erratic and irritatingly pugilistic behaviours within and without the Parliament lead me to think otherwise. We don’t know why she voted to repeal the legislation and her tearful and earnest begging for trust hardly inspire my confidence. In fact, her breathless ramblings in the Parliament over the “sport rort” saga were, I felt and at best, over-wrought and at worst nonsensical. Had Lambie amassed an existing level of trust, perhaps it all might have seemed more plausible, but she has, thus far, failed miserably at building trust and instead has assumed that level of trust. Lambie’s intellect is not high and I suspect the LNP know her weaknesses and how to more or less manipulate her towards the desired outcome without her really knowing that she is being played for a schmuck. It is a delicate balance – letting her believe that she is calling the shots and that her risible “tough dude” persona is intimidating, when in reality she is being surreptitiously guided towards a particular outcome. Is it all a bit sad? Yes it is. Does this render her trustworthy? Absolutely not.

  14. whatever

    They are like spiteful children making up rules for their cubby-house.

  15. Kaye Lee

    Jacqui wrote in the Tasmanian Times

    “The Australia United Party will give an immediate Duty off Care to the men and women that have been physically or psychologically damaged because of Military service that they received by placing their lives on the line for our country.”

    All they need to get Jacqui’s vote is make an announcement about veterans or the military. They are good at announcables. Or even better, secret promises. National security,

  16. wam

    Waltz are you being fair to an ex-service woman? Where did you get your information on ‘refusal’? Do you think jaqui has the intelligence, patience and time to read the bill? Do you think dutton’s briefing gave her the information on the grounds for refusal?
    There is a rumour that she has a former greenie researcher as her tax adviser maybe he has filled her mind with what to ask in return for her vote????
    I had a long term dream of women running the show but how ^%%$@@ wrong was I? Senile boobby cut shy etc out of the loop and let hanson and lanbe rule.
    What did we do to deserve so many years of these people in government???

  17. Michael Taylor

    National security my arse. She’s borrowed that line straight off of Dutton.

  18. Matters Not

    So Senators Lambie, Hanson, Roberts et al are an affront to the current Australian democracy? Not like the supposed Golden Age of times past which was .. when we had Senator Malcolm Arthur Colston coupled with Senator William Brian Harradine and another Tasmania Senator William Edward Aylett who spent most of the Senate sitting time sunning himself on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

    Them were the days. And how quickly some forget.

  19. Michael Taylor

    Indeed, MN. Our democracy has given us every politician ever to grace our Parliament (unless there are exceptions I’m unaware of).

    There’s good and bad in that.

  20. Carl Marks

    “Jackie, i think they conned you”.


    We wait and see. Is she another dupe, or, hope against hope, will she turn out as made of the right stuff?

    Engineered consent, employing the brain power of cold dead psychologists bosses and the miracles of technology has what we and our betters thought of as civilisation as almost a memory, probably beyond any retrieval. So, some where in the twenty first century the upright up ape outsmarted itself and destroyed its own nourishing matrix for living for morlock feudalism.

    No second chances in the real world.

  21. Pingback: Trusting Jacquie ! #auspol - News Oz

  22. corvusboreus

    Lanbe was only able to help repeal the medevac bill because slimey monkey Brandt helped pass it, therefore the denial of ‘due or reasonable care’ is all the fault of boobby and the loonies QED???
    Ex-greenie tax advisor… rumours abound (but no noims noimed).
    Wams world!!! wams world!!! Party time!!! Excellent!!!

  23. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. Michael Taylor … I think there is ONE Liarbral Senator who has never been elected, only promoted as a replacement for a retiring Senator … twice … you know, that underwhelming former General Nobody (??) …..

    Lamb had credibility until she was swamped by the Liarbrals on the medivac legislation. A breath of fresh air, uncomplicated, “what you see is what you get” struggling working class woman, “having a go” at first under Palmer, until she recognised that he was a self-serving conman, then as a s44 “victim” who worked her way back into Parliament on the strength of her local popularity.

    Naive, outspoken, gullible, not very bright, enjoying the salary and entitlements of the job and clinging onto them for as long as possible for all she is worth.

    Sadly, we have entered a period in Australian political history which has too many similarities to the German Weimar Republic before the Nazi regime was democratically elected to political power supported by the establishment wanting to protect their wealth and position from any communist takeover. That scenario did not end well.

  24. Ken Fabian

    I suspect Morrison’s team have Jacqui’s number – in the sense that they know exactly what buttons to press. They can frame the arguments they present on almost any issue to align with her hopes and fears and unexamined beliefs.

    Ms Lambie appears to be one of those politicians that fights fearlessly for what they believe in – whilst resisting fiercely any attempts to examine what they believe in or with the broader consequences of their choices will be. The fighting for what she believes in hits a chord with voters – one that lots of LibNatLab politicians are incapable of hitting – and especially where their unexamined beliefs align with her unexamined beliefs.

  25. wam

    My mum and dad’s bridge partners were servants to senator dame nancy buttfield.(nee holden) They thought she was important to life and vital to australia.
    She ruled in the days when the senate had no work. Later they realised they could find much busy work by aping the house.
    Giving voice to dozens of ‘vain buffoons’ calling themselves ‘minister’.
    ps corvus who took over from messenger

  26. Max Gross

    Jacqui is wa-aaay out of her depth but has found a seat on the gravy train so expect nothing from her that might rock the boat, er… train…

  27. Brozza

    Kaye Lee – imagine how all those ex-military personnel will feel when their payments and support are swapped for an Indue card.

  28. Kaye Lee

    Lest we forget….

    Abbott stood by his government’s decision to reduce benefits to children of soldiers killed or seriously injured in service as part of the mining tax repeal package, saying he had been upfront with voters before the election.

    “There are tens of thousands of people who will lose the income support bonus and I don’t suppose any of them will be very happy to lose it … but this idea that the children of veterans are somehow being singled out for mistreatment by government is simply false. It’s an outrageous smear.”

    Then veterans affairs minister Michael Ronaldson said the bonus was intended to top up payments to children of soldiers, and the cut “does not result in payments being reduced to below the minimum level necessary for recipients to meet their basic needs”.

    These people are seriously weird. They have no idea what it is like to live in poverty.

  29. 24-5179

    “These people are seriously weird. They have no idea what it is like to live in poverty.”…………….

    .australian voters are seriously weird, again and again voters re elect their same inept/flawed/snout in trough candidate back to canberra, and on occasions with an increased margin. By doing that, voters have no grounds to complain, they have condoned their candidates track record.

  30. Cool Pete

    To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Dutton is an evil bastard.

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