Under Australia's immigration policy, asylum seekers intercepted at sea are sent to camps in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru, and they cannot set foot in Australia, even if they are found to be refugees.Opponents of the policy have introduced a bill to amend the Migration Act to enable the temporary transfer of "transitory persons" from PNG or Nauru to Australia for medical assessment. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has voiced its support for the bill.
Australia's prime minister and top colleagues campaigned over the weekend to block a bid to allow asylum seekers in offshore camps to come to Australia for medical treatment, saying tough rules on migrants should not be eased.
"We cannot have Australia's borders determined by panels of medical professionals," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a news conference on Saturday.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and Immigration Minister David Coleman also voiced their opposition to the bill.
"They'll be coming to Australia one way or the other saying that they have a need to because of ill-health," Pyne said
Coleman said the change would bring a return of the days when thousands of asylum-seekers travelled to Indonesia and then paid smugglers to take them on to Australia by boat.
AMA President Tony Bartone said the government should set up "appropriate mechanisms" to allow the temporary transfer to Australia "for those in need of urgent care".