19 Feb 2019

Sick refugees to go to Christmas Island

3:56 pm on 19 February 2019

Refugees transferred from offshore detention for medical treatment will be taken to Christmas Island, Australia's senate has been told.

The sick refugee at Lorengau Hospital.

The sick refugee at Lorengau Hospital. Photo: Facebook

The government announced it was reopening the detention centre on the remote Australian island last week, after the passage of the Urgent Medical Treatment Bill.

The bill ammended the Migration Act, giving doctors the authority to transfer sick refugees from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia.

The head of the department of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo told Senator Nick McKim on Monday it was the government's policy that the sick refugees would be taken to Christmas Island.

"It is the government's policy to bring persons, under the act that soon will be assented to, to bring people to Christmas Island," Mr Pezzullo said.

Senator McKim said transferring sick refugees to Christmas Island was a denial of parliament's intent.

"That is a clear denial of the clear intent of the parliament which is that people get access to better medical treatment which is not available on Christmas Island."

However, sick refugees could still be treated on the mainland, Mr Pezullo said.

"It goes without saying that if specialised treatment is only available on the mainland then the mainland will be utilised," he said.

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