Mr Morrison said the proposals would “take control from the government” and “unleash a world of woe”. Australia sends asylum-seekers who arrive by boat to detention centres on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus as part of its tough stance on migrants. Under the proposed law change, doctors will be given powers to transfer refugees on Nauru and Manus to Australia for treatment. The immigration minister could ask an independent panel to review the medical assessment and would have authority to overrule it.
But Mr Morrison has criticised the proposals which were passed by the Senate last year with the support of the opposition Labor party.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The problem with the bill is it takes control from the government and contracts it out to others who don’t have those same interests or responsibilities.
“They have no idea of the consequences of what they are playing with. They will unleash a world of woe again. I’ve seen it before.”
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne warned the changes would lead migrants to come to Australia “one way or the other, saying they have a need to because of ill-health”.
Thousands of doctors have already signed a petition calling for the bill to be passed, saying it “is a sensible solution which allows doctors to take care of their patients if they need urgent care not available on Nauru or Manus”.
The Refugee Council of Australia said more than 1,200 asylum seekers were believed to be on the islands.
Australia’s processing centre for asylum seekers on Nauru is often at the centre of allegations of human rights abuses, with one professor of psychiatry saying children as young as eight were showing “suicidal behaviour”.
Many refugee children have lived most of their lives in the controversial centres although official said the last four migrant children on Nauru had now been moved to the US.
Australia insists its immigration policy discourages people-smugglers and prevents deaths at sea.