Lambie backs coalition on medevac repeal

Greens Senator Nick Mc Kim and Senator Jacqui Lambie

Citing "national security concerns", Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued that the bill was a loophole that needed to be closed.

"I'm not being coy or silly when I say I genuinely can't say what I proposed". I really don't understand this level of secrecy.

However, there have been conflicting accounts of what took place as Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann has denied that any deal had been made.

Christian asylum seeker advocates are disappointed with the repeal, though they remain hopeful about rumours Lambie negotiated a deal with the Government to accept New Zealand's offer to permanently resettle asylum seekers from Manus and Nauru.

The vote was the latest example of the Australian government's hard-line stance on border protection, a policy it has maintained even as the United Nations has condemned it for detaining asylum seekers who were intercepted at sea indefinitely, on islands in the Pacific.

"I'm not anxious about the politics of this issue, I'm anxious about the people, the patients here at the centre of this system", he told the National Press Club.

Ms Lambie cried in the chamber as she backed the bill but would not reveal whether a deal had been struck to garner her support.

RCOA CEO Paul Power said the Senate vote removes legislation created to end political and bureaucratic interference in decisions about how best to treat the medical needs of the refugees and people seeking asylum held by Australia in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Thirteen medical colleges and more than 5,000 doctors had warned against any attempt to wind back the medevac laws.

Following the repeal, Médecins Sans Frontières said it would endanger patients and is "unethical and harmful to vulnerable people and the entire medical profession".

With the government now being accused of reaching a secret deal with the senator, Rita Panahi tells Steve Price the public has a right to know the truth.

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But Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally has questioned a lack of transparency around the alleged deal clinched between the Government and Senator Lambie.

Cormann had claimed there would be "no change" in the government's stance, in shooting down claims of a deal with Lambie.

One Nation's Pauline Hanson told the Senate she had just had "a quick talk with senator Lambie".

"Someone is misleading the Senate about one of the most important pieces of legislation that has been before this Parliament".

Medevac - which facilitated medical transfers of people from Papua New Guinea and Nauru - was passed against the Coalition's opposition when it was briefly in minority late in the last parliamentary term.

The Morrison government argues existing medical transfer provisions were adequate before the medevac laws were put in place and will not result in poorer treatment outcomes.

Morrison rejected those allegations, insisting Canberra has provided significant medical aid, while those unable to get necessary treatment can be sent to Australia if the minister for home affairs approves it.

The laws, which came into effect in March, allowed people in offshore processing to be transferred on the recommendation of two independent doctors.

The minister could also deny on health grounds - in this event it goes to the Independent Health Advice Panel for review.

With additional reporting from wires.

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