The Morrison Liberal Government has repealed the Medevac legislation.
The repeal bill passed through the Senate, 37 votes to 35.
The medevac laws passed parliament last year when the Morrison Liberal government led a hung parliament. Under the legislation, two treating doctors could recommend a medical transfer to the Department of Home Affairs.
In a press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that by repealing the laws, the government had fulfilled an election promise.
“We’ve always understood that that type of loophole doesn’t strengthen our borders, it only weakens them,” Mr Morrison said.
“A year ago, we were defeated in the parliaments but we stood firm. And we stood firm and went to an election and said, support the Coalition and we will repeal those laws and so today, we fulfilled that promise to the Australian people.”
However, doctors and human rights activists say the laws were vital to saving the lives of those held in offshore detention. An open letter signed by 5000 doctors urged politicians to keep the law intact.
Micah Australia CEO Rev. Tim Costello previously called for the Senate to prevent the repeal from taking place, arguing that Australia had a moral responsibility to provide healthcare to asylum seekers.
“I think anxiety and fear … has damaged the Australian soul, we’ve become fearful,” Rev. Costello said.
Medevac, he suggested, was “…[T]he deepest and truest sense of a fair go.”
The repeal legislation passed the Senate with the assistance of Senator Jacqui Lambie. Ms Lambie has remained tight lipped on the conditions of the deal, she says she reached with the government to support the repeal bill. In a statement, the Senator suggested that a key condition had been met.
“The condition that I put to the government is a sensible and reasonable proposition, that I have arrived at through extensive consultation,” Ms Lambie said.
“I am aware that it is in the capacity of the government to accept it.”
There are currently more than 200 refugees and asylum seekers left on PNG and more than 250 remaining on Nauru.