Crossbenchers to attempt bill to remove children from offshore detention

Crossbenchers to attempt bill to remove children from offshore detention
Photo by Thennicke via Wikimedia Commons

Federal crossbench MPs, led by independent Kerryn Phelps, will attempt to push a bill that will force the Government to remove all children and their families off of Nauru.

Following increased pressure on the Government to remove refugee children from offshore detention on Nauru, Independent Kerryn Phelps, who recently won the Wentworth by-election, has announced that she intends to put forward a private member’s bill in Parliament next week with the aim of removing all remaining children and their families from the island.

The bill, if passed, would also result in the immediate evacuation to mainland Australia of asylum seekers or refugees in offshore detention who are deemed physically or psychologically ill.

Dr Phelps said that “as a doctor” that she could not continue to tolerate people “suffering on Australia’s watch in indefinite offshore detention”.

She went on to say that it was “incredibly important” that the issue was “back in the hands of the medical profession” and that “the government gets out of the way”.

Evacuating children from Nauru was a landmark issue in Dr Phelp’s Wentworth campaign, which was triggered by the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.  However, the independent member will need to acquire an absolute majority of 76 supporting votes in order to have the bill debated in Parliament.

It is known that Dr Phelps has already secured the support of other crossbench MPs and that Greens MP Adam Bant has declared his support of the bill.

A Labor party spokesperson said that they would consider the bill after it had been formally introduced to parliament. However, even with Labor’s full support, the bill would need the support of at least one Government MP and all crossbench MPs in order to secure the needed majority.