'Urgent' Push To Evacuate Sick Refugees From Manus, Nauru
New MP Kerryn Phelps is leading a push from the growing parliamentary crossbench to evacuate refugee children and sick adults from Manus Island and Nauru.
Phelps, who took her seat in parliament for the first time this week, was joined by crossbench colleagues on Thursday to announce her previously-flagged bill to expedite medical transfers from Australia's offshore detention regime.
Flanked by fellow MPs Andrew Wilkie and Adam Bandt, plus senators Derryn Hinch, Tim Storer and Nick McKim, Phelps said it was "urgent" that refugees on Manus and Nauru receive better medical treatment.
"This is a humanitarian crisis, this is a medical solution and it is something that will not affect border protection. It will not affect other government policies," Phelps told a press conference at Parliament House.
"It is really about getting the right kind of medical and psychiatric care for people who are suffering."
The bill would force the evacuation of all children from Nauru, and the temporary medical transfer of sick adults from Nauru and Manus.
Currently only about a dozen children remain on Nauru, down from more than 100 just weeks ago, with the government already having transferred many to Australia.
But medical transfers for adults are routinely blocked or delayed by the government, a situation Phelps' bill would seek to rectify.
A similar bill was introduced by Wilkie and Bandt last week.
The medical situation on Manus and Nauru has come under the microscope in recent months, following a series of well-publicised incidents of suicide and self-harm attempts, illness and injury to refugees.
Doctors Without Borders was ordered to leave Nauru, while refugees claim there is inadequate mental health support on Manus Island.
Phelps, a practicing doctor, said her medical background caused her to be particularly upset by the plight of refugees.
"As a doctor I cannot go on knowing that people are suffering on Australia's watch in indefinite offshore detention," she said.
"It is not something that we should allow to continue while there is medical evidence and medical opinion that this should not continue and that these people should come to Australia temporarily to get the help that they need.
"I cannot see an argument against this."
Jana Favero, of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, called it a "common sense" bill.
Phelps, the new Member for Wentworth, said she will introduce the bill on Monday.
It will be supported by Bandt and Wilkie in the lower house, but it is unclear if the push will have the required support to pass, with no word on whether Labor or other crossbenchers will get behind it.
"The psychiatric condition of the men who are [on Manus Island] is amongst the worst in the world in terms of the levels of anxiety and depression," Phelps said.
"The services that are unable to cope and the fact that they are unable to cope means that they need to be brought to Australia with the services can deal with this level of disability and unwellness."
Feature Image: AAP