Christmas Island Plan Needs Explaining: Plibersek
The federal government needs to explain how Christmas Island can provide adequate health treatment for asylum seekers, Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek says.
After the parliament passed laws making it easier for medical transfers from Manus Island and Nauru, the government announced it would reopen the Christmas Island facility which was mothballed last year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison argues the reopening - at a cost of more than $1.4 billion - is a necessary step to deal with the expected influx of asylum seekers requesting medical transfers.
However, authorities on Christmas Island say there are barely enough health facilities on the island to cater for locals, let alone hundreds of asylum seekers with a wide variety of medical conditions.
Immigration Minister David Coleman said on Wednesday there would be adequate facilities, but declined to comment on what was now available on the island.
"If a person needs to be treated for a particular matter, adequate facilities will be provided at Christmas Island," he told Sky News.
Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters on Tuesday when asked about Christmas Island: "If the medical treatment is required and it's delivered on Christmas Island and it makes people well, well that's fine."
Plibersek said on Wednesday the government still had some explaining to do.
"It is up to the government to explain how people who cannot be adequately treated on Manus Island and Nauru can have adequate medical treatment on Christmas Island," she told the National Press Club.
"It is up to them to explain how they justify the extra expense of doing it this way given that this government has already brought hundreds of people from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia to the mainland for medical treatment."
She said she understood that in recent times about 400 people had been brought to the mainland for treatment, accompanied by about 500 family members.
"How can it be safe for those people to be brought here by Peter Dutton but we need to open Christmas Island for anybody else? I'd like the government to explain that."
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