CANBERRA, Feb 12 – Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison is campaigning to block a bill that would let sick asylum seekers in offshore centres get treatment in Australia.
Mr Morrison said the bill would “take control from the government”, and “unleash a world of woe”.
Australia has sent asylum seekers who arrive by boat to detention centres on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus.
Its tough immigration policy has been repeatedly criticised.
The detention centre on Nauru has been dogged by allegations of widespread abuse and trauma among children and women.
Australia’s parliament is expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday.
Under the proposed changes, doctors would have the power to transfer refugees on Nauru and Manus to Australia for treatment.
However, the immigration minister could ask an independent panel to review the medical assessment, and would have authority to overrule it.
Mr Morrison criticised the proposal, which was passed in the Senate last year with the support of the opposition Labor party, saying it would lead to deaths at sea.
“They have no idea of the consequences of what they are playing with. They will unleash a world of woe again. I’ve seen it before,” he said.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne similarly voiced his opposition, saying the changes would lead migrants to come to Australia “one way or the other, saying they have a need to because of ill-health”.