Medical Treatment Bill passes House of Reps

‘This bill seeks to amend the Migration Act 1958 to require the temporary transfer to Australia of transitory persons on Manus Island or Nauru, and their families, if they are assessed by two or more treating doctors as requiring medical treatment’

The Migration Amendment (Urgent Medical Treatment) Bill 2018 passed the House of Representatives on 12 February 2019 and is pending debate in the Senate. That could be seen as a vote of no confidence in the Government, as the Coalition has lost the vote on this Bill.

The explanatory memorandum includes the following passage:

This bill seeks to amend the Migration Act 1958 to require the temporary transfer to Australia of transitory persons on Manus Island or Nauru, and their families, if they are assessed by two or more treating doctors as requiring medical treatment. It also requires the temporary transfer of all children and their families from offshore detention to Australia for the purpose of medical or psychiatric assessment.

The Bill adds subsection (4) into s 198B of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). Section 198B would read as follows (bold for the added provision):

Subdivision C – Transitory persons etc.

Section 198B  Power to bring transitory persons to Australia

(1)  An officer may, for a temporary purpose, bring a transitory person to Australia from a country or place outside Australia. 

(2)  The power under subsection (1) includes the power to do any of the following things within or outside Australia: 

(a)  place the person on a vehicle or vessel;

(b)  restrain the person on a vehicle or vessel;

(c)  remove the person from a vehicle or vessel;

(d)  use such force as is necessary and reasonable.

(3)  In this section, officer means an officer within the meaning of section 5, and includes a member of the Australian Defence Force.

(4) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), a temporary purpose may include:

(a) medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment; or

(b) accompanying a person who has or will be brought to Australia in accordance with subsection (1) or section 198C, if that person is a member of the same family unit or if recommended by a medical practitioner.

The Bill also adds s 198C after 198B, as follows:

198C Transfer of legacy minors, relevant transitory persons and family members for medical treatment

Transfer of legacy minors

(1) If an officer knows or reasonably suspects that a transitory person is a legacy minor, the officer must, as soon as practicable, bring the person to Australia for the temporary purpose of medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment.

Transfer of relevant transitory persons

(2) If the Secretary is notified that a transitory person in a regional processing country has been assessed as a relevant transitory person by 2 or more treating doctors, the Secretary must cause an officer to, as soon as practicable, bring the person to Australia for the temporary purpose of medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment.

Transfer of family unit etc.

(3) If an officer knows or reasonably suspects that a transitory person in a regional processing country is a member of the same family unit as another transitory person (the relevant transferee) who is being brought to or is in Australia for a temporary purpose, the officer must, for the temporary purpose referred to in paragraph 198B(4)(b), bring the transitory person to Australia at the same time as, or as soon as practicable after, the relevant transferee.

(4) If an officer knows or reasonably suspects that a transitory person in a regional processing country has been recommended by a treating doctor to accompany another transitory person (the relevant transferee) who is being brought to or is in Australia for a temporary purpose, the officer must, for the temporary purpose referred to in paragraph 198B(4)(b), bring the transitory person to Australia at the same time as, or as soon as practicable after, the relevant transferee.

(5) If an officer knows or reasonably suspects that a transitory person in a regional processing country is a member of the same family unit as a minor who is in Australia, the officer must, for a temporary purpose, bring the transitory person to Australia.

Miscellaneous

(6) Nothing in this section shall affect the operation of section 198B.

(7) An officer must not bring a person to Australia from a regional processing country in accordance with subsection (1), (3), (4) or (5) while the person does not consent to being brought to Australia.

(8) In this section:

legacy minor means any transitory person who, on the day this subsection commences:

(a) was in a regional processing country; and

(b) had not previously been the subject of the exercise of a power

(c) under subsection (1); and (c) was under 18.

relevant transitory person means any transitory person in a regional processing country:

(a) who is assessed by a treating doctor as requiring medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment; and

(b) who is not receiving appropriate medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment in the regional processing country.

treating doctor means:

(a) a medical practitioner who is registered or licensed to provide medical or psychiatric services in a regional processing country or Australia; and

(b) has assessed the transitory person either remotely or in person.


Disclaimer: the above is a mere discussion on a Bill. The views there expressed might not reflect the views of the Department, the AAT or the courts. The law or policies might have changed between the writing and reading of this article. The author of this article and Migration Law Updates disclaim any liability for any action (or omission) on their part based on any information provided (or not provided) in this article and are under no obligation to keep the general public nor practitioners informed about the matters discussed in this article or any other matters, or any future changes to any of those matters. It is the responsibility of each practitioner to obtain access to primary sources of law and policy by themselves and to carry out their own research and come to their own conclusions on legislation, case law, policies and more. This article is not intended for the general public.


Sergio Zanotti Stagliorio is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1461003). He is the owner of Target Migration in Sydney. He can be reached at sergio@targetmigration.com.au