Immigration

Peter Dutton says women on Nauru are using rape and abortion claims to get medical transfers

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has claimed asylum seekers are denying transfers to the US because of Australia's medevac laws. Source: AAP

Asylum seekers are "trying it on" to secure medical transfers to Australia and the medevac laws have allowed “people of bad character" into the country, according to Peter Dutton.

Asylum seekers detained on Nauru are rorting the medevac laws by claiming to have been raped and in need of an abortion in order to secure a medical transfer to Australia, according to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Mr Dutton said some women transferred to Australia to seek a termination of their pregnancies have changed their mind after arriving, and sought legal advice to stop them from being returned to Nauru.

“There have been many ways that people have worked within the rules and around the rules. Some people are trying it on,” Mr Dutton told Sky News on Thursday.

“There are people who have claimed that they’ve been raped and came to Australia to seek an abortion because they couldn’t get an abortion on Nauru. They arrived in Australia and then decided they were not going to have an abortion.

"They have the baby here [on the mainland] and the moment they step off the plane their lawyers lodge papers in the federal court, which injuncts us from sending them back.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Thursday, June, 20, 2019.
Peter Dutton speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Thursday, June, 20, 2019.
AAP

In 2016 a federal court ruled that Mr Dutton had breached his duty of care by not bringing a woman who became pregnant as a result of rape to Australia for an abortion, exposing her to serious medical risks.

His most recent comments come days after the Federal Court ruled sick asylum seekers could be transferred to Australia without an in-person consultation.

He also said “people of bad character” have been allowed to come to the Australian mainland since the medevac laws were introduced.

“I don’t think there are any questions about that,” he said.

Mr Dutton did not elaborate on how many people of “bad character” had been transferred under the medevac laws, or what traits he was referring to by using the term.

“I will comment on those details at the appropriate time,” he said.

The Coalition has previously argued murderers, rapists and paedophiles would be allowed into Australia under the medevac laws, which came into effect in March this year.

Several months earlier, Australia secretly resettled two Rwandans who spent 15 years in US custody after admitting to the 1999 murder of eight tourists in Uganda. The arrangement was part of the 2016 refugee deal struck by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former US President Barack Obama.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the transfer and said the men had been screened by security agencies.

“That included checks relating to national security, criminality, war crimes, and crimes against humanity,” he said.

After the coalition’s win at the federal election, it declared its intention to repeal the medevac laws.

Mr Dutton has urged Labor leader Anthony Albanese to support the Coalition’s push and take control of an “unravelling situation”.

Opposition Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said Labor would consider amendments to the laws if the party decides there is “compelling evidence” to do so.

“The government has not put forward any compelling evidence as to why this legislation should be repealed,” Senator Keneally told Sky News on Thursday.

“We are not open to repealing the law in absence of any actual evidence."

"[Mr Dutton] needs to put up or shut up."

So far, just over 30 asylum seekers have been temporarily transported under the medevac scheme.

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