Australia

'Tipping point': Liberal MPs urge PM to bring Nauru children to Australia

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Three coalition MPs have joined the calls for children in detention on Nauru to be immediately removed because of serious mental and physical health concerns.

Three backbenchers in the government are urging the prime minister to bring more than 80 children and their families to Australia for processing

A group of three Coalition government backbenchers – Craig Laundy, Russell Broadbent and Julia Banks – are urging their prime minister to bring more than 80 asylum seeker children from Nauru to Australia.

The MPs argue the situation on Australia’s offshore detention centre on the Pacific island nation has reached a “tipping point” – with hundreds of doctors adding their voices to calls for a medical evacuation in recent days.

Their proposal would see the children and their families brought to Australia, but only temporarily, either in detention or on community bridging visas.

The island of Nauru
The island of Nauru
Getty Images

Thousands of maritime arrivals who came under the previous Labor era are already living in Australia on similar visas.

“This is an embarrassing humanitarian crisis that the government needs to resolve in a manner acceptable to the Australian people,” Mr Broadbent told the Herald Sun newspaper.

Mr Laundy told the paper he had noticed a shift in attitudes in his electorate, and had relayed that to prime minister Scott Morrison.

“I’ve had doctors sit in my office and run me through specifics, which I’m extremely uneasy with,” Mr Laundy said.

Craig Laundy
Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation Hon Craig Laundy looks on during a press conference in Sydney.

Australia’s absolutist policy of never allowing asylum seekers who come by boat to settle inside the country has stood for years now, since it was introduced under the Rudd/Gillard government.

Mr Morrison, as immigration minister in the Abbott government, implemented Operation Sovereign Borders, which included a policy of boat turnbacks.

Some people held on Manus Island and Nauru have already been found genuine refugees, while others have pending asylum claims that have stood for up to five years in some cases.

The Refugee Council welcomed the move.

“We welcome the courage of these Liberal politicians who have put concern for vulnerable children above politics,” Refugee Council CEO Paul Power said. “They are reflecting the views of millions of Australians who are distressed by the psychological harm being caused to refugees being held indefinitely on Nauru and Manus Island.”

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