Shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann has indicated Labor would likely withdraw support for a bill giving doctors the authority to approve the transfer of asylum seekers and refugees in offshore detention to Australia for medical treatment. Speaking on Sunday, Neumann said the party wanted to ensure “the minister has final discretion over medical transfers”, signalling its likely support instead for a medical advisory board proposed by the government. Speaking to Barrie Cassidy on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, defence minister Christopher Pyne claimed that all 1000 offshore detainees could qualify for transfer if parliament passes independent MP Kerryn Phelps’ medivac bill. “They'll be coming to Australia one way or the other saying that they have a need to because of ill-health”, Pyne said. However, Pyne refused to answer questions from Cassidy on why almost all detainees in offshore detention were too ill to be treated outside Australia, saying only “it’s not easy being tough on borders” and that Labor was “too weak to stop the boats coming to Australia”. Opposition leader Bill Shorten will meet today with home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo for a briefing on Phelps’ bill.
At least 17 Australian residents are reportedly being held under China’s crackdown on the Uighur ethnic minority in the country’s west. Guardian Australia reports that 15 Australian permanent residents and two residents on spouse visas have been detained by Chinese authorities while on trips to visit relatives, with many being placed in the “re-education” camps where up to 1 million Uighurs are being held by the Chinese government. Uighur rights advocate Nurgul Sawut has urged the federal government to take stronger action, saying Australia’s diplomatic corps should “locate these people to tell us if they’re alive or dead”.
Environmental not-for-profit group the Wilderness Society will campaign to unseat high-profile Liberal MPs at the next federal election. The group is targeting seats held by those it has described as “the worst offenders for nature destruction” – former prime minister Tony Abbott and former environment ministers Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenberg, all of whom face challenges from independent candidates running largely on climate change issues. The trio is also being targeted by progressive lobby group GetUp!, which commissioned a poll showing on Sunday that Abbott was trailing independent candidate Zali Steggall in the seat of Warringah.
And in the United States, high-profile senator for Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, has declared her candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Launching her campaign in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Warren called president Donald Trump “a product of a rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else”. Trump responded by invoking Warren listing her racial identity as “American Indian” on a Texas State Bar form in 1986, then making a mocking reference to the Trail of Tears relocations of Native Americans by writing on Twitter “see you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”