SENATOR THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
RALLY ADDRESS – RURAL AUSTRALIANS FOR REFUGEES MEDEVAC VIGIL
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2019
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: First of all I am utterly humbled by the fact that you have slept out here overnight as a demonstration of your passion, your compassion, your support and determination that Australia recognises the humanity of the people who are being held in offshore, ongoing, indefinite detention on Manus, in Nauru and in PNG more broadly. What you've done here tonight is an act of witness. It's a witness to that humanity. It's a witness, and you're bearing witness, to the lack of respect, and the lack of compassion that exists in our current Government, when it comes to the most basic, the most basic recognition of a fellow human being, and that is to give help when they need it. I know there are people from many walks of life here, many faiths, and people of no faith at all. But one of the most simple messages that comes out of the Christian gospels that resonates throughout humanity is to treat other people the way that you would want to be treated. To do unto others as you would have them do unto you; it's the golden rule. And when people are sick and in need of help, they deserve our help.
Now last year, thanks to Cathy (McGowan) and a whole group of people in the Federal Parliament, this Parliament against the Government's wishes passed a law called Medevac. And it seeks to do this very simple thing which is to give sick people the medical treatment that they need. In many cases, it is lifesaving, medical treatment, it is urgent medical treatment. This Government seems determined to somehow and for some reason take that law off the books, repeal it, stop a law that allows sick people getting the healthcare they need. That's what this Government wants to do. And what you're doing here today is saying to them quietly, but also loudly, you are saying to this Morrison Government, we're going to bear witness. We're going to stand here for those people who can't stand here themselves. We're going to be their voice, we are going to be their witness and we are going to say to the Parliament, ""not so fast, not so simply and not in our name.""
I just want to be very clear about a couple things, especially while our friends from the media are here because I don't think I can say this often enough. When it comes to the Medevac laws, Minister Peter Dutton, the Prime Minister and others are simply not telling the truth. They continue to misrepresent, and frankly lie, about what this law does. If you listen to Minister Dutton, you would believe that he is powerless when it comes to who he can let into the country.
RALLY ATTENDEE: Bullshit!
KENEALLY: I won't use the word the gentleman just used because there's a camera and a microphone in front of me but let me say, loosely translated, he called time; he called that out in a more colourful bit of the language. It is not the case. It is not the case. Of course the Minister still has that power. The Minister has used that power himself to deny somebody entry into the country based on whether or not they are a security risk.
RALLY ATTENDEE: Or au pairs!
KENEALLY: The Minister does like to let au pairs in as the lady says. However, the Minister continues to repeat these lies that somehow Medevac is letting people into the country that are a risk. Somehow he is powerless. Somehow doctors, any two doctors anywhere are just going to say anything or do anything and let people come in. Let us be clear about this – the Minister has the power to stop anybody he wants based on security concerns. The doctors who allow people to come to this country because they need medical help are doctors appointed by Minister Dutton and what we have seen under Medevac is well over 100 people who have been able to get the medical care they needed because doctors appointed by Minister Dutton have said these people are sick and they need to come to Australia to get health treatment. That's what is happening when it comes to Medevac – people who are sick who need help are getting the help that they need. Now, I stand with you. The Australian Labor Party stands with you. A huge sway of the crossbench in the Senate stands with you. And we will not stand by quietly; we will stand with you. We will stand up for people who are sick to get the healthcare they need. We will not stand by and watch this Government just wave through a repeal of Medevac. We will oppose the repeal of Medevac. We will oppose it on the floor of the Parliament and in every other forum that we can and I am so delighted to be here in this forum, this morning, with all of you who are bearing witness. Thank you for what you're doing.