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Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Coalition MPs described Labor as weak on borders after the opposition and the crossbench voted to pass a bill allowing medical transfers from Manus and Nauru. AAP/Mick Tsikas

A refugee law expert on a week of ‘reckless’ rhetoric and a new way to process asylum seeker claims

A refugee law expert on a week of ‘reckless’ rhetoric and a new way to process asylum seeker claims. The Conversation44 MB (download)

Today, we’re bringing you a special episode of our podcast Trust Me, I’m An Expert for anyone wondering: what the hell happened this week?

A sitting government lost a vote on the floor of parliament (which hasn’t happened in decades) over a bill that aims to facilitate medical transfers from Manus and Nauru.

(You can hear the MP Kerryn Phelps, who set the ball rolling for that legislation, give her account on Michelle Grattan’s politics podcast over here).

Read more: Politics with Michelle Grattan: Kerryn Phelps on medical transfer numbers

A day after a bloc of cross-benchers and the opposition won the vote, Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled the government may re-open the Christmas Island detention facility and the Coalition was accusing Labor of being weak on borders.

In other words, a federal election campaign centred on border security has well and truly begun.

To help us understand the broader context, we’re hearing today from Dr Daniel Ghezelbash, a refugee law expert from Macquarie University.

In our discussion, he busted several myths about how the asylum seeker “medevac” bill would work, and described as “reckless” political rhetoric that the new legislation represents a destruction of Australia’s border security.

Read more: Explainer: how will the 'medevac' bill actually affect ill asylum seekers?

This week, many Australians cheered the release of refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, and reports emerged showing airport arrivals of asylum seekers has soared, but much of the political discussion centred on boat arrivals.

The focus on boat arrivals in the lead-up to an election should be familiar to any student of Australian political history, he said – but this time it may be different.

Join us on Trust Me, I’m An Expert, as Dr Daniel Ghezelbash explains a policy alternative to our current system of offshore processing that he says wouldn’t involve compromising security or shirking our international legal obligations.

Read more: We don't know how many asylum seekers are turned away at Australian airports

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Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Guardian News video.

Sky News report.

RN Breakfast report.


AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

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