Before all the messiness of the day begins in earnest, some good news – Hakeem al-Araibi is due to arrive in Melbourne very soon, after his almost three month ordeal.
Here is what the prime minister had to say late last night, following the decision not to pursue the extradition case:
But what we’d like to do tonight is to thank and show our appreciation to the Thai Government for the decision that they have taken today. We greatly respect the process that they’ve had to work through and we greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our Government and many others who have raised this case. These issues are complex and our relationship with the Thai Government and in particular with Prime Minister Prayut, is very strong. We thank them for the way that they have engaged with us on this matter now, for some period of time. I also want to thank – and the Foreign Minister will add further to this – all of those Australians who have been so supportive of Hakeem. Those who have provided direct support to him personally, particularly Craig Foster who has very much championed his case and cause and I have spoken to him and Marise has spoken to him on many occasions, we’ve worked closely together.
But there is still a journey ahead, there is still a process to be followed. But we are very grateful for the relationship we have with the Thai Government that has enabled us to work through these issues in the way that we have. I particularly want to commend the Foreign Minister for the work that she has done and that all of our consular officials have done. These issues are very delicate, they’re very sensitive and I think what we’ve seen here is the professionalism of our foreign service on show. So we thank them very much for all of their work and all of their advice.”
Welcome to the first sitting day of 2019.
We begin today as we ended yesterday – talking about the Manus Island and Nauru medical evacuation bill.
As Katharine Murphy reported:
At the end of a meeting of the shadow cabinet, the left and right factions, and the caucus, the ALP signalled it wanted to rework the proposal it supported in the parliament last December to increase the discretion of the home affairs minister to refuse medical transfers for asylum seekers, to make the timeframes for decision making less restrictive, and to ensure the procedures only applied to the cohort currently on Manus Island and Nauru.
The backflip, which had been telegraphed by Bill Shorten since the middle of last week, followed a substantial rhetorical bombardment – including misrepresentations about the detail of the legislation – by the Morrison government in an effort to avoid losing the first substantive vote in the House of Representatives since 1929.”
This morning, Kerryn Phelps, who was the inspiration behind the bill getting to this point, has said she will look at Labor’s proposed amendments. She said her focus was on getting ill people the treatment they need.
“That is what this is all about – getting medical treatment for those people who can’t get medical treatment on Manus Island and Nauru,” she told Sky News.
“So, if the legislation is confined to that cohort, that might be something that we can look at, but I would have to again speak to the refugee sector about that.”
So stay tuned as we follow those developments.
Both party leaders are at the traditional beginning of parliament church service this morning, before heading back to parliament where all the morning’s lessons will be promptly forgotten.
And we’ll be here documenting it all. Mike Bowers is already out and about, as is Katharine Murphy and the rest of the Guardian’s brains trust. You’ll find us on twitter and, when time permits, the comments.
I haven’t found a coffee this morning, so once that is done, I will be straight back into it. Ready? Let’s go.