15 Feb 2016

Australia govt won't budge on Nauru baby

6:03 pm on 15 February 2016

The Australian government is standing firm on its stance that an asylum seeker baby must be returned to Nauru.

Protestors in Sydney ask the government not to send asylum-seekers back to Nauru

Protestors in Sydney ask the government not to send asylum-seekers back to Nauru. Photo: AFP / William West

Doctors at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital have been treating the one-year-old girl since she was admitted with burns last month and are now refusing to release her if she is to be returned to Nauru.

It is understood that the baby's condition was stable and both her parents were in Brisbane, where they had been visiting her daily.

Protests and vigils were being held outside the hospital, but Former immigration minister Scott Morrison said the current regime must be maintained due to its success in stopping people trying to reach Australia by boat.

Mr Morrison told 2GB radio that it was not an easy decision, but the rules had to be applied as laid out in the policy.

"That is what has been successful in getting the outcome that we've had in terms of the grisly business of people getting on boats," he said.

"The risk of departing from the policy in any way, shape or form basically sends an invitation for the trade to recommence.

"The government continues to hold its line, absolutely, completely."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did not directly address the case when asked today, instead stating that the government was assessing all situations on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Turnbull refused to be drawn into the debate surrounding the one-year-old girl, but said that "no decision would be taken which would imperil the health or security of any individual".

"We're managing this policy with great care, and with great compassion," he said.

"But it is a difficult job, because we have to do it in a way that gives no incentive to the people smugglers."

The actions of the hospital staff has been praised by the Greens, while Queensland's Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said the girl should be discharged.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said he "supports the decisions made by clinicians at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in relation to baby Asha".

-ABC