Sometimes it's good to step back from a big controversy and look at the basics. All the political rhetoric clouds the issue - as it does with "medevac", the laws which the Morrison government wants to scrap.
What does the law say?
The Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019 (to give it its full title) enables asylum seekers and refugees held on the Pacific island nation of Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guineato be brought to Australia for medical treatment if two doctors say they need it.
The Home Affairs Minister - Peter Dutton - can refuse the request "on character and/or national security grounds".
The Minister can also refuse on medical grounds, except in the case of children, but if he does this, there is a further review by an eight person medical panel.
The lawyers at the UNSW say: "If the panel recommends transfer, the case goes back to the Minister, who can still refuse on security and character grounds. In the absence of any such grounds, however, the transfer must at this stage be permitted."
So what's the fuss?
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said that the legislation was a "back door way to bring people to Australia".
He said that at least six people transferred to Australia have been flagged as security concerns. "They're here in Australia," he said.
His department says that nobody who has come to Australia for medical treatment has actually been returned to the camps.
The department told The Canberra Times that 135 people had been brought to Australia. Of these, it says:
- "Five transitory persons have refused treatment.
- 40 have refused a chest x-ray and/or pathology on arrival to Australia."
The government says there is too little time allowed to assess the background of someone seeking medical transfer - might the sick person be an extremist or a run-of-the-mill criminal?
Supporters of the legislation argue that asylum seekers have been held for some time and an assessment of the risk they pose can be made long before any medical request.
On The Hill
Back in July, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the medevac laws but the Senate referred the matter to a Coalition-controlled committee which recommended the repeal.
But it doesn't have the majority. They need the vote of Independent Jacqui Lambie.
The bigger picture
There is always a trade-off at a nation's borders between security and openness.
A completely secure system keeps out those who might bring economic benefits or who would be in mortal danger where they came from. On the other hand, a loose system might allow in dangerous or merely undesirable people.
The Australian Medical Association and 11 Medical Colleges said the Medevac system was working.
There is no evidence that anybody transferred has committed a crime and it seems likely that the government would have mentioned such a case.
There is no right or wrong answer in finding the balance between a humane policy and a secure policy. Where we make that judgement depends on our values, individually and collectively.
The even bigger picture
The conflicts over migration will only get bigger, particularly if global warming pushes people to look for better places to live.
In President Trump's America and in Europe, it is the burning issue which divides right and left, usually acrimoniously. Boat people arriving on the shores of Europe has empowered the far right across the continent. Many have drowned before reaching the northern shore of the Mediterranean.
According to the Legatum Institute, there were 258 million people living outside their country of birth in 2017, up from 173 million in 2000. In 2017, there were 25.9 million refugees and asylum seekers.
This issue is not going away. Australia's attempt to balance a humane policy with security will only get harder.