Scott Morrison
The new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a swearing-in ceremony as his wife Jenny looks on, in Canberra, Australia August 24, 2018. Reuters/David Gray

A senior Australian doctor caring for refugees on Nauru has been arrested and deported back to Australia. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was willing to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 80 asylum seekers on Nauru if they would never step foot in Australia.

On Tuesday, International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) medical officer Dr Nicole Montana was stood down for breaching rules of the regional processing centre. The ABC said she was detained because she took a photo of a child being treated at the regional processing centre on the island. The Government of Nauru forbids medical workers from photographing their patients to prevent leaks to the media and refugee advocates.

“A replacement senior medical officer is already in Nauru, there has been no impact on the service provided to transferees,” an IHMS spokesperson told AAP.

Dr Montana’s predecessor was also deported from Nauru last month. Queensland GP Dr Christopher Jones was told by Australian-funded IHMS that his visa was revoked under unclear circumstances. It was said to be because of a disagreement over medical transfers of the refugees.

Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), or more commonly called Doctors Without Borders, were also recalled from the island earlier this month. MSF has then released a statement, saying it “strongly condemned” the Nauru’s government for stopping its doctors from giving much-needed medical and mental health care.

Lifetime ban

Morrison is now willing to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 80 asylum seekers from Nauru, but on one strict condition: The refugees must never step foot in Australia ever.

On Wednesday, the Coalition government mulled on NZ PM Jacinda Ardern’s offer more than a year ago, saying the deal could work if the refugees could be stopped from entering the country, even under a tourist or business visa.

Morrison told reporters that there was currently no majority support for the bill. But for New Zealand, it’s up to Australia whether it wanted to ban people from entering the country.

“Our offer still stands. Who Australia allows across their borders is a matter for the Australian government,” NZ Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told AAP.