Labor is concerned asylum seekers transferred to Christmas Island for medical treatment will receive adequate care, despite the government insisting health facilities are up to scratch.
The government plans to send sick people from Manus Island and Nauru to Christmas Island after Labor, the Greens and crossbench MPs passed laws making medical evacuations easier.
But authorities on Christmas Island say there are barely enough health facilities to cater for locals, let alone hundreds of asylum seekers with a wide variety of conditions.
Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham insists asylum seekers transferred to Christmas Island for medical treatment will receive adequate care.
"The government believes that we can provide all of the medical support required on Christmas Island," Senator Birmingham told Sky News on Sunday.
But Bill Shorten believes the coalition is raising the issue to score a political win over Labor by scaremongering on border protection.
"In terms of the government wanting to talk about medical treatment and Christmas Island, I'm not falling for that bait," the Labor leader said.
"The reality is that Christmas Island doesn't have very much in the way of medical care."
Senator Birmingham accused Labor and the Greens of damaging Australia's border protection regime by teaming up to pass the laws, under which two doctors can recommend a transfer.
But Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said there were questions about the standard of healthcare facilities on Christmas Island, off Western Australia, where the government is reopening a detention centre
"The government has to answer why it is that standards of healthcare that are not available on Nauru and that the people who live on Christmas Island say are not available on Christmas Island, would somehow be available there," Mr Burke told the ABC's Insiders program on Sunday.
The government has warned that under the new laws, sick asylum seekers won't be able to be sent back to offshore processing when they recover.
Mr Burke said the coalition could have tried to amend the bill in parliament if it was worried returning people would be a problem.
"The government has one intention here which is to try to string out and create a crisis intermittently every now and then on this issue to try to stoke a bit of fear," he said.
The senior Labor MP said the government had made the claim based on legal advice which it refuses to release.
Australian Associated Press