Reverend Tim Costello has called on the Senate to block the federal government's repeal of medical evacuation laws.
Debate is set to continue on the repeal bill on Tuesday, with the Community Council of Australia chair and Baptist minister asking for compassion and common sense to prevail.
The medevac laws give doctors a greater say in transferring refugees from offshore detention to Australia for medical treatment.
Mr Costello dismissed the government's argument asylum seeker boats to Australia would restart under medevac, saying that would have happened already.
"I think anxiety and fear ... has damaged the Australian soul, we've become fearful," he said.
The government is hoping to win over the crucial vote of independent Senator Jacqui Lambie to support the repeal.
Mr Costello told Senator Lambie repealing medevac wasn't worth the $1.2 billion offshore detention has been reported to cost taxpayers over the last three years.
"It's not worth it, Jacqui, in terms of their mental stress, and at least saying to them, 'under medevac you can get proper medical help' is the deepest and truest sense of a fair go," Mr Costello said.
But he said he had not pursued a meeting with the Tasmanian independent, saying she hadn't been talking to many people.
Senator Lambie says she has given the government a condition, but has remained tight-lipped on what it was, saying it was a national security matter.
Sources close to Senator Lambie told Nine newspapers she wanted the refugees remaining in offshore detention facilities resettled in New Zealand, an option that has been ruled out by the government.
Mr Costello said the NZ offer to accept 150 refugees per year was sensible.
Australian Associated Press