Apr 27, 2021

Scott Morrison Announces Suspension of Flights from India to Australia: Press Conference Transcript

Scott Morrison Suspends Flights from India
RevBlogTranscriptsScott Morrison TranscriptsScott Morrison Announces Suspension of Flights from India to Australia: Press Conference Transcript

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in an April 27, 2021 press conference that flights from India to Australia would be suspended due to the level of COVID-19 in India. Read the transcript here.

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Scott Morrison: (00:00)
… joined by the Foreign Minister. And I begin on behalf of Marise and I in extending our sincere condolences to the Baird family. Judy Baird passed away early today and will be sadly missed a course by our dear friend Bruce Baird and their family, Mike, Julia, and Steven and of their families. Judy was an absolute saint and an angel and she will be sadly missed.

Scott Morrison: (00:24)
Today the National Security Committee met and we were considering a large number of matters as he is normal for the National Security Committee. But in particular, we met today to address the situation in India and the terrible humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in India. We recognize that this has been a very significant outbreak in India and we know for Australians who have family in India at this time, they will be very distressed. The scenes that we’re seeing from India are truly heartbreaking. India is a great friend of Australia, a comprehensive strategic partner. We share so much in common as peoples, as democratic nations, and we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences and support to the nation of India and the people of India and the Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister Modi. They are dear friends of Australia and we will stand with them during this terrible crisis and for all Australians who are caught up in this terrible set of events. The number of cases continues to increase, 325,000 new COVID cases on the 25th of April, on Anzac Day, and over 2,800 deaths. There are significant shortages of key personal protection equipment, medical equipment and oxygen supplies and a severe disruption of the production capabilities of India because of the impact of COVID on their population.

Scott Morrison: (01:58)
Australia, by contrast, has obviously had a very different experience and that placed us in unique position amongst many countries to lend our support to India at this time. India has been determined also to be a high-risk country under the process we put in place for the purpose of travel arrangements. Not only do we have to reach out and support our friends and family and all of those across India, but we also need to take appropriate steps to ensure that we, here in Australia, we have border protection arrangements upgraded and put in place to deal with the risks that clearly present from travel from India.

Scott Morrison: (02:35)
Today, we agreed in addition to the measures that were announced after the last National Cabinet meeting to pause direct passenger flights between India and Australia until the 15th of May. It will be reviewed prior to that time in terms of any further extension of that pause in those arrangements. This will impact directly on two passenger services from India into Sydney and two repatriation flights from India to Darwin, this impacting around 500 arrivals.

Scott Morrison: (03:09)
Passengers on all future flights, when and if these flights are resumed going forward, will be required to have both a negative PCR test and a negative rapid antigen test prior to uplift. Further flights to India would be considered, as I said, prior to the 15th of May with a focus on supporting vulnerable Australians, and in particularly in relation to charter flights that are being put in place by the Australian government.

Scott Morrison: (03:36)
Now for indirect flights, because that is another way that people who may have been in India would come to Australia, already it has been announced and we are advised that indirect flights through Doha, Dubai, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, we are aware that flights to and from these transit points and India have been paused by their respective governments.

Scott Morrison: (03:59)
So that third country entry point into Australia has already been closed by those key embarkation points to Australia. That will obviously have impacts, in a positive way, in terms of restricting the inflow. In fact, in most cases eliminating it for places like Perth and South Australia and ports that do not have direct flights. This is all in addition to the existing arrangements that we put in place, including restrictions on outbound travel to India as a high-risk destination last week.

Scott Morrison: (04:36)
But we also have to reach out and support India. As many countries are doing, what Australia will do, is we’ll provide an initial package, and I stress this is an initial package, there’ll be more to follow, of support and to deliver this as soon as possible. So, 500 noninvasive ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves, and 20,000 face shields. We will also agree to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators along with tanks and consumables. DFAT will manage the movement of this equipment over the course of the next week.

Scott Morrison: (05:21)
I’ll ask the Foreign Minister to speak more to the support we’re providing to Australians and Australian residents who are in India. We are standing with those Australians in India and recognize them very serious difficulties that they face. A hardship program, which has been in place for many, many months now, continues to be available to provide support to Australians in those circumstances. And consulate support continues just to be available.

Scott Morrison: (05:46)
I particularly want to commend our High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell for the great work of he and all of his consular team are doing in India right now. They, as you can imagine, have been getting considerable requests and the work that they’ve been doing to respond and support Australians in India is highly commendable.

Scott Morrison: (06:06)
I also want to note that over these weeks ahead the Australian government will be reaching out, through the Department of Home Affairs directly through the Minister and the Minister for Immigration Multicultural Affairs, to engage with the Australian community with Indian descent. And reaching out to them, listening to them, engaging in round tables with their community leaders to keep them informed of the information that we have available as well as listening to them about what they are hearing and what they are understanding of the experience of their family members and friends and other associates within India.

Scott Morrison: (06:40)
It’s very important that we remain in close contact with them over the course of what will be a highly stressful period for those Australians who are caught up or have family members affected by this humanitarian crisis in India. And we are very keen to ensure that they know that we are standing with them during what is incredibly difficult time for them and their families and their communities. So with that, I’ll pass you onto the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Marise Payne: (07:04)
Thank you very much, Prime Minister. And like you, can I start by acknowledging Judy Baird and her family. Coincidentally, and completely serendipitously, I’ve known Judy Baird since I was a teenager. She was my Careers Counselor at high school. So, I know this will be a very, very difficult time for the whole Baird family who have been great friends of ours for many, many years. And I conveyed my warm sympathies and thoughts as well.

Marise Payne: (07:36)
Prime Minister, I also want to send our thoughts to our friends in India. This is no doubt, a very, very difficult time for many, many people. I’ve been in touch with my very good friend and colleague, Minister Jaishankar, in relation to these issues and assured him of Australia’s very best wishes and our strong support, which we’re commencing with the announcements from today.

Marise Payne: (08:03)
I also want to reaffirm the great leadership and generosity that India has shown the global community throughout this pandemic. They have, in fact, exported over 66 million WHO approved vaccines across the world. I know in our own region, how important this has been. In the Pacific it includes gifting vaccine doses to Nauru and to Fiji. It has also manufactured vaccine doses for Papua New Guinea, for the Solomon Islands, which have been delivered through the COVAX facility and we warmly acknowledge that generosity.

Marise Payne: (08:42)
As the Prime Minister did, we also know that for Australians in India and their loved ones, this is a very difficult time. For Indian-Australians, many here in Australia will be very concerned about family, as well. Prior to the current outbreak, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had eight-

Marise Payne: (09:03)
Prior to the current outbreak, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had eight planned flights from India in May. And because of the decisions we have made today, of course, they will be paused and they are part of our continuing support to Australians to return safely. Those restrictions will be under regular review, but since these efforts have begun, we’ve seen over 19,400 Australians returned from India since March of last year.

Marise Payne: (09:29)
We currently have just over 9,000 Australians registered in India, 650 of those are registered as vulnerable. As you would expect in these circumstances, this number will certainly increase in the coming days and weeks, as people’s circumstances change. Since March of last year, we have facilitated 38 flights out of India, 28 flights with Qantas from Delhi, from Chennai, from Mumbai and from Kolkata, which have brought back 5,000 passengers. And when circumstances do allow through this temporary pause, we will resume those flights, and if possible, seek to increase their frequency if we are able to.

Marise Payne: (10:11)
I particularly want to acknowledge the efforts of those at our High Commission and our consular posts in India. I’ve spoken again today to High Commissioner O’Farrell and thank him and the teams across those four posts for what has been a very significant task, not just in recent weeks, but in fact since March of last year. I want to absolutely assure those Australians in India and Indian-Australians here that our four Indian network posts remain staffed by Australian diplomats. They will continue to provide that consular assistance to Australians in distress, including through DFAT’s financial assistance program. And that has, of course, been in place for many months now.

Marise Payne: (10:56)
Our posts will also be redoubling their efforts to maintain contact with Australian citizens in India to ensure that they are informed about travel settings, about any changes and about assistance programs. That has been part of their work for many months now, but certainly in the current circumstances those efforts will, as I said, be redoubled.

Marise Payne: (11:19)
I want to advise, again, our consular contact numbers for those who may need to make contact. From Australia, the number is 1300 555 135. And from outside Australia, it is of course +61 62613205. We have seen some increase in registrations in India from Friday and across the weekend. As I said, I expect that to increase, but we will stay in close contact with those Australians and provide the support that we are able to.

Scott Morrison: (11:58)
Thank you.

Press 1: (11:58)
Prime Minister, what’s the reason for this? Obviously you didn’t go this far last Thursday. Has the WA lock down been influential with their hotel quarantine system unable to contain this many cases?

Scott Morrison: (12:09)
What is concerning is the increase in the percentage of cases in hotel quarantine that have their origins in India. While up until last week, the total number of cases that have occurred in quarantine from Australians returning from overseas has not lifted above levels which we’ve been experiencing over the course of this year. It has only actually been in the past week, the week commencing the 16th of April, that we started to see a jump that went from 90 the previous week to 143 the following week, in the most recent week. Now we’ve seen numbers of 90 and above 95, 98, before this in the course of this year. So, within the total number of positive cases, while the proportion of Indian arrivals had increased, the overall number of cases in quarantine had not markedly changed.

Scott Morrison: (13:03)
In this past week, we saw that rise. And that was particularly in areas such as the Northern Territory and in New South Wales where we have direct flights coming into both of those areas. Proportionately, we saw higher numbers in Western Australia and South Australia. But in terms of the total number of cases originating in India the overwhelming majority of those were in New South Wales and in the Northern Territory. And as a proportion of the cases in the Northern Territory, which is where we have the national quarantine facility, that had got to the point of almost well over 95% of cases.

Scott Morrison: (13:39)
So it’s important to take this pause to enable those quarantine facilities, particularly in the Northern Territory, to be able to work through the system and return to lower levels so we’ll be able to resume supporting, getting Australians home in those direct flights that we have been using to repatriate Australians.

Scott Morrison: (14:01)
But equally, in New south Wales which has been carrying the lion’s share, not just of arrivals across the country, but also because they have a direct flight from India. We thought it was necessary to put in place just over a two week pause. I spoke to the Premier about that over the course of the weekend and she supports that, thinks that’s wise as we just allow the system to rebalance.

Scott Morrison: (14:26)
But one of the challenges, going forward, is the testing regime for those embarking on flights. So having the rapid antigen testing in place, we think will support that, but that will give us several weeks to put those arrangements in place with the commercial operators. Qantas has already indicated that they’re able to do that, but working with other operators we’d want to be assured that those mitigations were in place.

Scott Morrison: (14:49)
This is a rapidly escalating situation. We believe today we needed to go further with the pause and I welcomed the fact that the third country entry points to Australia, embarkation points I should say into Australia, have also closed off. Which is, I think, what was driving the concern particularly in South Australia and Western Australia.

Scott Morrison: (15:12)
I mean, there weren’t direct flights going into those states. And so those flights that were coming from Malaysia and other places were carrying Australians back from other parts of the world where the risk is not as great as it is in India. And so that means Australians will still be able to come home through those flights under the cap arrangements that we have. Western Australia has reduced their cap. Queensland is only now starting to return to where they were. And Victoria is still, and we’re pleased to have the back in the system, but they obviously have further ability to increase the number their taking [crosstalk 00:15:46]

Press 2: (15:46)
Prime Minister, during this two week pause there are vulnerable Australian citizens who are in India-

Scott Morrison: (15:50)
True.

Press 2: (15:50)
… who may catch COVID and may pass away. How do you feel about that? What are you going to do for them?

Scott Morrison: (15:56)
It’s a humanitarian crisis, and it’s one that’s gripping the world. This has been the case all around the world over the course of the last year. That is the nature of a global pandemic. That is why we’ve been repatriating Australians from India, some 20,000 or thereabouts, over recent months in directly contracted flights, as well as facilitative glides that the Australian tax payer had supported to get as many people home safely as we can.

Scott Morrison: (16:23)
But the need and the risk continues to grow in a place like India. And that is very sad for the people of India. But I don’t see this as a problem that we’re trying to solve, I see this as a group of people we’re trying to help. I don’t see those Australians of Indian heritage as a problem we have to solve, not at all. I’m concerned that that’s how some may have been seeing this. Now these are Australians and Australian residents who need our help-

Press 2: (16:50)
To the very vulnerable [crosstalk 00:16:50].

Scott Morrison: (16:50)
And we intend to ensure that we are able to restore particularly the repatriation flights and that those repatriation flights focus on the most vulnerable. And that’s what the high commissioner and their team is working through to ensure that when these flights resume and that the Northern Territory facility can take them again, as well as direct flights into Sydney, then we’ll be able to do that in the appropriate way. But Marise, did you want to add to that?

Marise Payne: (17:15)
No, Prime Minister. When I spoke to the High Commissioner this morning, we touched on this challenge. Absolutely there are the people that I’ve referred to today, those registered as vulnerable. They are also all over India, literally, in every single corner of the country. There is not a significant concentration in one place or another, other than New Delhi. That does make the process challenging, but we will stay in touch with them. As I said, redouble our efforts to do that and provide any support we are able to.

Scott Morrison: (17:47)
Yeah, so we will be looking to restore flights safely with even stronger protocols to ensure that we’re protecting arrangements around our borders. We don’t think the answer is to forsake those Australians in India and just shut them off, as some seem to suggest. That’s not-

Scott Morrison: (18:03)
… and just shut them off, as some seem to suggest. That’s not what my government is going to do. Now, we will stand with the Indian community here and our friends in India, as one of our closest and most strategic partners.

Press 1: (18:11)
Prime Minister, it’s disingenuous to say that you’re not forsaking them and that you’re standing with them, when in fact you’re saying it’s this massive crisis and you’re suspending these flights for three weeks? How do you say that’s not forsaking them and standing with them?

Scott Morrison: (18:26)
Well, this is the difficult challenge in a pandemic. You don’t get the perfect of all situations. And what you have to do is you have to ensure that you have the integrity of your quarantine arrangements, which have withstood any number of challenges. We need to ensure that the load in those quarantine facilities is manageable so we can take more people in down the track, which is what we definitely intend to do. We will resume the repatriation flights from India. That’s exactly what we will do. And we will work through our consular offices in India to ensure that we’re focusing those repatriation flights on the most vulnerable who need our help.

Press 2: (19:01)
Prime Minister, Mike Pezzullo’s comments on Anzac Day about-

Scott Morrison: (19:05)
Why don’t we just stay with India for a minute.

Press 1: (19:07)
Mr. Prime Minister, I was going to ask you, we had the states calling for commonwealth quarantine facilities. Was the government considering any further ones like Howard Springs at RAAF air bases? And also, Greg Hunt kind of suggested the appropriateness of Queensland’s Wellcamp proposal. He’s questioned that a bit and I’m wondering, are you going to be looking at that further or not [inaudible 00:19:31]

Scott Morrison: (19:32)
If I told you a year ago, just over a year ago, when the National Cabinet agreed unanimously to put in place a system of hotel quarantine and that would be done to enforce the state administered and imposed public health orders that require that quarantine, and if I was to tell you that that would achieve a 99.99% success rate, you wouldn’t have believed me. No one in this country would have believed me. I would have found that hard to believe.

Scott Morrison: (20:03)
That is what the hotel quarantine system has achieved. If we look only, particularly in recent times, from the end of October to the 22nd of April, we have had some 140,355 people go through hotel quarantine. Only on 13 occasions have there been incursions. And around two incursions, such as in the Northern beaches, has there been a broader impact in terms of the spread of that virus. And on that occasion, it had to do with a super spreader event that was at a major entertainment venue.

Scott Morrison: (20:42)
Hotel quarantine is the first ring of containment. Well, 99.99% success rate I think is pretty good. I think there’s not a country in the world who wouldn’t want a quarantine system that has been working as effective as that. But it is not 100% foolproof, and in 0.01%, in fact less in cases, you will see occasional breaches. So I make no criticism of any state and territory government that on occasions we will see breaches.

Scott Morrison: (21:12)
The challenge is, as we’ve seen Western Australia respond to particularly on this occasion, but other states respond on other occasions particularly here in New South Wales, is the ring of containment that comes into place with their contract tracing system. And that’s what’s been achieved again. This is how the system works.

Scott Morrison: (21:29)
I mean, a system that is achieving 99.99% effectiveness is a very strong system and is serving Australia very well. Now, when the commission in Victoria looked at quarantine facilities, they made a number of recommendations. And that meant that quarantine facilities need to be near major hospitals, tertiary hospitals, and so that is a key requirement. There was also a need to have these facilities that are near appropriate workforces, both health workforces and the other workforces that are provided through the defense forces, local police and others, and to ensure that that support is in place as well. And they need to be close to our major airports because that’s where the planes come. That’s why these arrangements have worked so successfully.

Scott Morrison: (22:17)
They can always be improved. When Jane Halton did her review, some time ago, she made a number of recommendations which have been taken up by the states and territories. One of those was to establish a national resilience facility, which we have done, and that is in Howard Springs. That’s been done in partnership with the Northern Territory government, and towards the end of next month that will have a capacity of 2000 people. And that is there to take the charter flights that we’re using to repatriate Australians. And for that, not to have to be accommodated within the hotel quarantining arrangements with the states and territories in the other major ports.

Press 1: (22:52)
Should WA have not locked down?

Scott Morrison: (22:55)
That’s entirely a decision for the WA government.

Press 1: (22:57)
But you must have a view of that as Prime Minister?

Scott Morrison: (22:59)
No, I back the decisions of the states. See, I’m working with the states and territories, Andrew.

Press 1: (23:03)
On case is enough to lockdown?

Scott Morrison: (23:04)
I have sought to do that all the way through this pandemic. They have their responsibilities and they have to make their calls and their decisions. It has not been my practice to give a running commentary on the decisions and the responsibilities they have. Australians expect me to work together with the states and territories, to work together to ensure Australia is best protected through this pandemic. So you won’t find me squabbling about this. You will find me supporting the states and territories. So what we’ve seen in Western Australia is a quick response. They had their contact tracing system kick-in, and I’m sure there’ll be lessons that they will pick up from how they look back at the issue that occurred and I’m sure there’ll be improvements.

Press 5: (23:49)
[crosstalk 00:23:49] When the repatriation flights with India resume, will there be any prioritization for Australian cricketers who are currently playing in the IPL, or will it be basically just done on vulnerability?

Scott Morrison: (24:01)
It’s done on vulnerability. They’ve traveled there privately, under those arrangements, this wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources to, I’m sure, to see them returned to Australia in accordance with our own arrangements.

Press 1: (24:19)
Do you agree with Michael Pezzullo when he says the drums of war are beating?

Scott Morrison: (24:23)
My goal as Prime Minister, and I know the Foreign Minister feels the same way and the entire cabinet, is that our objective is to pursue peace. That’s what we’re doing. We’re pursuing peace for a free and open Indo-Pacific. And all of the agency that we have as a country and as a government is designed to achieve that. But it’s also, at the same time, designed to ensure that Australia’s national interests always advance.

Scott Morrison: (24:50)
Of course, that’s why we’ve invested considerably to ensure the capability of our defense forces. Two percent of our economy each year, the size of our economy, is spent each year now ensuring that we have a capable defense force in this country. That is a significant increase from where we were when we came to government, when the size of our investments in our defense forces fell to below the levels before the Second World War. We have restored that and we’ve done that to ensure that Australia’s national interests can always be protected. But our goal is to pursue peace in our region, to pursue peace and stability and as I’ve said before, a world order that favors freedom.

Press 1: (25:28)
What do you make of his comments then? What do you make of them?

Scott Morrison: (25:30)
You’re the commentator, Andrew, not me.

Press 6: (25:37)
Given Mr. Pezzullo’s comments, would you consider increasing that 2% to say 3%?

Scott Morrison: (25:37)
Well, we’re already above 2%.

Press 6: (25:39)
[crosstalk 00:25:39] see a significant increase?

Scott Morrison: (25:40)
But what we’ve gone is a platform and a program of defense investment that stands this government out against its predecessors and ensures that Australia can meet the needs that we have. I refer you to the Strategic Update that I gave last year, which highlighted the new areas of focus that we have as part of our defense plan, and that in particular related to strike capabilities at that time and I’ve made subsequent announcements about that as well.

Scott Morrison: (26:05)
But the purpose here, Australians want us to pursue a peaceful outcome because that’s what’s in their interests ultimately. And that’s what the government is doing. Working with our partners in the region, working with ASEAN, working with our Quad partners, working with our comprehensive strategic partners, which includes China. And working together to ensure that we can have an open trading, peaceful community in the Indo-Pacific, because that’s what is in the interest, I believe, of all countries in the region.

Press 7: (26:33)
[crosstalk 00:26:33] When will the list of high-risk countries be finalized and when will the new testing regime be introduced, the 72 hour test?

Scott Morrison: (26:41)
The 72 hour testing regime, that’s for third-country arrangements for high-risk countries, which at this stage has only listed India. The Chief Medical Officer has worked through all the countries and when you go to a red list, like they have in the United Kingdom… Remember, in the United Kingdom this is about where they restrict entry-

Scott Morrison: (27:03)
This is about where they restrict entry into the country just for citizens. So they currently allow travel into the United Kingdom for non-citizens, and so the red list as I understand it applies to where they restrict it to citizens. Now, Australia already has that implies for every country in the world. You can’t come to Australia, you can’t do that unless there’s a specific exemption which is granted by the border force commissioner for any number of quite specific purposes.

Scott Morrison: (27:28)
And so India is the only country of major point of embarkation into Australia that has been identified as a risk at this point, at that level. They’ve looked across a range of other countries, it wasn’t that long ago that we were having serious concerns about Papua New Guinea. And what we’ve seen as a result of the pause we put in place for arrivals out of Papua New Guinea into Queensland, is we’re seeing the proportion of cases of Papua New Guinea-originated infections drop significantly. And that has meant that the system in Queensland has had the stress come off it from the Papua New Guinean arrivals, and that’s proved to be very effective.

Scott Morrison: (28:03)
So what we’ve done all throughout this pandemic is, you’re just learning every day. You make decisions, you monitor them carefully, and you seek to repeat the successes and to improve them. And this type of a pause arrangement will give particularly the facilities up in the Northern Territory and New South Wales the opportunity to ensure that they can deal with the infection cases that currently exist in hotel quarantine, and then enable us to step off from a stronger position in a few weeks’ time.

Speaker 1: (28:32)
Prime Minister, southern Brisbane Olympic games.

Scott Morrison: (28:34)
Sure.

Speaker 1: (28:34)
Can you explain to us, the Queensland government and the federal government why there’s an oversight body that isn’t [inaudible 00:28:40]?

Scott Morrison: (28:40)
Well, what we’re doing in Queensland with the Olympics, and let’s note this week standing in Sydney today, and I don’t think there’s a Sydney sider or an Australian who won’t recognize that what the Sydney Olympics did for Australia as a country. It was a massive success, and it really did elevate Australia’s standing all around the world. And as it did many years ago for Melbourne and now Brisbane, we hope you’ll join that list of Olympic cities, and that will be good for Australia.

Scott Morrison: (29:08)
When the Sydney Olympics were on? Well, the federal government’s involvement with that was quite modest and it was quite limited. What we’ve done in relation to the Brisbane Olympics, is we’ve agreed to enter into a 50-50 arrangement. Now, that means a 50-50 on everything. This is not just 50-50 on funding, this is 50-50 on decisions, 50-50 decisions on appointments to organizing committees. What we want is for this to be a people’s games in the national interest. That means we have to take it out of the relationship of state and federal governments and any Federation tensions. We’ve got to take it out of politics. This is an Olympic infrastructure authority that we anticipate would need to be established probably by statute at both state and federal levels, with equal representation of governance from the federal and state governments. And that means there would be a joint decision on what projects, where, what the scoping is, the costings, the contracting, the delivery. And this would be a highly competent agency, a lot like what we saw here with the Olympic coordination authority in new south Wales.

Scott Morrison: (30:14)
The difference then, that was run by the state government because the state government was paying for it. In this case, if it’s a 50-50 arrangement on funding, there’s a 50-50 agreement on governance of how that infrastructure and how that agency will operate, as well as an equality when it comes to the appointments of persons to the organizing committee between the state and federal government. So a genuine 50-50 partnership is exactly what we’ve proposed to the Queensland state government, and that’s what I understand has been accepted by the previous comments over the last 12 months.

Speaker 2: (30:51)
[crosstalk 00:30:51] Last week, you promised by the end of day…

Press 1: (30:51)
[crosstalk 00:30:51] talk about India.

Scott Morrison: (30:51)
Sorry?

Press 1: (30:51)
Back to India. You rightly pointed out that…

Scott Morrison: (30:52)
Then I’ll have to leave it there, yeah.

Press 1: (30:54)
… 99.99% arrivals have complied, and there’s been a minuscule number of incursions. Isn’t this a massive overreaction to entirely ban citizens from coming back even if the risk is so low? Why are we so risk adverse? And also, to understand the Northern Territory facility hasn’t had any incursions to my knowledge. I think that’s correct?

Scott Morrison: (31:17)
That’s correct, it’s been a very successful facility. But 95%-

Press 1: (31:20)
And so why can’t they go there?

Scott Morrison: (31:21)
95% of the cases currently of what has arrived into that facility have originated in India. And so working closely with the Northern territory government as well as our medical advisors up around that facility, their advice is we need to slow that pace significantly over the next few weeks to ensure that we can maintain the health of people in that facility. So we’re acting on medical advice as we always have when it comes… So especially to that facility, this will also give some breathing space to the New South Wales arrangement, and allow in New South Wales people from other countries to come back and go through that quarantine system.

Scott Morrison: (31:58)
So you’ll see just as many people coming through the New South Wales system. There’ll be less in Western Australia, because they’ve asked to halve their capacity. There are increases in Queensland on the Y, and I hope also in Victoria. So we’ll see more Australians coming back. But those over the next couple of weeks coming directly from India, we will have the pause I think the very sensible health reasons, and that is also based on the advice of our chief medical officer.

Scott Morrison: (32:25)
We’ve always taken a cautious approach. Australia can speak of a performance during the global pandemic on COVID-19 that few countries can. And one of the reasons for that is, we’ve always listened to the medical advice. We take our own decisions, whether it is I the prime minister and the national security committee, foreign minister, the health minister and others, or that we do that as a national cabinet. And that has put Australia in a very strong position of so many nations when it comes to our handling of the pandemic. In Australia, we are living like few countries in the can and do at the moment. I’m very determined that it remains that way. Thanks very much everyone.