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Monday, 03 February 2020
Transcript

Doorstop Interview, Parliament House

Subjects: Coronavirus; Bridget McKenzie.

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

PETER DUTTON:

I would like to say thank you very much to the staff at Australian Border Force. I think the response has been quite remarkable by our officers on the frontline. Obviously we have provided our officers with personal protective equipment, we want to make sure that the staff of the Australian Border Force and all of those that are part of the reception of people coming off flights from China are appropriately protected.

We now know that there are over 14-15,000 cases across the world and over 300 deaths. We know that 12 reported cases in Australia, as well as doctors looking at some others at the moment. We have taken strong measures. I think people should be reassured by the fact that we are providing support to Australians who are stranded offshore, but also proving protection to Australians here and our first priority, absolutely remains, to keep Australians safe.

I again want to say thank you to the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force Michael Outram, but to the Australian Border Force officers. They do a tough job and I think we should really recognise the fact that they have dealt with a very difficult situation and they are professional about the way that they conduct their business and I think that should be acknowledged.

It's also worth noting that many people now are coming from mainland China who have been in China, as at the 1st of February, deciding not to travel and that's been because of the edict issued by the Border Force Commissioner that people shouldn't be uploaded onto flights – so I want to say thank you very much to those carries that have denied uplift – and some people have been turned around as well.

That's the situation as it is at the moment and obviously we continue to take advice from agencies and importantly in this matter from the CMO Dr Brendan Murphy as well.

I'm happy to take any questions.

QUESTION:

There's some confusion yesterday over whether those being evacuated from Wuhan will have to pay for those services?

PETER DUTTON:

I think as the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday; we'd received advice from DFAT that was incorrect and once they corrected that, that position was resolved.

QUESTION:

Minister, Bridget McKenzie has resigned, was that the right decision?

PETER DUTTON:

Well Bridget McKenzie has made a decision to resign and obviously the process followed when Mr Gaetjens investigated the matter. She has made her statement. I think Bridget McKenzie, frankly having seen her work with farmers and continue to really be very passionate about drought affected farmers in particular, I think that should be noted today as well. She has made a mistake, she has owned up to the mistake and she has taken responsibility for that mistake and I think that speaks a lot about her character.

QUESTION:

Would you be urging the Nationals against spilling both leadership positions?

PETER DUTTON:

I don't urge other parties except for the Labor Party – I offer them free advice and regularly – but not to other parties.

QUESTION:

Is Michael McCormack doing a good job?

PETER DUTTON:

Yes he is. Thanks very much.

[ends]