September 25, 2020

Coronavirus: How the government is bringing stranded Australians home | 7NEWS

well here we've all been shutting downin self isolating Australians stranded abroad have faced a much tougher fightas they try to make their way home since March 13, 280, 000 Australians havereturned home 10, 000 of those on government assistant flights from allwe're joined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Marice Payne, welcome Minister – when borders still exist shut around the world there were 51 cruise shipscarrying 6, 400 Australian passengers around the world we know some of theseships were contaminated with covid 19 were you prepared for just what it wasgoing to take to get all these tourists home, these people home? MARISE PAYNE: it has been anextraordinary process Kylie, to be honest it's been reducing that number ofships to today to zero and zero Australians on cruise ships overseaswhich is an enormous relief not just to us in trying to support them but I knowto friends and to family and to those passengers themselves but country bycountry vessel by vessel we have had to negotiate access for berthing for shipswe have had to work out disembarkation procedures working closelywith the cruise lines to ensure that there were flights available for forthose Australians and every single country through this process has haddifferent rules and different requirements so it has required a greatdeal of diplomatic and consular work the occasional phone call from me through aforeign minister counterpart in a number of countries just to make sure that wewere able to facilitate this procedure but I am very relieved and being able tosay that it is now zero ships and zero Australian passengers LARRY: yeah we canimagine the incredible work behind the scenes with all of that now here inAustralia the Ruby Princess cruise ship has been responsible for 19 deaths andwe know border control is not your area nor is health but in your opinion likemost of us do you believe that this is the biggest disaster for Australiathroughout the pandemic? MARISE: I think it is an enormous challenge and of coursethere are now two inquiries underway and I wouldn't want to make any comment thatprejudiced either of those inquiries particularly a police investigation butwe said to Australians on the 9th of March reconsider yourneed to take cruise trips we're very clear about our travel advice and so wehave been tracking this over some period of time and very very consciousparticularly in the in the aftermath of the Diamond Princess and the challengethat presented to Japan and to the many countries who had passengers on boardthat this was extremely important to monitor and to be very careful aboutthat said as I as I mentioned earlier I'm very very pleased that we now haveno vessels at sea with Australian passengersKYLIE: but there are still someAustralians stranded in India what's the situation for those peopleMinister?MARISE: there are Australians in a number of countries India is one thePhilippines is another where we are working very closely with localauthorities and with Australians who are supporting a charter process one charterrun by Lion air arrives in Melbourne just a couple of days ago with about 444Australians on board that that is underway we're also working with Qantasin relation to flight so in both of those countries as well there areenormous logistical challenges inside India inside the Philippines for thatmatter where states have different rules cities themselves have different rulesabout people's capacity to move within those countries we are negotiating thoseevery single Australian who is who wants to board such a charter must make anapplication to the Indian government my post in New Delhi is facilitating thatapplication process that will number in the many many hundreds so very focusedon this and working right across our consoles general and our highcommissioner and his team in India to support those Australians that saidthere are also a large number of Australians at any one time in a countrylike India who are long-term residents of India notwithstanding theirAustralian citizens and I know many of those have indicated to us although theyare registered with the High Commission they do intend to stay in India duringthis period LARRY: how does it work minister, if you do want toget out here how do you have to pay for the flights obviously there's aninsurance how's it work?MARISE: I think almost everybodycircumstance is different there are a number of ways which we have done thisto date in Nepal for example Australians paid for their flights but the HighCommission there had to engage across across the country to bring backAustralians from remote areas like lucre and pokhara and chitwan to make surethat they could be in Katmandu for that flight I think we actually gaveAustralians at the post there in in Kathmandu a light meal when we gatheredthem all together to transport them to the airport it's very much a hands-onmicromanagement process as well where Australians are unable to afford becauseof their circumstances to pay for flights and this is a challenging timeabsolutely no question about that we do have a capacity for what are known astraveler emergency loans and our high commissions and our ambassadors aremaking sure that we are publicizing those from advising Australians thatthey are available in fact I saw some media this week of a gentleman we wereable to help I think on his way back from Cambodiaso that's important as well.

KYLIE: So what you're saying it is case bycase basis because there is some taxpayer anger but if people ignoredtravel advisories and left the country and then expected some sort of freeflight and you know in return but you're what you're saying is you are looking aton a case by case basis can we move on to the China wet market.

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MARISE: very much so KYLIE: moving on to the wet market, set to reopendespite beliefs that this is where the virus originated president Trump ispulled funding from the World Health Organization following that decisionshould Australia do the same where do you stand on that? MARISE: I spoke to Secretaryof State US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this morning actually and we diddiscuss the World Health Organisation's we share some of the concerns of theUnited States and and I do think there are areas of the operation of the WorldHealth Organization that absolutely require review and we have made a numberof decisions based on the health advice we've received here in Australia thathave been made in advance of the World Health Organization for example in indeclaring coronavirus from our past effective as a pandemic closing ourborders for example in relation to travel from wuhan hubei province frommainland china are very early and and were criticised by the World HealthOrganization for doing that that said I don't think that management issuesperhaps in Geneva should have a negative impact on some of the very good workthat we do in association with the World Health Organization in places like thePacific and in Indonesia Australia and New Zealand currently in a very verystrong partnership with the world twelfth Health Organization in thePacific out of their office in Suva to deliver support to the Pacific which isreally really important in the midst of a corona virus pandemic like this and Iwould not like to see that thrown away in the context of of the other issuesconcerning the World Health Organization LARRY: Minister we are still away off a vaccine it seems but international borders could remain shutfor the foreseeable future plenty of our viewers would like to know when they cantravel again when will we be able to fly again? MARISE: well I think that is that is not asimple question and of course I have enormous respect for their many manypeople but particularly the Australians around the world who are working on avaccine for this corona virus in particular more strength to their armfrankly in those efforts in terms of travel I think we need to be guided bythe health advice we see our chief medical officer professor Brendan Murphyhis chief medical officers in the states and territories who are providing goodsolid advice to governments across the country about how to manage theseaspects of coronavirus and of the pandemic that will include when we areable to open up to travel again when we are able to relax any restrictions onour borders I am very much guided by them as we have been all the way throughin terms of our travel advice and warnings and that will continue to bethe case I know Australians are very enthusiastic travelers we've been reallyclear in our travel advice for anyone who is still overseas absolutelyencourage them if they have access to a commercial flight to return to Australianow that's why Qantas and VIRGIN are supporting those hubs out of Londonout of Los Angeles out of Hong Kong and out of Auckland it's very important totake up those opportunities where they're available and in terms of futuretravel well its foreign minister that's obviously a key part of my role of myjob at the moment I'm doing a great deal of video conferencing andteleconferencing today starting with secretary Pompeo this morning tonightending with a meeting of women foreign ministers from around the world at about11 o'clock Australian time to talk about the impact on women and the impact ofmanaging through this virus particularly in developing nations sovideoconferencing until teleconferencing zoom, FaceTime whatever works for you Ithink is an important option to choose at the moment.

KYLIE: as we say goodbye Ministerwe know you must be working around the clock at the moment what's keeping youawake at night?MARISE: what is keeping me awake at night is the work that we have stillto do we have a big job that continues ahead of us and also recognizing thatthis is a an impact on the world which will which will have significant flow-oneffects to international relationships to our stability and security in our ownregion so focused on supporting our friends in the Pacific our friends inSoutheast Asia Indonesia in particular Timor Leste Papua New Guinea making surethat where we are able to provide support Australia is is delivering thatand then of course looking at the path beyond how we do move beyond coronavirusthat experience and how we do re-engage and make sure that the things that areimportant to us as Australians our values the rule oflaw the human rights that that we focus on still a core part of how we dobusiness LARRY: Minister it is the morning show we'dlike to end on a lighter note if humanly possiblewe're celebrating 30 years today of Wilson Phillips classic (song) 'Hold On' thiscould almost be an anthem minister couldnĂ­t as I as I desperately try andfind a link to this question for you couldn't hold on be an anthem ministerand just just trying to keep a nice clean clip for media watch here what doyou think? MARISE: absolutely I think Wilson Phillips hold on maybe frompeople more than one more day yes absolutely I did see an amazing pieceover Easter from the Barnes family Jimmy and Jane Barnes mahalia and her husbandother members of the family doing the war is overphenomenal piece of Australian music I'd recommend that for your viewers as wellLARRY: well thank you for not only indulging me but for saving me from thereparticularly prickly question we do appreciate your time we know that verybusy you are and good luck with all those big decisions you've got to maketoday and in the future we appreciate that MARISE: thank you both.

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