3 January 2023
Subjects: Labor’s decision to ignore the Chief Medical Officer’s advice
KRISTIE LLOYD: Thanks so much for your time this morning. What do you make of this latest decision?
ANNE RUSTON: Well, it's extremely confusing for Australians when, you know, a couple of days ago, we were told that there was no need for concern. There was no risk to Australians of what was happening in China at the moment. And then completely against the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, supported by the Chief Health Officers of the states and territories, the Minister has made a decision to impose some restrictions on people arriving to Australia from China. And I think you know, Australians have got every right to be confused and to be expecting the Government to explain why they have acted against the medical advice.
LLOYD: And do you think this will have an impact on people from China potentially looking to travel out to Australia? Do you think this is going to discourage people?
RUSTON: Well, it's very concerning, particularly in the first instance for Chinese Australians who are returning or seeking to return back to Australia after they've spent Christmas with loved ones in China. The disruption to their travel plans, we have no real information in relation to what we can expect from airlines in relation to the support that they might get, how they're supposed to be able to provide the information in relation to their testing, or for that matter what's happening in relation to cancellation or rescheduling of flights. So very concerned about Australians who are seeking to return to Australia, but it's just the inconsistency of the messaging and the breach of faith with the Australian public. This government, as did the previous government, made a commitment to Australians that we're going to move to live with COVID. And at the first sign of anything, this government has fallen over, put in restrictions, and as I said, completely against the medical advice that has stood Australia in such good stead over the last two and a half years.
LLOYD: And does this sort of set a bit of a precedent now for potentially further outbreaks in other countries?
RUSTON: Well, I think these are the sorts of questions that the Government needs to answer. Are they just going to completely ignore the health advice going forward? You know, what can Australians expect when, inevitably, the pandemic will change and it will evolve over coming months and years. It's been with us for nearly three years now and we can expect it will change over time into the future, and Australians really do need to have some certainty about what their government is going to do. Previously, we'd always been very confident that we would rely on the health advice and we would respond to the health advice. And equally, I think Australians have got every right to expect that their government has a plan in place, and the response that we've seen over the last few days seems like they're making up policy on the run. They're just making it up as they go. And it really does look tremendously chaotic. I think Australians should be very concerned about the fact that their government doesn't appear to have a plan.
LLOYD: Alright, Shadow Minister Anne Ruston, thanks so much for your time today.
RUSTON: My pleasure. Thanks Kristie.