RADIO INTERVIEW - 2GB DRIVE WITH JIM WILSON - FRIDAY, 31 JULY 2020

31 July 2020

SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY

DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

 

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2GB DRIVE WITH JIM WILSON

FRIDAY, 31 JULY 2020

 

SUBJECTS: The need for Scott Morrison to apologise for the Ruby Princess; Peter Dutton’s failure to do interviews.

 

JIM WILSON, HOST: We're talking 1000 cases and more than 30 deaths. Today, it's claimed a senior Border Force officer allowed sick passengers to disembark after misinterpreting flu test results. It's reported the officer mistakenly thought the test results showed some passengers were negative for coronavirus when, in fact, they'd only tested negative for the flu. Now, we invited Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, on the program today, but he declined. A spokesman for the Minister's office said "we have explained the role of the ABF on numerous occasions." The spokesman said it was "quite concerning that Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally, still doesn't understand the Acts and the role of each agency within the Acts and suggested that was something that we could be asked—or that she could be asked. Well, guess what? We're more than happy to do that, and Senator Kristina Keneally is on the line, Senator Keneally, welcome to Drive.

 

KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Good afternoon, Jim. Good afternoon to you listeners, too.

 

WILSON: The Minister's office, Kristina, tells us you still don't understand the legislation and the role of each agency, what do you say to that?

 

KENEALLY: Well, I know how to read the Acts, and I understand the role of each agency. I also know how to read Government documents. And, Jim, I actually agree with the Minister. He's right. It's not the ABF's job to give clearance for cruise ships to disembark their passengers. It's not the ABF's job--the Australian Border Force's job—to be checking the human health reports. But in fact, I can read the Government documents that say that is exactly what they did. This isn't a question about what their legal authority is. This is about what they did on the morning of 19 March onboard the Ruby Princess. Let me just explain briefly, Jim, for your listeners. We've got some Government documents. They came through Freedom of Information. Some of them came from the Government's own submission to the New South Wales Commission of Inquiry. Those Government documents clearly show there were Australian Border Force officers and Federal Department of Agriculture officers on board the Ruby Princess the morning of 19 March, not New South Wales Health. It was the federal Australian Border Force officers who mistook those flu tests for coronavirus tests and reported that everyone had tested negative for coronavirus. It was federal Agriculture officers that didn't do the proper health checks they were required to do for coronavirus, and it was the Australian Border Force who said "yes" when the Ruby Princess asked if they could disembark their passengers...

 

WILSON: This is all, sorry Kristina, this is... sure. This is all through Freedom of Information. Do we know how the Border Force officer came to mistakenly authorise the disembarkation of the passengers?

 

KENEALLY: Well, he was on board the ship, he received from the ship's doctor the flu tests. He misunderstood them to be coronavirus tests. He reported that back up to superiors. And, unfortunately, and I don't blame this officer, because quite frankly in the middle of a global pandemic, when the Prime Minister had said just four days earlier that Australian Border Force were in direct command of cruise ships, they didn't give these poor Border Force frontline officers the training or the support or the resources they needed. They just sent this poor guy onto a ship and put him in essentially in charge of making this really life and death decision with no backup, no double-lock system, no double-checking. You know, I really feel for the guy and I feel for the Australian Border Force officers who were put in this terrible situation and that's why I say the Prime Minister and Peter Dutton need to not just apologise to the Australian people, but also apologise to Australian Border Force.

 

WILSON: Well, we invited the Minister on the program. As I said, he declined. The Border Force has strongly denied the new claim, Senator Keneally, they've said no ABF officer had authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess. What do you make of that claim?

 

KENEALLY: I agree with them. They didn't have the authority, but they did it anyway. That's the point here, Jim. The Australian Border Force's statement, you know, which I'd like to know how much involvement the Minister had in drafting it, and his office. You know, it's very Trumpian. It sounds like just a complete denial of reality, because it's there in black and white. It is there in Government FOI documents, in black and white, that that's exactly what happened. In fact, Jim, I can tell you that the Government documents show not only did the Australian Border Force officers receive the tests, the flu tests that they thought were COVID tests, they actually sat there on the ship and wrote their own little Excel spreadsheet to explain what the tests were and why they said that they were negative for coronavirus...

 

WILSON: So where does New South Wales Health fit into all this, Senator?

 

KENEALLY: I'm really glad you asked that question, because it's an important one. This is really important, and I'm not saying New South Wales Health doesn't have some, some blame here, because they do. But in their role, they Act under the federal Biosecurity Act, the federal biosecurity laws. They are delegated officers under the federal Act, and in the days before a cruise ship arrives they communicate with the cruise ship. Now you are right, New South Wales Health, they deemed the ship "low risk", and New South Wales house, they didn't actually convey that "low risk" standing to Australian Border Force or to the Federal Department of Agriculture. So New South Wales Health didn't do their job properly, but they weren't on board the ship on the morning of 19 Marchbecause it's not their job on the ship. The borders are a Commonwealth responsibility, which is why Australian Border Force are onboard the ship. It's why Federal Department of Agriculture biosecurity officers are on board the ship when it arrives, and they're the ones that made the decision, the Australian Border Force officers made the decision to allow people to start disembarking the ship around 6:30 that morning.

 

WILSON: We appreciate your time this afternoon, Senator.

 

KENEALLY: My absolute pleasure, thanks for having me on, Jim and I hope you get the Minister on at some point, too.

 

WILSON: Well, we did invite him on, as I mentioned, and he declined our invitation, but I know that he does regular spots with Ray Hadley, so I'm looking forward to having a chat to the Minister Peter Dutton.

 

ENDS

SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY

DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

 

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

2GB DRIVE WITH JIM WILSON

FRIDAY, 31 JULY 2020

 

SUBJECTS: The need for Scott Morrison to apologise for the Ruby Princess; Peter Dutton’s failure to do interviews.

 

JIM WILSON, HOST: We're talking 1000 cases and more than 30 deaths. Today, it's claimed a senior Border Force officer allowed sick passengers to disembark after misinterpreting flu test results. It's reported the officer mistakenly thought the test results showed some passengers were negative for coronavirus when, in fact, they'd only tested negative for the flu. Now, we invited Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, on the program today, but he declined. A spokesman for the Minister's office said "we have explained the role of the ABF on numerous occasions." The spokesman said it was "quite concerning that Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally, still doesn't understand the Acts and the role of each agency within the Acts and suggested that was something that we could be asked—or that she could be asked. Well, guess what? We're more than happy to do that, and Senator Kristina Keneally is on the line, Senator Keneally, welcome to Drive.

 

KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Good afternoon, Jim. Good afternoon to you listeners, too.

 

WILSON: The Minister's office, Kristina, tells us you still don't understand the legislation and the role of each agency, what do you say to that?

 

KENEALLY: Well, I know how to read the Acts, and I understand the role of each agency. I also know how to read Government documents. And, Jim, I actually agree with the Minister. He's right. It's not the ABF's job to give clearance for cruise ships to disembark their passengers. It's not the ABF's job--the Australian Border Force's job—to be checking the human health reports. But in fact, I can read the Government documents that say that is exactly what they did. This isn't a question about what their legal authority is. This is about what they did on the morning of 19 March onboard the Ruby Princess. Let me just explain briefly, Jim, for your listeners. We've got some Government documents. They came through Freedom of Information. Some of them came from the Government's own submission to the New South Wales Commission of Inquiry. Those Government documents clearly show there were Australian Border Force officers and Federal Department of Agriculture officers on board the Ruby Princess the morning of 19 March, not New South Wales Health. It was the federal Australian Border Force officers who mistook those flu tests for coronavirus tests and reported that everyone had tested negative for coronavirus. It was federal Agriculture officers that didn't do the proper health checks they were required to do for coronavirus, and it was the Australian Border Force who said "yes" when the Ruby Princess asked if they could disembark their passengers...

 

WILSON: This is all, sorry Kristina, this is... sure. This is all through Freedom of Information. Do we know how the Border Force officer came to mistakenly authorise the disembarkation of the passengers?

 

KENEALLY: Well, he was on board the ship, he received from the ship's doctor the flu tests. He misunderstood them to be coronavirus tests. He reported that back up to superiors. And, unfortunately, and I don't blame this officer, because quite frankly in the middle of a global pandemic, when the Prime Minister had said just four days earlier that Australian Border Force were in direct command of cruise ships, they didn't give these poor Border Force frontline officers the training or the support or the resources they needed. They just sent this poor guy onto a ship and put him in essentially in charge of making this really life and death decision with no backup, no double-lock system, no double-checking. You know, I really feel for the guy and I feel for the Australian Border Force officers who were put in this terrible situation and that's why I say the Prime Minister and Peter Dutton need to not just apologise to the Australian people, but also apologise to Australian Border Force.

 

WILSON: Well, we invited the Minister on the program. As I said, he declined. The Border Force has strongly denied the new claim, Senator Keneally, they've said no ABF officer had authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess. What do you make of that claim?

 

KENEALLY: I agree with them. They didn't have the authority, but they did it anyway. That's the point here, Jim. The Australian Border Force's statement, you know, which I'd like to know how much involvement the Minister had in drafting it, and his office. You know, it's very Trumpian. It sounds like just a complete denial of reality, because it's there in black and white. It is there in Government FOI documents, in black and white, that that's exactly what happened. In fact, Jim, I can tell you that the Government documents show not only did the Australian Border Force officers receive the tests, the flu tests that they thought were COVID tests, they actually sat there on the ship and wrote their own little Excel spreadsheet to explain what the tests were and why they said that they were negative for coronavirus...

 

WILSON: So where does New South Wales Health fit into all this, Senator?

 

KENEALLY: I'm really glad you asked that question, because it's an important one. This is really important, and I'm not saying New South Wales Health doesn't have some, some blame here, because they do. But in their role, they Act under the federal Biosecurity Act, the federal biosecurity laws. They are delegated officers under the federal Act, and in the days before a cruise ship arrives they communicate with the cruise ship. Now you are right, New South Wales Health, they deemed the ship "low risk", and New South Wales house, they didn't actually convey that "low risk" standing to Australian Border Force or to the Federal Department of Agriculture. So New South Wales Health didn't do their job properly, but they weren't on board the ship on the morning of 19 Marchbecause it's not their job on the ship. The borders are a Commonwealth responsibility, which is why Australian Border Force are onboard the ship. It's why Federal Department of Agriculture biosecurity officers are on board the ship when it arrives, and they're the ones that made the decision, the Australian Border Force officers made the decision to allow people to start disembarking the ship around 6:30 that morning.

 

WILSON: We appreciate your time this afternoon, Senator.

 

KENEALLY: My absolute pleasure, thanks for having me on, Jim and I hope you get the Minister on at some point, too.

 

WILSON: Well, we did invite him on, as I mentioned, and he declined our invitation, but I know that he does regular spots with Ray Hadley, so I'm looking forward to having a chat to the Minister Peter Dutton.

 

ENDS