6PR Perth Live, Oliver Peterson

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Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC

Minister for Defence

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Nicky Hamer (Minister Reynolds’ Office): +61 437 989 927

Defence Media: media@defence.gov.au

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12 February 2020

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OLIVER PETERSON:         The New York Post is reporting that Dave Binskin and his wife, Jan, they are a couple who are currently on-board, quarantined on that Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan. They've had some wine delivered to themselves via a drone. They reached out to the Naked Wine Club and much to their delight, they received two bottles of Pinot Noir that was delivered to their cabin door by drone. Now that is a novel way, I suppose, to entertain yourself day 16 of 14 that they've been confined to the cabin. It comes as there are now four Australians, four new Australians on-board that particular vessel who are confirmed to now be off the ship because they have the Coronavirus. Thirty-nine additional passengers and crew were leaving the ship to be quarantined. The Defence Minister is Linda Reynolds and she's live on the radio this afternoon. Hello, Minister.

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Good afternoon, Oly.

OLIVER PETERSON:         You can understand those passengers on the ship getting a bit frustrated. Would you ever drone in a couple of bottles of wine if you were in their circumstances?

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Great Aussie ingenuity at its best, I think. But look, I think it has been a very busy summer for the Australian Government and also for the Australian Defence Force with the support to the bushfires, the unprecedented support the ADF have provided supporting the Coronavirus actions by the Australian Government and everything else that Defence is engaged in. So it has been a very busy time.

OLIVER PETERSON:         Is the Australian Defence Force involved with the activities on Christmas Island and in Darwin at the moment with regards to those Australians who have returned and are in quarantine in case they might have Coronavirus?

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Yes they are, Oly, and they have been since the beginning. So once we started getting word of the Coronavirus issue coming out of Wuhan, the Australian Government was really quick and is taking the decisive action which of course has been based all the way through, as this has emerged, on medical advice. But the ADF has been right there from the beginning. We have been providing, as we have in the bushfires, logistical support. We've been providing all the garrison services at Christmas Island and now in Darwin. So it's a Home Affairs lead in terms of the quarantine, but the ADF are right – in fact, there's 165 ADF personnel who’ve been supporting that quarantine activities.

OLIVER PETERSON:         Those on board that cruise ship off Japan, if they return to Australia, will they be able to go about their daily business or may they be put into quarantine themselves when they're back on Australian soil?

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Well, look, it just depends on how long they've been in quarantine for in Japan. One of the things that we know at the moment is that we're working off the medical advice that you need 14 days quarantine to ensure that you are free of Coronavirus and then you can certainly go about your business. So I feel desperately sorry, as I think we all do, for the passengers who went for a trip of a lifetime and then have got caught up in this. But I've got to say DFAT is working very closely with the Japanese authorities and all of the people on board. The Australians have been provided with consular assistance and being in Japan they are getting – those who have been diagnosed with Coronavirus have been taken to Japanese medical facilities. So it just depends, if they've been in quarantine for 14 days when they return to Australia they'll be fine.

OLIVER PETERSON:         Channel Nine political editor Chris Uhlmann has an exclusive interview tonight with Michael McCormack, the Deputy Prime Minister. Have a listen to this.

CHRIS UHLMANN:             Are you expecting another challenge?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:  Time will tell.

CHRIS UHLMANN:             Yeah, but you are expecting another challenge aren't you? And part of what you're doing now –

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:  Time will tell. I think people should focus on what matters.

CHRIS UHLMANN:             Is it in the best interests of Australia and the National Party for you to stay on as the Leader of the National Party and the Deputy Prime Minister?


CHRIS UHLMANN:             Will you last?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:  Absolutely. You haven't seen, you haven't seen just how much of a fighter I am.

OLIVER PETERSON:         Linda Reynolds, do you expect the Deputy Prime Minister to be challenged again in his own party?

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Look, this is squarely an issue for the National Party. And I was pleased to see them deal with it so quickly. But look, can I say all this has not been a distraction for me. As I've said, we have had a very busy time with the ADF. I'm not distracted, the PM's not distracted and as you saw today and this week, in fact, we are just getting on with the business of dealing with what's important.

OLIVER PETERSON:         Sure you're not distracted but you'd rather it wouldn't be happening.

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Look I'm not going to speculate on – far be it from me to speculate on what's happening within the National Party. But, look, they did deal with it quickly. And we've got on with the job.

OLIVER PETERSON:         Llew O'Brien as Deputy Speaker, that was a distraction for the Prime Minister.

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Well, as I said, the Nationals have without question had a very bumpy week. But again they've dealt with the issues very quickly. And the business of Government has gone on.

OLIVER PETERSON:         They've got their 100-year celebration, they were going to have a party room meeting or similar before that, before the media got wind of the fact that taxpayer dollars were going to be spent on this particular trip. It's not a very good look, is it?

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Well, look, all MPs as you would expect and all Australians would expect to have to abide by very strict rules. There is an independent umpire, the Parliamentary Expense Authority, who I understand was reviewing the situation and of course you'd expect MPs to adhere by the rules. But I understand that whether it's a determination or whether the party have just decided to do this themselves, but they will be paying themselves.

OLIVER PETERSON:         You're on your way to Munich. Why? Where are you off to? What are you doing?

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Well I'm in Melbourne at the moment en route to Munich and I'm going to the Munich Security Conference, which is one of the world's most important security dialogues and it brings together global leaders in government, business and academia. So the things I'll be participating in is I'll be highlighting Australia's contribution to international security, which as you and I hope all Australians know is very significant and we'll be working with like-minded partners talking about common challenges and really promoting international stability and peace.

OLIVER PETERSON:         Minister, we wish you well and I appreciate your time on Perth Live this afternoon. Travel safe.

LINDA REYNOLDS:            Great to talk with you, Oly.

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