Transcript Press Conference

  • Transcript, E&OE
19 August 2021

Prime Minister: Good afternoon everyone. I'm joined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Health. I want to give an update on the operations of the airlift out of Afghanistan and also to report on a number of matters in relation to COVID pandemic management.

The situation in Afghanistan remains extremely dangerous and extremely complex. I particularly want to thank our partners, and especially the United States and United Kingdom. I particularly also want to thank His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, all of whom are such essential partners for the operations we're currently engaged in. Of course, the Crown Prince, in terms of our operations at Al Minhad. I'll be speaking to him later this evening. And, in particular, the UK, who I'll outline in just a second the arrangements we have had with them in the last 24 hours which enabled us to get additional people out of Kabul last night. But, of course, the US and UK, through their military presence on the ground, continues to provide the security around the airfield that is enabling these operations to continue, and we expect to be able to continue them now throughout the course of this week and into next week. But, we are moving urgently, safely, because we're taking nothing for granted. The weather is closing in and that's going to present some challenges over the next few days, but, equally, the situation can always turn, and so we're moving as quickly as we possibly can. I'll be also speaking to Prime Minister Johnson on these matters this evening.

Last night, 40 ADF personnel were deployed into Kabul, in addition to those already there, to support our efforts with additional security. A provisions drop was also included that, that was through the UK air asset, that would also brought in the Australian ADF, to provide relief to those on the ground, including those we're providing assistance to. On that same flight back out of Kabul that night, 76 people were evacuated, including Australian citizens and Afghan visa holders. They have been transferred to our base in Al Minhad. We have scheduled today a first flight to leave Al Minhad and come to Australia to Perth. It has not left yet, but we anticipate that it should leave in the course of the next few hours and it'll find its way to Australia, and I want to thank the arrangements we have with the WA Government to provide for those quarantine facilities over and above the cap. People are also receiving medical treatment in Dubai. As you can imagine, people who we're taking out of Kabul, we're taking out of a very dangerous set of circumstances and we're making sure that any injuries they have are being attended to and, but you can also imagine there's quite a bit of trauma and, and quite a, they're in a highly anxious state, and I want to thank all of the people we have on the ground there in Al Minhad, who are, who are receiving them and preparing them and getting them ready for their onward flight to Australia.

We have three additional aircraft now that have been relocated. We also have, which includes the KC-30, the air to air refueller, which has already been involved in operations supporting the airlift for other allies and partners. A cruiser also in place for those three additional aircraft and that, their access to the Kabul airstrip at HKIA will be very dependent on slot management as well as the weather. Now, I need to stress that the apron that you have there cannot take too many planes at any one time, and so slots are being allotted for to get on to ground and to unload and upload and get out. And, there are many countries who are involved in these operations, and so the windows are very narrow and we have to take the slots when we're there and move when we're able to do that, and I want to thank the ADF for the way that they're moving swiftly to achieve that outcome.

Now, on the other matter, of course, on COVID, today Australia has hit some important goals. 16 million vaccines now distributed, administered right across the country, over 16 million. That's 215 every minute is now being distributed. 309,000 in just one day. 215 each and every minute. These are extraordinary marks that the national vaccination program is now achieving. One in two eligible Australians have now had their first dose. One in two. There are more people who are eligible who've had their vaccine than have not had their vaccine in Australia today. That is a major turning point, that is a major beachhead that is being gained in the national vaccination program to see this realised.

Just going through some of the state figures that relate to that. I want to note that the ACT is leading the country overall and is ahead of the national average on the first doses, with 56.4 per cent of the population with one dose, and 32 per cent with two doses. Tassie, while leading on the two dose score, is also doing very well, with 54 per cent with one vaccination. The Northern Territory is going strong, with almost one in every two Territorians with one dose. Victorian is right on the cusp with having more Victorians vaccinated than not - 49.3 per cent in Victoria. In South Australia, more than 17,000 were vaccinated yesterday, closing in on that 50 per cent mark. Queensland and Western Australia still have some ground to make up on the national average, and we want to continue to encourage them through their national vaccination program and the efforts that are being undertaken. In New South Wales, the daily rates in New South Wales, which I want to stress are predominantly being done through the GPs and the pharmacies, almost at a rate, Greg, of two to one. That's where the doses are being administered. The state vaccine hubs, they're doing a great job. But, the lion's share of what's being done in New New South Wales is actually being done through the GPs and pharmacies, and that's very important. And, overall in New South Wales, two in every five jabs yesterday were delivered in New South Wales, and that's more than 132,000. And, we are seeing those queues of young people, those vaccines, of Pfizer vaccines we were able to get from Poland, they're there now. And, they're rolling out across those state hubs. There's 117,000 arriving at Qudos Bank Arena, 98,000 at the South Western Sydney Vaccination Centre, 54,000 at Sydney Olympic Park, 28,000 to RPA, and hundreds of thousands more in coming days. And, so, we've seen those scenes today of younger people turning up for those and that's very welcome news, and we thank people for responding to that call, and I'll be able to reassure the Polish Prime Minister that that assistance has been taken up very, very readily. And, so, thank you to everybody who's been doing that.

I also want to note that the National Security Committee is meeting every day and dealing with both of these issues, as we have for some time now. We agreed today, and the Cabinet also met today, to affirm that we will be moving to opening up 16 to 39-year-olds for the balance of the program. We intend for that to commence on the 30th of August. Now, I want to stress, do not make a booking yet. We will advise when bookings can be made. It's not today, not today. We will advise of when that time will come over the course of the next week. But, just advising you, it has been a question that has been put to me for some time, as when we would bring that 16 to 39s forward. Well, the question is usually about 20 to 39s, but we've decided to go all the way through for 16 to 39s. That's some 8.6 million Australians that are in that group - 1.2 million between the ages of 16 and 18, I understand, and between 19 and 39, yeah, there's about 7.4 million, sorry, for that next group, up to the 20s. So, 8.6 million extra getting access to the program at the end of August.

With that, oh sorry there's one other point I wanted to stress, and Greg will probably want to talk a bit more about this. We're taking very seriously the issue of immunisation on these issues - vaccination of our children. I'm anticipating that ATAGI advice, certainly in an interim level, to be available very soon. And, then, we've been already working, through General Frewen and his team and the states, to see how we would implement a vaccination program for children, that is those aged 12 to 15. And, we'll have further things to say about that once we've received that, at least that interim ATAGI advice, then we'll, they'll give us their full advice and we'll take, be taking further steps there. But, I just want to assure, particularly parents, you know, vaccinating children is something we take really seriously and we do it very carefully. And, so, we're just making sure that we're getting the right advice and then we can put the right plans in place and move on those vaccinations in the safest and most effective way possible. But, with that, I'll hand you over to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Thanks very much, Prime Minister. And, as the Prime Minister has said, the situation in Afghanistan certainly remains very fluid and very complex and challenging in terms of the work that we are doing with partners. I want to thank the officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, from the Department of Defence and the ADF, and the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force for their ongoing efforts. We are working very hard together to support the operations of the Australian activities.

I also want to join with the Prime Minister in acknowledging and thanking the United Kingdom for their assistance overnight. There is a lot of work being done where countries can help each other to make sure that we are able to do that.

We absolutely know there are continuing significant issues ongoing with access to Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we have seen the reports of those. Overnight, officials from partner countries have met and are working hard together on the ground, particularly led by the United States, to address this, and DFAT Secretary Kathryn Campbell participated in that meeting. Ensuring the security of the airport is our priority, and I particularly thank the United States for their effort in that regard. We're also working with other countries now to share lists of potential passengers and to coordinate our information and rescue efforts, as we're able to. That is important because of the multiplicity of entry points, the multiplicity of locations across the airport, where potential passengers are being dealt with.

We're working with our counterparts to ensure that we have a staging area, a designated space at Hamid Karzai International Airport for our Australian citizens and visa holders, and as the Prime Minister said, also transporting supplies to support that. There are some who are, who will be waiting for periods of time - not long periods of time, it's not possible to do that - but we want to make sure that we can make them as comfortable as possible.

We are continuing to contact those Australians and visa holders and to support them, where we are able to, to get through those checkpoints and into the airport. That is very much a work, a piece of work that we must be doing with partners, particularly the United States, in terms of the security aspects of that, of those movements.

We have been concerned by reports that the anti-Taliban protests in some cities have been met by force, and including the fact there have been deaths amongst peaceful demonstrators in Jalalabad, and Taliban troops reported to have used gunfire and violence to attempt to control crowds around the airport. So, suffice to say that this is still, as I said, a very complex and very challenging environment in which to work, and our officials are doing an extraordinary job in their support to Australians and their coordination with other partners.

The other thing, Prime Minister, I wanted to update on briefly is to confirm the DFAT facilitated flight arrived from Denpasar to Darwin last night with 186 passengers on board. Today our fifth facilitated flight from Johannesburg also landed in Darwin with 172 passengers. We have seven more facilitated flights scheduled in August from London, from New Delhi and from Istanbul, and 16 DFAT flights are scheduled to arrive in the Northern Territory in the next month from India, from Turkey, from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Germany and other locations. Thus far, during the pandemic, we've facilitated 164 flights on which over 24,500 Australians have returned.

So, to just summarise very briefly in relation to the Afghanistan position, our ongoing activities are underway 24/7 - 24/7 here in Canberra and 24/7 in the Middle East and in Kabul. I want to thank again all those officials. It is a very challenging task but we are making good progress working with partners and staying in touch with our Australian citizens and with our visa holders.

Prime Minister: Thanks. Greg.

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care: Thanks PM, thanks Marise. Over the last 24 hours, 309,010 Australians stepped forward to be vaccinated. Every one of those is a dose of hope. Every one of those means that more individual Australians are protected, but more Australians collectively are protected. To think of it this way, it's almost exactly the population of Wollongong. To put it in context, on a per capita basis, it's the equivalent of four million doses being delivered in a day in the United States. A figure, I think, that was, according to the CDC, achieved on only five occasions. And, so, these rates are now at some of the highest levels that we had hoped, but we're doing them instead of in October, in August. So, I want to thank everybody involved in the program. What that means is we've now, as the PM said, been able to pass 16 million doses or 16.2 million doses have now been administered. And, perhaps most importantly, more than half of the eligible Australians have stepped
forward to be vaccinated, and we can see that every day Australians are coming forward in enormous numbers. So, 50.2 per cent of Australians, or 10.3 million Australians, have had their first dose amongst the eligible population.

One other critical thing is it's being sustained. And, so, over a 10-day period now, we've had more than 2.4 million doses delivered. That's almost the population of Brisbane in 10 days. These analogies just give a sense to the Australian people of how many of their fellow citizens are coming forward. So, it's a club you want to be part of. That's, I think, the key message.

In order to assist that, the second shipment of European Pfizer, very generously sponsored by the Polish Government, has now been batch tested, cleared, approved by the TGA and is being distributed. And, that will also help more people, and that's what's helped with the ability, as the Prime Minister's announced, to move as of August the 30th, to open for the 16 to 39-year-olds.

Now, in terms of the response with regards to New South Wales, it's been agreed that New South Wales and the Commonwealth will set up a joint operation centre for western and far western New South Wales, based out of Dubbo. We thank them for agreeing to that. In particular, that will lead now to the ADF, the first ADF team is on the ground. There will be 50 ADF who are involved in compliance and welfare checking. That process has already started and those teams are building up. The first of the five teams for medical assistance has arrived, been trained and will be deployed tomorrow. And, these five teams of up to 14 each will assist with vaccination, testing and, if required, clinical assistance. And, the first of the AUSMAT teams is due to commence operations tomorrow, and there will be five teams in all.

So, these things are very important. There are 118 Commonwealth clinics through GPs, pharmacies, Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, and Commonwealth vaccination clinics across western and far western New South Wales. And, we're currently going through 29 Royal Flying Doctor Service visits to different communities from the 12th of August to the 31st of August in western and far western New South Wales. So, important numbers that actually represent individuals who are being protected.

Journalist: Prime Minister, can I ask about ...

Prime Minister: Just before I take questions, one other point I should have mentioned. Just before coming to this press conference I joined Minister Hawke and Assistant Minister Wood and Paris Aristotle in a hook up with Afghan community leaders, talking through the issues which we raised yesterday, the additional, well, the 3,000 places that we're making available this year in the program for Afghan nationals to become, come to Australia as part of the humanitarian program. We see that as a floor, not as a ceiling, and so we believe we can achieve more than three. And, if the overall program has to be expanded to accommodate additional, then it will be. But, we are following the same process that we did previously on the Syrian and Iraqi intake by working through community groups to identify individuals, those with contacts and linkages to Australia, family members, things of that nature, so we're working closely with those community groups to that end. I recall that we went through that program last time, we we did 3,000 in the first year of that larger intake that ended up happening, and, so, you know, the fact that we've committed to those 3,000 this year is commensurate with that level. And, our humanitarian program runs every single year, and I foresee us continuing to, the Afghan cohort in our humanitarian program having a very strong presence in years to come, and we'll work through with that. But, I want to thank those Afghan leaders for coming together so quickly today, and for Minister Hawke gathering together in that way, and Paris Aristotle, as always, on the job day one. Thank you very much, Paris … Sorry, Sarah, sorry.

Journalist: Just on childhood vaccination, could I just, there's been a lot of concern expressed by Kerry Chant about transmission in that particular sector. 150 child care centres closed nationally as a result of COVID. Could I just ask, what is the plan for vaccinating children younger than 16? How does that process work? Will that happen before adults get boosters next year? And, the second part of that, I guess, is vaccine mandates in the sector. Is that something that you would support given the rate of transmission that we're seeing, for child care workers, yes?

Prime Minister: [Inaudible] First of all, as I said before, we are, the advice from ATAGI for vaccination of children ages 12 to 15 is is imminent, certainly as an interim form of advice. Our Cabinet today considered this and reaffirmed our priority of ensuring that we'll be able to move to vaccinate children, where we believe it's safe to do so, and that's why we're waiting on that advice. Presently, vaccines for those aged 12 to 15 are those with other health conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, those in very remote communities. And, so, before we move to a more mass scale vaccination of children aged 12 to 15, we'll take that ATAGI advice. Already, General Frewen has been working with the states and territories on their plans for how that can be implemented. I am keen to see that occur this year. I think it's important that it happens this year. We need to keep pace with the national vaccination program, certainly. And, as Professor McVernon's advice to us was also so clear - one of the best ways to protect your children is to get vaccinated yourself. That was one of the clear pieces of advice coming out of the Doherty modelling, that one of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of COVID-19 to children is for parents themselves to be vaccinated. And, that's why it was her advice that we should move particularly into those 20 to 39-year-old age groups, and particularly the 30 to 39 age group, to ensure that we were capturing those as a target of our immunisation vaccination program. So, that plan will be coming, will be forthcoming very soon. We know how important it is, but it has to be conditioned on the medical advice that is still coming on those issues. We've been looking very closely at the US situation and what the experience there has been. The UK and Australia are currently in the same position in terms of how we're managing those vaccinations. And, I'm sure, no doubt, it's something that I'll discuss with Prime Minister Johnson this evening. But, Greg …

Journalist: And, on vaccine mandates?

Prime Minister: On vaccine mandates, well, we would follow the advice of the AHPPC on that. They're the ones who, when we put these questions to them, they consider them. They've only recommended mandatory vaccinations in two areas, and that is for aged care workers and for those working in quarantine. They have not recommended, the medical advice has not been to recommend or mandate vaccinations in other sectors on public health grounds.

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care: So, look, just very briefly, firstly, vaccination has already been opened for children 12 to 15 who have an underlying medical condition, Indigenous children and children in remote areas. So, that's approximately 220,000 kids. Secondly, ATAGI has been meeting this week to consider the international evidence. We already have TGA approval, and if they provide that advice - and we're expecting that advice over the course of the next week, if not earlier - but if they provide that advice, firstly, we have the vaccines to cover children. Secondly, we have a plan. The plan is pretty simple, it really involves two parts. In the same way that whether you're 12 or 22 or 52 or 72, you can go to your doctor, you can go to your pharmacy, you can go to your, you can go to the state or Commonwealth clinic, all of those will be available for children. And, in addition, if states are able to do this, then we expect that many of the states and territories will offer school-based programs as well.

Journalist: Prime Minister, thank you. Can you tell us what the national public health strategy is at the moment? Because, Gladys Berejiklian said this morning that COVID zero is no longer realistic. That's not what Daniel Andrews and Andrew Barr and Mark McGowan are saying. So, have we moved past a national approach, or can you articulate what it is? And, also, in relation to Doherty, which you're, you're mentioning frequently, other state leaders are mentioning frequently, that 70 per cent reopening threshold. Is that actually a realistic scenario to put before people? Because, my understanding of that Doherty work is that they didn't envisage hundreds of active infections at the time we hit 70 per cent. So, the question is ...

Prime Minister: [Inaudible] of infections at the time, and they're, and they're constantly updating their advice to us. But, there is no change to the 70 per cent threshold that has been set for the national plan, or indeed the 80 per cent threshold. And, as has been remarked upon by many commentators, and I have and Greg has as well, it's not 70 per cent and nothing else is going on. I mean, you still have to be managing the COVID in the community at 70 per cent, and indeed at 80 per cent. It just means that you don't, particularly at 80 per cent, have to have lockdowns to do that. There are other ways of managing things at that level, which means that you don't have to have those lockdowns, because they're in terrible, they're terribly impactful on the community, people's mental health, and obviously on the economy.

We welcome those unemployment figures today. But, you know, we're looking to next month and next month's figures, and obviously that will reflect more of the lockdown's that we've seen. But, what I am pleased about is that the COVID Disaster Payments - which are now at over $3 billion has been paid out to some 1.5 million Australians - that they're proving to be very effective, very, very effective. And so they will continue to support people through the lockdowns.

Now, when it comes to the issue of COVID zero, I think often people are referring to different things in either how they're hearing it, or how even perhaps it's been spoken of. COVID zero, i.e., there is no COVID in Australia, i.e. there's no COVID in quarantine, there's no cases in isolation. There's just zero COVID in Australia. That has never been Australia's goal, ever. And, I don't believe, and I'm assuming that's not what premiers are referring to when they say COVID zero. What we're seeking to achieve is cases minimised as far as possible, preferably to zero, that are infectious in the community. That's what we'd like to achieve, and we have to act in accordance with that. Now, I think the Premier is being very realistic about what the the opportunity to do that now in New South Wales is, given the status of the serious Delta outbreak that we're seeing there, and whether that can be achieved in Victoria with the cases we're seeing now and the extension of lockdown, well, time will tell. But, the import of the suppression strategy is you must keep suppressing, you must keep suppressing. The lockdown in Sydney has to work for it to be lifted. It has to work. Suppression cannot be dispensed with for vaccination, when you have the vaccination levels we have now. And, so, that has always been the case. There's no change to it. That is hopefully a very clear and cogent explanation of what it is - suppress and vaccinate, drive the cases as low as you possibly can that are infectious in the community, because that, the stronger we go into Phase B at 70 per cent, the better off the whole country is. Yeah?

Journalist: The 3,000 humanitarian positions, is there any, apart from people that have family here, is there any other way you'd be looking to prioritise people within that, particularly educated women who are fearful of their degree alone being a reason for the Taliban targeting them? And, is there any capacity to bring anywhere near that 3,000 out at the moment on this mission? Or, are we talking over a longer period of time offering those humanitarian visas?

Prime Minister: I'm going to work backwards from, on your questions. No, it is over a longer period of time. Right now, we're getting out Australian citizens and residents. We're getting out those who have been visaed as part of this program. And we're in that process. And, we know where they, well, we know who they are, where they all are is a, is a challenge in that this current environment, and whether they're able to be in a position to get themselves to Kabul, that is a challenge with what is occurring across Afghanistan. The humanitarian program runs over years. I mean, I was just noting it today, I mean, all countries have been engaged in bringing Afghan nationals out of Afghanistan now for many years. And, Australia's record is a very, very strong one, a very strong one. I mean, if you look at just over the last five years, in Australia we've brought out over 5,500. Now, the UK brought out about 3,200 in a similar period. The United States have brought out more, but they're a much larger country. And, so, all countries have been working to do this, and we will all continue to keep doing this.

Now, yes, we will work all of those contacts within Australia, which I would expect will identify many of the sensitive cases with women and girls that you're identifying. But, in addition to that, and the Foreign Minister and our Ambassador in Geneva has been reaching out to the UNHCR and will be engaging with their processes as well, to identify people who would be suitable for our program. We do have a specific tranche of our humanitarian program that focuses on vulnerable women and girls, always have. In fact, when I was Minister we increased the quota in that area, and it has stayed high all throughout our program. It has been the most significant and and highest priority, I would argue, amongst our humanitarian program, and always receives keen interest from those who are administering it. Marise.

Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Thanks very much, Prime Minister. And, further to the Prime Minister's comments about the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, I'll be speaking to the Secretary-General Filippo Grandi either this evening or in the coming day about the work that the High Commission is doing. And, this certainly is an issue which we have been considering. A number of of groups, organisations have provided details and raised their concerns in relation to women and girls that they understand to be particularly vulnerable. And, we are collating all of that information. So we have that.

I know that there's been a number of questions about how an Afghan in a current circumstance can apply for for such a visa. And, obviously, there are the normal processes which apply, whether it's through a website or a telephone. That is not possible for many at the moment. And, many whose names are being advanced to us are being advanced by supporters. It is possible to have that name recorded and put into a, into the process, into the system by a nominator or a sponsor, by a close family member, by a parliamentarian, by a member of a diplomatic mission, a member of a consular post, from an international organisation, and then more formally, perhaps through registered migration agents, through legal practitioners. So, we absolutely understand the impracticality, if you like, of saying please apply online or please make a call. That is not the only way in which those names can be raised or advanced to us. And, we have been speaking with many who have raised names with us.

Prime Minister: Phil.

Journalist: Just a follow-up from Katharine's question about COVID zero. You've said before, you know, the lower New South Wales can have its case numbers, the better. What, do you have in mind a realistic number, given they can't seem to get them down - they can just seem to slow the increase - when that New South Wales can be at on a daily basis before we move to phase two of Doherty? So, I mean, can they do it at 600 a day? Can they do it at 300 a day?

Prime Minister: The number needs to be as low as possible. I mean, the practical import of what we're saying is, what should we be doing about it? And, what we should be doing about it is suppressing it. And, so, use whatever phrase, COVID language you wish - the actions that need to be taken is to ensure that we are suppressing. Now, the way you suppress it is you stop, you stop it moving about. And, that's why the restrictions, as hard as they are and as difficult as they are and as costly as they are, they're sadly necessary. The purpose of the policy in this phase is to suppress and to drive those numbers down as far as we possibly can. Now, in some states, they they can get them down to those numbers and have zero infections in the community. Some states are in that situation, others or not. What I do know is this, is once Delta gets in, very hard to achieve. But, that doesn't mean you stop trying. That doesn't mean you give up. It doesn't mean you don't keep doing it. It doesn't mean you don't keep pushing through. It means you keep going and you go as hard as you can to keep it suppressed as long as you can, until we're in that position where we're hitting those higher targets. And, I have to make this the last one, Andrew,

Journalist: Senator Payne, just on the, we've seen those horrific scenes outside of Kabul Airport where people are trying to get through the gates and so on. We've got 600 Australians and Afghan support staff trying to get in, plus families. How are you getting them in through communication and making and guarding their their entry to the airport? And, just on your announcement about vaccines, Prime Minister, is the risk about expanding the use of Pfizer to 16 to 39-year-olds is that you end up seeing a lot of people cancelling their AstraZeneca appointments in the next few weeks?

Prime Minister: Well, let me start with that and then Marise can finish the other one. The best vaccine you can get is the one that is available right now. If you're in Sydney, get vaccinated today, right now, go out there and do it right now. That is my clear, my clear advice. And, that's what we want Australians to do. And, 309,000 of them did it yesterday, and they're lining up out there right now. And, we're getting more and more and more doses out there. So, my advice to people is to keep going. Australia is really getting on top of this, on the vaccination program. Today, a big turner corned, corned, sorry, a big corner turned, I should say. It's been a long day. It's been a long week. A big corner turned, because one in two Australians who are eligible to have that vaccine have had it. You know, we've been working hard to get to that point, and it hasn't been without great difficulty and a lot of obstacles. But, there we are today, Australia, all of us there together, and we've got to keep going that extra distance. Marise.

Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Thanks, PM. Andrew, that goes to what I said in my earlier remarks about the continuing significant issues with access to Hamid Karzai International Airport. So, that is why there has been quite a significant meeting overnight with, led by the United States, with officials from partner countries, who are sharing that challenge so that we can work hard together on the ground, particularly led by the United States, to address that. Australia is not outside the airport, at all. So, Australia is inside Hamid Karzai International Airport, and any issues around security outside the airport we are working with partners on those, and particularly led by the US.

Prime Minister: Thank you everyone, thank you.

Media enquiries