House debates

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Australian Border Force

2:54 pm

Photo of Brendan O'ConnorBrendan O'Connor (Gorton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs (House)) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. The Herald Sun revealed this week that Border Force officials are failing to even look at the vaccine certificates of arrivals at our international airports. Baristas need to see a vaccine certificate when people buy a coffee in Sydney, so why don't Border Force officials demand the same thing from people entering Australia?

2:55 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The Minister for Home Affairs may wish to add to this answer. I have tremendous respect for and confidence in our Border Force. It was actually our government that established the Border Force. The Border Force did an amazing job, particularly following on from the great work in stopping the boats, in ensuring that Australia's borders were secure, and they continue to do that job every single day.

In these practices, the Border Force put in place arrangements with the international airlines to ensure that proof of vaccination is provided back at the point of uplift, and the Border Force is then undertaking compliance activities with arrivals. That was further upgraded last weekend to ensure that that is done not only at the point of embarkation but also on arrival with all of those arrivals coming through. So it is simply false for those opposite to come and cast a slur on the fine work done by our Border Force in the middle of a pandemic. They bring this in here. So, as usual, we have the Labor Party saying, 'Yes, we support the work on the border, but we're happy to get stuck in and give them a slap at the same time.' The minister may wish to answer further.

2:56 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very happy to add to the response just given by the Prime Minister. What we have implemented is a multilayered approach to making sure that we have in place the appropriate checks and balances to ensure that when people enter this country they do have the appropriate vaccination status and certification. Prior to uplift, an individual passenger or a family have to make sure that they have a negative PCR test available. That is checked on check-in by the airline, which also checks that every individual or every member of the family who's transiting or coming through to Australia has the appropriate vaccination status. That is the first part of the process.

Of course, when they arrive in Australia we make sure that the appropriate checks and balances are in place to ensure that these people have the appropriate vaccination status. That includes checks by the Australian Border Force. I have to say that the Australian Border Force has been exemplary in the work it has done, first, to ensure that our borders are open and that we are in a position to be able to welcome back people to Australia as soon as we possibly can and as soon as it is safe for us to do so. The Border Force has worked very consistently for a number of months to make sure that everything that is needed is in place to ensure that people who arrive in Australia have been able to demonstrate the negative PCR test and that they have the appropriate vaccination status.