Press Conference - Australian Parliament House, ACT

Transcript
03 Mar 2020
Canberra
Prime Minister
E&OE

PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon, everyone. Key in the government's response to the coronavirus is being upfront with the Australian people, and again, I want to thank Dr Murphy and the Minister for Health for the regular briefings they've been providing to the Australian people, information that they can trust, information that they can rely upon. And that is something that is very much needed. There's plenty of speculation that goes out there, all sorts of stories people can look up on the internet and all the rest of it. This is my trusted source of advice. That's where the truth is coming from and how the government is actually responding to this crisis. And I would encourage Australians to be seeking out those official sources of information and advice when it comes to addressing their concerns. The 24/7 info line, which I recall visiting almost in the first day or so as this issue really began to emerge back in January, 1800 020 080. I’ll say that again, 1800 020 080. That's where you can find out the information that you may be seeking as you seek to come to some understanding of the issues that are being confronted. 

As we've also said, Australia is not immune as we've learned, but we are well prepared as any country can be. We will get through this together as a country and we are working this issue together as a country. States and territories together with the Commonwealth, the expert medical advice that is around the country, the private sector, the government sector, all pulling together. Just before coming into this press conference earlier today, I spoke to both Coles and Woolworths just to get an update on their arrangements. And I appreciate their response and the steps they're taking to assure people and their own customers. And it's important that as we continue to deal with this issue day by day where there are clearly many uncertainties. But at the same time, Australians are common sense people. They respond with common sense solutions. I've been particularly pleased with the way that Australians, particularly as they've returned from various parts of the world, and we've had the instance up in the Gold Coast most recently, where they became aware of their own condition, moved quickly to go home, to make contact and then to self isolate. As I’ve said we’ve had over 34,000 people returned from mainland China and self isolated. We’ve run three successful quarantine programs, and we will continue to put in place the sensible measures. And so when it comes to people going about their daily business, I would encourage them to continue to do just that.

The emergency response plan was activated, as we said last week, and that was in anticipation of where we understood the broader global Coronavirus was heading. We're now in some 75 countries, I'm advised, around the world where this is impacting. And that is what we anticipated this spread would be. And that's why we took that early action well in advance of most other countries. We are seeing in particular the most significant and most severe outbreak outside of mainland China now occur in Iran. And that's what has also been behind some of the more recent cases that we've seen in Australia. The National Security Committee will be meeting again this week. It's met on, I think, 14 or 15 occasions over the course of the past, sort of five weeks or so, as we've continued to get regular information and updated advice and respond to that advice. And the National Security Committee will receive both from Dr Murphy and as well as from the Education Minister and Home Affairs Minister and Foreign Minister on a range of fronts, issues that we've asked them to report back on in putting in place the emergency response plan. 

I've also today asked that issues around travel and border controls also be reassessed again in relation to higher risk groups from nations that obviously includes looking at the issues in the Republic of Korea and in Italy. But I would note that those cases are quite different to some of the others because we're dealing with more advanced health systems in those places. And we will continue to look to the health advice, which has not been, up until this point, to make any changes to those arrangements. But as is always the case, we will keep looking at it each, each and every day. There have been 34 cases in Australia. 21 of those cases have fully recovered. 21 out of the 34. And sadly with Mr Kwan, we have had one fatality and that came from the group that returned from the Diamond Princess. There are a lot of common sense things that people can do in how they just go about their daily interactions, and Dr Murphy can take you through those. They are not extreme measures. You can continue to go about your daily business as I've said. I'm looking forward to getting to places of mass gathering, particularly if it involves too my football team playing or going to kids concerts or doing any of these things. Australians should continue to go about their lives in their normal way and just exercise common sense in the same way you would during a severe winter season where they may have where there may be an outbreak of flu or something like that. I mean, that is not uncommon and people exercise the same normal common sense decisions they would. And that's all we encourage people to do. 

More than 10,000 people have been tested in Australia. I think that demonstrates the seriousness with which we've been putting those arrangements in place. They've all been done in public laboratories, on many cases that's been referred from private laboratories where the testing is conducted in a public laboratory. And we're now working with the private labs to see if we can expand that capability so more private labs can conduct those tests. There's also been some very good work done over the course of the last week with the aged care sector. Remember that in particular circumstances, if and in particular locations, if we had concerns, there's the ability to lock down aged care facilities out of protection for the residents in those aged care facilities. And so I want to thank again Dr Murphy and the state and territory health agencies for those engagements with the aged care sector, because that's obviously a more vulnerable sector with people with potential comorbidities. The other thing that has occurred is we've been engaging with Indigenous leaders, because in remote indigenous communities if the virus were to get to those places, obviously there was a real vulnerability there. And so we've been reaching out to those communities to work through how preparedness can be put in place. The Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme has also been engaging in the disability sector and the NDIA to be looking at the issues that need to be addressed, particularly for Australians with disabilities. 

As I said, I spoke to Coles and Woollies on the way in. They would send the same message that I'm sending you today. That is, it is important that people just go about their business and their normal processes in a calm manner. And they've spoken to me about the arrangements they have in place around their supply lines and things like this, but I would just urge people to be going about their business in their normal way when it comes to those matters.

On the economic response, the Treasury is working closely together with the other relevant agencies of government to address the boost that we believe will be necessary, which I will have more to say about once we've worked through the details of that plan. It will be a targeted plan. It will be a measured plan. It will be a scalable plan. It will be targeted on the real diagnosis of the economic issue we're looking to confront here. We will ensure that we do not make the same mistakes of previous stimulus measures that have been put in place. There is a lot of learnings from what happened last time, and it's important that as the business sector bounces back, as it will on the other side of this, this is why this health crisis with significant economic implications is different from a global financial crisis.

There's no problem with the banking system. There’s no problem structurally with the stability of the economy or things of that nature. This is a health crisis which has had serious disruptive impacts on the travel movement of people and of goods around the world. And that obviously disrupts supply chains and has a suppressing impact on demand. And what we are focusing on is jobs, cash flow and investment. It's important that on the other side of this virus, which will happen, it's still uncertain at this point, of the development of the virus, about how long that would run for. But what's important to know is that there is another side to this. And on the other side, you would expect normal transmission to resume when it comes to the global economy. And what that means is we want to put our businesses in the best possible position to bounce back and bounce back strongly when that opportunity presents itself. So we will continue to work to get that right. If you don't work to get the details of a package like this right, then it can have very serious implications, both economically and more broadly. And frankly we saw that last time and we don't intend to repeat those mistakes.

Finally, we have been working closely, as I mentioned in Question Time yesterday with the Reserve Bank. We had a hook up yesterday, the Treasurer and I, and the Finance Minister along with the Treasury Secretary, with the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Deputy Governor. We are highly aligned. Highly aligned in our understanding of what the challenge is here and understanding of the arrangements that can be put in place. We obviously both have different responsibilities and different ways of impacting on that, and I'll leave what the Reserve Bank does as entirely a matter up for them to do that independently. But I would just stress that we have been working closely to align both our understanding of the issue, and the necessary responses that can be put in place. Now the bank later today will obviously make a decision, as they always do, on the cash rate. And I'd make two observations. The first is cash rate falls have been 75 basis points since the last election. And our advice is that 70 basis points of those reductions have actually been passed through to consumers, either directly or by consumers getting better deals and actually exercising their own choices. So while not all of those rate cuts were passed on by banks, and you know my view on that, I applaud Australian consumers for taking matters into their own hands and making sure that they get the better deal. Now, there's no doubt if the bank were to take a decision today on cash rates that the Government would absolutely expect the four big banks to come to the table and to do their bit in supporting Australians as we go through the impact of the Coronavirus. That is why if the bank were to go down that path, they would be going down that path. And honestly, I don't see it any different to what Qantas did. When we called out to Qantas and we said we need your help. We need to get some people out of China. We need to get some people out of Japan. And Qantas showed up. Frankly as they always do. Great Australian company. And this is the same call out on behalf of Australians, that if the bank at a move today, then I would expect they would do the right thing by those Australians who are looking to see any support that the Reserve Bank would be seeking to provide at this time for these reasons that the big banks would do their bit, just like Qantas did their bit, and that they would follow through.

So with those introductory remarks, I'm going to pass onto the Minister for Health and then onto Dr  Murphy. Thank you.

THE HON. GREG HUNT MP, MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks very much, Prime Minister. Globally, we've seen now that over 90,000 cases, for the first time, have been diagnosed as being confirmed with coronavirus. In addition to that, almost 3,100 lives have been lost. And as the Prime Minister said, we now have 75 countries or regions where the virus has been confirmed. That includes Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Portugal for the first time in each of those cases. Within Australia, shortly before coming here, we were advised that a 34th case has been diagnosed in Queensland. I believe it's a 20-year-old male who has been in Dubai. The Queensland Health authorities will provide further detail, but we have been advised that contact tracing has immediately begun. So contact tracing has immediately begun, and that patient has been isolated and to the best of our advice, is stable. 

As the Prime Minister has said, important news today is that we now have 21 cases that have recovered. That means the initial 15 who had come from or been associated with Wuhan and then six of the 10 Diamond Princess cases, with of course the very sad loss of Mr Kwan. In terms of our actions, following on from the decision of the Prime Minister and the National Security Council to implement the coronavirus pandemic preparedness plan, we have met with the states. We are now working through the primary care, the aged care and the medical programs, in particular. With regards to the primary care, the Chief Medical Officer led a roundtable yesterday focusing on additional items to equip our GPs. Focusing this week on the aged care sector, which is our very, very high priority because of the vulnerability of the elderly - that's my number one priority for this week, is to focus on our aged care sector. And we're making sure, as is the Treasurer, that supply lines are maintained in Australia. The last thing is that in terms of the hospitals, each state and territory continues to focus on the preparedness of their own hospitals. And they've been doing, I think, an excellent job so far. Brendan.

DR. BRENDAN MURPHY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: Thanks Prime Minister and Minister. So I'll be fairly brief. This extra wave of cases we've been seeing is what we predicted when we talked about it last week with the international development. In this phase of our pandemic plan, we are focussing on containment, isolation through the state and territory public health officers, as we did with the earlier cases. And all of those cases are being appropriately managed. Whilst there were two very isolated cases of apparent transmission between people in Australia in New South Wales, there is no evidence of sustained or widespread community transmission in this country. So, as the Prime Minister said there's no reason for people to stop going to mass gatherings or going about their normal business. 

Clearly, our focus is now on returned travellers. If you've come back from one of the countries with where coronavirus is particularly a high risk country, they're the people who should be taking precautions. Particularly as we've said, for if you've come from Iran, which is one of the highest risk areas in the world at the moment, we are requiring a formal 14 day quarantine. But if you've come from other countries, we've asked you to take sensible precautions, practice good hand hygiene, practice some keep keeping away from large crowds. But particularly anybody who’s a return travel or has been in contact with anyone who developed symptoms such as fever, cough, very mild symptoms in many cases, but it's people who have symptoms who are largely infectious. So if you've come from an area where you might be at risk or you've been in contact with someone, isolate yourself, ring up your GP or your local hospital, tell them about your travel history and get advice about being tested. The sooner we isolate and get people tested, the better we are at controlling the spread of this disease. As Minister and the Prime Minister have said, we do have a very advanced pandemic plan. We're working across every part of the health system to make sure that we're prepared for any eventuality. But at this stage, we have small numbers of cases that are controlled, and that the community can be reassured that there's no reason to change normal behaviours. There's no reason to go and panic buy, and do things that are unnecessary. So we're working very closely as a unified health system to deal with this issue. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Can I also thank you Brendan? Dr Murphy also briefed the Opposition and the Government party rooms today, and they were very informative sessions. Phil.

JOURNALIST: You spoke about leaving business in the best possible position re: the recovery and investment being one of your focuses with whatever you are going to announce. Are you, would you be prepared in that field before the May Budget [inaudible] investment allowance or something like that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well Phil, I mean I’ll obviously have more to say about that once the measures that we've finalised are agreed upon. And when we're in a position to make those announcements, then we will.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you say that Australians are common sense people. What do you say to those common sense people who are going to Coles and Woolworths and clearly buying up stocks? Do you say to them that it is not common sense to provide their household with goods and food for at least a fortnight? 

PRIME MINISTER: What I'm saying is, is that the common sense response is to go about your business as normal. That's exactly what you heard from the Chief Medical Officer. I can understand the anxiety that's out there in the community. That's why it's important to get information from the trusted official sources. That's why I've suggested, whether it's through the information line in the incident response centre, not to be responding to what I've seen as a rather wildly speculative reports that are out there. That's not helping anybody. People running around, making all sorts of wild speculations. That's not helping anybody. What helps people is just getting access to the right information. And the source of that information is coming well through our health agencies, both at a state and a Commonwealth level. And that's what people should base their decisions on.

MINISTER HUNT: Can I just add?

PRIME MINISTER: Greg.

MINISTER HUNT: I might just add something to this which Brendan could assist with. One of the very important reassurances for families is about the, on the evidence we have, are limited transmissibility to children, which is very important for families and parents, and then the mild impact on those children are on the evidence across the globe. Now, obviously, more will be developed, but I think that reassurance for parents, Brendan, might help and assist with parents and families to have a significant measure of comfort.

PRIME MINISTER: Now I might ask Brendan to comment.

DR MURPHY: Sure. So I think the evidence around the world is that when children are infected, they are incredibly mild, in fact, so mild that they almost don't have symptoms. The only child we've had in Australia infected fulfilled that criteria. We're not entirely sure the extent to which they get the virus, but we do know that symptomatic significant disease is not a feature. And we've seen very little evidence of a significant problem in children and that is quite different from flu, where we often have some quite sick children. So that is a good positive message.

PRIME MINISTER: Jane.

JOURNALIST: Sorry, Prime Minister or Dr Murphy. Yesterday New South Wales was suggesting people no longer shake hands. Is that the official advice coming from the Commonwealth and are there other social isolation measures people should be taking? Like what kind of examples could you give?

DR MURPHY: So we have, the medical advice would be that the social isolation should be focussed on people have returned from high risk countries or people who've got symptoms that might suggest that they've picked up this. Same as you would if you’ve come, if you think you've got flu, you’ve come back from South Korea or Italy or Iran. Then we certainly would want you to practice some social distancing, not go to mass gatherings, and in that context, shaking hands, good hand hygiene, is probably best to be avoided. But we're not suggesting that those practices should be considered by the broader general community.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what initial advice [inaudible] Murphy has just said contradicts what the New South Wales Health Minister said yesterday, which is that everyone should stop shaking hands. Is that a failure of the Government to not have consistent public health messaging that could have prevented some of the panic statements from official figures like the state Health Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: I just simply want to acknowledge the really good working relationship we've had with states and territories on this issue and I'm not about to get into the running commentary on those sorts of things. We’ll continue, as we are here today, providing the Australian public with the best information and advice that we have. And I really want to thank all the state governments, New South Wales included, for the great way they've been working with us. Mark, Mark.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask a question about the sports grants scheme?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm going to focus on coronavirus at the moment. If we've exhausted the interest on coronavirus, I'm happy to deal with other matters. But I've got to say, I think the coronavirus is an issue of much greater concern to Australians today than the politics of Canberra. John.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] retail banks to do the right thing. Is doing the right thing passing on the entirety, for example a [inaudible] rate cut?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on supply lines. There’s stories we’re hearing about kids not being able to get football jumpers, because they're ordering them in from China. Are you worried about the fuel supply and other essential goods if we do hit a [inaudible] mass outbreak here in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, look at the moment no. We're not about those sorts of issues. But these are all the issues that go into our preparedness and these are the things that we are constantly looking at as a government to have the necessary precautions in place. But if supply lines have been disrupted and whether that's to kids, footy jumpers or other supplies, it can include important building materials and supplies that are going into the constructions of people’s homes. So my point is that the health crisis with economic impacts is different because what it does is it disrupts the normal economy. It disrupts supply chains. That is what its economic impact is. And so that will have impact on cash flows. That will have an impact certainly on external demand and can have impacts on domestic demand as well. And so that's why in seeking to pull together a package, that's what we're trying to address. Keeping businesses in business, keeping Australians in jobs, and making sure that on the other side, because there is another side. There absolutely is another side. I mean, at the recent G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Saudi Arabia, there was a view that there was a V-shaped economic trajectory to this issue. Now it's probably looking more like a you than a U than a V at the moment. And that's because it's changing. And what that says to us is you can't, what you don't do is solve last week's problem, you solve today's problem, or the problem of 10 years ago. This is not the same issue as the GFC. It's a very different set of economic circumstances and issues we're seeking to address. And the most important thing is the cash flow, particularly of more vulnerable small and medium sized enterprises, the workers, those who work for those businesses, and ensuring that they're in a position to be there on the other side when the economy bounces back. And our economy is going to bounce back, and Australia is going to bounce back, and I want it to bounce back stronger than anywhere else in the world.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] mentioned the mistakes of the past. The stimulus of a decade ago was 50, 60, 70 billion or more, and some of that, a lot of that, went on infrastructure which was slow to get built. Is that an example in your mind of what should not be done this time?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I was in the Parliament at the time, and I made the observation at the time that the second wave of stimulus that was put in place by the Government at that time was not something the Opposition supported. And I think that we were born out to be right about that. I mean, what you have to be able to do is put in place things that can be done straight away. Now, we brought forward $3.8 billion worth of infrastructure projects last year. And I sat down together with the Infrastructure Minister and the Urban Infrastructure Minister with states and territories to identify those elements of the supply pipeline and our infrastructure program to get as much of that into this next, you know this six months and the next financial year. Now, I'm pleased we did that, because that means those projects are now being accelerated and that will play a part in what can be made to occur. And if there are any elements of that that we can move more quickly, fine. But it's not a simple thing to do. You can't just turn on an infrastructure project, not even necessarily one that's even underway in terms of ramping up its level of activity. I mean, they will have issues about supply lines as well. And so what you have to focus on is that is the things that can move more readily. We're dealing with a very time limited issue here, because the demand and supply disruption impacts will appear for a time. And when the health issue is addressed and passes, then the economy will return to what was a more structurally sound basis. And it's important that when you address the budgetary issues, you also keep in mind the structural integrity of the Budget. And what that means is, I mean, the reason we've been able to get Australia back into the position where we can address not just this crisis, but also the bushfire crisis we've just been through, and to provide the support we have through the drought is what our Government did to restore the Budget was to do two essential things. And that was to get out the growth in expenditure down to a manageable level, and that fell down to less than two per cent per year, which was one of the greatest achievements of expenditure restraint we've seen in this country in 50 years. And at the same time, after getting our expenditure under control, we did the things that supported the growth in the economy. And we've had tremendous growth in employment, and what that did was lift revenues without raising taxes. And that's how the structural integrity of the Budget has been restored. And I intend, along with the Treasurer and the Cabinet, to ensure that we maintain that sort of discipline. And that the structural integrity of the Budget that we've been able to rebuild means that when the economy bounces back, then the Budget will similarly benefit. Yeah, Ellen.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the inbound passengers, are you looking at fast tracking the way you collect the flight manifest? And why are we still relying on handwritten arrival cards?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the work that is already being done on border controls actually works with airlines to identify passengers prior to embarkation. That's actually how the border control system works. And so that's why people who were trying to board flights out of mainland China to Australia can't get on. It's not that they're turned back once they get to Australia, they get turned back before they even board. So when we put in place the Iran travel ban just on Saturday afternoon. That's right. On Saturday afternoon, that took and the first question I had when we considered it to Mike Outram is how quickly can you get this in place Mike? In terms of ensuring the airlines are able to provide that pre-embarkation ban at the other side? And he said we'll have that in place by the morning. So that's not what is necessary relied on. What we have is we do have to get access to manifests. It's one of the advantages that Australia has in managing a situation like this is for people coming from many countries, then they're in the air for some time and that gives our authorities the opportunity to review those manifests if they haven't already been able to identify those who are seeking to get on in the first place. At the back.

JOURNALIST: What was the reason for your discussion with Coles and Woolworths this morning? Can you give us some more details about those conversations? Are you concerned about supply chains?

PRIME MINISTER: No. I'm concerned, but I thought it was important to have an understanding from those major companies about the processes they're putting in place, to manage how they're continuing to be able to deliver services to the Australian community. And what they were able to feedback to me, I think was very positive. And I'm pleased with the plans that they have in place. The prolific nature of this is by being presented on social media and things like that is not as widespread as those images suggest. And they've got measures in place to deal with that. There are obviously some lines which will be more tested in the short term, but they're working on those. The other thing which I'll be doing, is working with the ACCC. And this is something that we did actually during the recent bushfires to ensure that we enable these companies to work together a bit to ensure that they can maintain supply. Now, a very good example is, is Kimberly Clark, which produces toilet paper. They have now opened up their line of manufacturing in South Australia. I welcome that. And that's a direct response, having worked with the retailers about what they need. And I'm sure that will come as a great life to everybody, that that's how this works. That's the economy in motion. That's private companies actually assessing their own risk plans and responding to them. But what greatly assists, I think, is Australians, as I said, just going about their business in the normal way. We have got ahead of this. We are staying ahead of this. And to keep staying ahead of it, we need to keep responding in the way that we are.

You’ve already had one mate.

I couldn’t quite hear, sorry.

JOURNALIST: The Victorian Government has announced today $6 million for vaccine development to the Doherty [inaudible] Institute. Is that [inaudible] the $2 million grant pool that you announced a couple of weeks ago. Is the Federal Government considering increasing funding for vaccine development? And if not, why not?

MINISTER HUNT: Firstly, we welcome the Victorian government contribution. We're actually providing $75 million at present through the NHMRC and through other measures to directly support the Doherty. In addition, there was specific funding for vaccine development right now. But the broader funding of $75 million underpins the work of the Doherty, their capacity to do research work, their capacity to do investigative work, and that's supporting their research. That's supporting their role as the National Reference Laboratory, and that's allowed them to become the first institute in the world to the best of our knowledge to grow and share the details of the virus. So they're underpinned by an extraordinary Commonwealth contribution.

PRIME MINISTER: And Jack Ma, I think just put out I think it was about three or four million dollars to support the Doherty Institute. I take that as an amazing recognition of the incredibly bright minds we have in Australia that are working on this. And I congratulate the Doherty Institute. Greg and I and Brendan were there a few weeks ago, and where we spoke to them not just about vaccine issues, but the broader issues about antivirals and how they saw these virologists, the virus actually extending in the weeks ahead. And that information was enormously helpful. So we have the best people in the world actually working on a vaccine. They're getting tremendous support from the Government, the state government. I commend Dan Andrews for doing the same. It's not a competition. We're working together. We're all trying to solve the same problems. And together with those in the philanthropic sector will eventually crack this. But right now, it's a matter of dealing with the more immediate impacts security. John.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] slightly upgraded your stimulus language. Last week you said it would be modest, now you're saying it's moderate. Is that acknowledgement that modest won't be enough? And is your objective to avoid a negative quarter of growth in the Australian economy?

PRIME MINISTER: My objective is to support Australians through a very difficult challenge. To keep them in work, to keep their businesses in business. That's my objective. I mean, what other objective could I possibly have? I mean, what we're doing in responding to the coronavirus, is to firstly prioritise the health of Australians. And then we are working to ensure that the disruption that has caused as a result of the the health crisis that we're seeing, is minimised as much as is possible. But we've been very upfront with Australians about this. I mean, every time we've come to these lecterns or come to the dispatch box, I think Australians can have great comfort that the Government is being very upfront with them. And the truth of this matter is, yes, this is a significant virus and it's taking hold around the world at a very rapid rate. But Australia is in a very good position to respond to this. We're not immune from it, but we will get through it. We will get to the other side of this. And on the other side, you know, I have every confidence that we will see the economy bounce back and Australians to be able to thrive once more. But we have to get through it together. And that's what our focus is. Mark. Last question to Mark.

JOURNALIST: On the basis of life going on as usual, a question on another subject. Previously, you've said that the involvement of your Office in the sports grants project was passing on representations from other Offices. In evidence to the Senate last night it was revealed that one of the final spreadsheets was changed by your Office to extract one project and to add another, after the Government went into Caretaker mode. And subsequent to that, another nine changes were made by the Minister. So haven’t you mislead the Australian people on this issue?

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely not. I’ll repeat exactly what I've said before, Mark, and this is exactly what occurred. This is what I said to the Parliament and I'll say it to you here, as I said at the National Press Club, my Office provided information based on the representations made to us, including information about other funding options or programs relevant to project proposals. The authorisation of the projects was provided by the Minister for Sport. She was the one authorised to provide those authorisations, and that's what she did, and that is the fact. Thanks very much.