On Saturday, the Morrison Government announced that it was partially lifting its China travel ban to allow Chinese Year 11 and 12 students who study at our school’s entry into Australia, pending the approval of state and territory authorities, and the student’s individual schools.
After consultations with health officials, the government concluded that based on the slowing rate of infection in China, as reported by Chinese authorities, it was potentially safe enough to begin to relax the travel ban.
Within the next 24 hours that decision already began to look potentially foolhardy.
Shortly after the announcement by Health Minister Greg Hunt that the travel ban was going to be partially lifted, ABC News reported that a case of coronavirus in Wuhan had an incubation period of 27 days.
This has led some experts to question the current 14-day quarantine period being observed across the globe as a potentially inadequate measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Even Chinese President Xi Jinping went as far as warning the Chinese public the peak of the coronavirus outbreak has not yet occurred.
It’s fairly clear that there are a growing number of risks to reopening Australia’s borders to even a small number of people from mainland China, but perhaps the most concerning one is that the Chinese are not being entirely truthful about the severity of the virus outbreak within its borders.
United States Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on both the US Senate’s Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, recently took to Twitter to bluntly denounce the Chinese government’s numbers as lies.
No reason to believe the #coronavirus is “contained” in #China. The numbers they are releasing are fake. Their primary goal isn’t addressing the virus, it’s their global image. We have no idea what the true numbers are but they are without a doubt higher than what they admit to.
It’s no secret the that the Chinese Communist Party lies, withholds and distorts the truth from both the Chinese public and the international community. After all, Beijing attempted to cover up the truth about the SARS and the coronavirus outbreak’s, going as far as persecuting whistleblowing doctors who tried to warn the world about the threat.
Amid this extremely serious threat, some universities have consistently pressed for the travel ban to be relaxed, putting the health of their Chinese student reliant balance sheets ahead of the health and wellbeing of the Australian public.
The fact that Australia, Singapore and Israel have all had relatively contained outbreaks to this point, suggests the China travel bans have been successful in slowing the spread of the virus, while nations such as Italy, Iran and South Korea who did not institute travel bans now have far more cases than Australia.
In fact, Australia is the only nation in the world currently relaxing its travel ban, Hong Kong, Israel, Armenia and a long list of others countries around the globe are now either closing borders or expanding their travel bans.
On Sunday, the nation’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy joined his Victorian counterpart in warning Australian’s, that there “was a strong possibility of a pandemic” which had “increased in recent days”.
Yet despite the fact that borders are being closed, travel bans are being initiated and Canadian health authorities have stated coronavirus now fits the criteria of a pandemic. The Morrison government is set on not only relaxing the travel ban for students, but is now hinting it could be lifted entirely sooner than expected.
The Prime Minister’s weakness on China was laid bare last year as the people of Sydney awoke to an unannounced visit of multiple Chinese warships into the Harbour — coincidentally on the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
After years of wishy-washy Coalition foreign policy on China, including backing out of bilateral naval exercises with the United States to not upset our nations Chinese benefactors, the time has come for Morrison to stop kowtowing to China and to draw a line in the sand.
Today the government’s focus was on the economics of the epidemic, but the Prime Minister must make it clear that the health and wellbeing of the Australian public comes first, keeping the travel ban in place until the all clear is given by an authority with real credibility, rather than basing decision making on figures many claim are fabricated by Beijing.
Ultimately this issue may decide the future of Scott Morrison’s leadership, because if the travel ban is relaxed and an outbreak occurs in Australia, the Liberal Party may soon find a leader who is willing to put public safety before kowtowing to Beijing.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.