Remarks at Flight Centre, Town Hall, Sydney
Subjects: Safe travel over Christmas; Smartraveller.gov.au; Wikileaks
Transcript, E&OE, proof only
22 December 2010
KEVIN RUDD: First of all, a happy Christmas to all Australians and most importantly a safe Christmas for Australians, including those travelling overseas.
Every year, tens of thousands of Australians head overseas for their holidays. That's terrific. I think everyone likes to see the world.
When you go overseas, sometimes you'll land in trouble and it's worthwhile just putting some facts and figures in people's minds.
Every year - for example, in the last 12 months, we've had six million visits overseas by Australians, six million visits. And that is a huge number of visits out of the country. Of those, we have a whole number of - a large number of Australians who actually end up in some difficulty as well. We have 20,000 applications for support by our consular officers around the world and that includes, for example, 1500 hospitalisations.
So, without wishing to put a dampener on it, can I just say this: it's very important that when you travel out of the country that every Australian takes some pretty basic steps by way of precaution.
Number one, make sure you register with Smartraveller, and go to the website, smartraveller.gov.au.
Second, what you need to then do is to read the travel advice on the country that you're going to, get familiar with security circumstances there, and subscribe to the updates of those travel advisories which may change while you're overseas.
Number three, is also to make sure you use Smartraveller to register your name and address so that if, for whatever reason something happens, they can track you down really quickly. And that's really important as well.
And number four, as we've now learned from experiences in London, make sure you've got travel insurance. This is really important.
So, four basic steps. Go to smartraveller.gov.au. Two, read the travel advisory and subscribe to the updates. Three, make sure that you also register your name and address so that you can be contacted. And number four, get travel insurance. That way, if anything happens, you can be helped.
The bottom line, if something goes wrong, we have about 170 consular points around the world where you can get assistance in a 24 hour consular information hotline in Canberra. That hotline last year took 44,000 inquiries from Australians around the world and at home when difficulties have arisen. It's there to help Australian citizens. But make sure you also help yourselves with that simple four step plan.
So, have a happy Christmas, have a safe Christmas but, on top of that, if you're going overseas please go to smartraveller.gov.au.
QUESTION: Mr Rudd, you mentioned before that Therese is stuck in London. What happened there?
KEVIN RUDD: Snow, it's the white stuff, comes out of the sky, goes phoom like that.
QUESTION: [Laugh] When was she due back and...
KEVIN RUDD: Well, she's due back tomorrow but I just spoke to her this morning and she says to me that flights have been cancelled tonight London time, and I think the following night London time. And so she's looking at how else she get home at the moment. So I've told her we're just going to defer Christmas in case she doesn't make it. We'll make sure that her Santa stocking is preserved.
But for all those Australians who are stuck at the moment, either trying to get there or trying to get out, it's a tough and rough time at the moment. And so, hopefully, the weather will clear and hopefully we can get people home soon, including Therese.smartraveller.gov.au
QUESTION: Just briefly, just before you go, any comment on the Wikileaks cable that came out with Mr Downer and his thoughts on North Korea?smartraveller.gov.au
KEVIN RUDD: All I'd say about Wikileaks, as I've said a thousand times both here and around the world, is number one, we don't comment on the content or the accuracy of any of these cables which have been the subject of unauthorised release around the world. And, secondly, in the case of Mr Assange, as I said, our responsibility is to provide him, as we would with any Australian abroad, proper access to consular services, consular support to ensure his welfare, and that he has access to appropriate legal representation.smartraveller.gov.au
Thanks folks and to all of you from the media, happy Christmas.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555