16 Aug 2019, Funafuti, Tuvalu
Prime Minister, The Hon. Scott Morrison MP.
JOURNALIST: PM, China's ambassador overnight in the UK said some pretty strong things about Beijing's preparedness to act in the Hong Kong situation. We have many Australians there. Are we making any plans to evacuate Australian citizens?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is a very sensitive situation. It's a very concerning situation and anything I would say would only be to encourage a de-escalation of the situation in Hong Kong. And for those who are protesting to do so peacefully and for that to be respected. And to support any initiative that de-escalates tensions. That's plan A, that's what we have to focus on right now. And I welcome what I believe are constructive contributions from others who are seeking the same thing. President Trump and others, we just simply want to see the tensions de-escalate there and so people would just go on about their peaceful lives. You're absolutely right about the number of Australians and those holding Australian passports, dual citizens that live in Hong Kong. There are tens of thousands. And so this is obviously something we're watching closely. We're monitoring the situation but right now our efforts are to address the de-escalation of the situation.
JOURNALIST: What would be the ramifications if they did descend into violence?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't think it's helpful for me to speculate on that other than to say that we're monitoring the situation closely and that our first attempt is and, I think, I hope will be successful along with other countries, is to see that de-escalate. But largely that's a matter that has to be resolved internally within Hong Kong itself and more broadly within China.
JOURNALIST: If you had friends or family members planning a trip to Hong Kong would you advise them to reconsider the need to travel?
PRIME MINISTER: I'd advise them to read the travel advice for Hong Kong as I would for anyone going to any part of the world. They should always do that and I mean that quite seriously. I mean, if you are travelling... Australians, you know, we love getting about. We like experiencing the world and, you know, the world can be a dangerous place. Many of you know local members of Parliament well and a number of times that when we're called upon to try and assist one of our constituents who find themselves in a bit of bother somewhere in some part of the world, it's not uncommon. It happens quite a lot and in many cases you say, ‘Gee, I wish they'd wish they'd read the travel advice.’ because that advice is there to protect Australians and to ensure that they can travel safely around the world and I’d encourage them to make use of it.