CheckMate November 17, 2023
This week, CheckMate examines suggestions that the Prime Minister is racking up frequent flyer miles at a staggering rate.
We also show why claims of an alleged cluster of 30 deaths occurring at the same COVID-19 vaccination clinic in New Zealand are unfounded.
Are the claims about “Airbus Albo” defeated?
On the eve of this week’s APEC summit in San Francisco, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has faced heavy criticism for placing his alleged penchant for international travel above solving domestic problems. .
Coalition efforts begin to portray Mr Albanese as ‘Airbus Albo’ within five weeks of the 2022 elections, as the newly sworn-in Prime Minister planned to make his third quick visit abroad.
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So how does it compare to other recent PMs?
Including his current stay, Mr Albanese’s number of trips abroad as prime minister has risen to 18 since his election around 18 months ago.
This puts him slightly ahead of former prime ministers Scott Morrison (17 trips) and Tony Abbott (16) at the same time in their terms in office.
CheckMate has compiled the following table of the Prime Minister Press Releases, archives of official programsparliamentary expense reportspress articles and Annual Report of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Notably, the data shows that it was not Mr Albanese but Mr Morrison who set the fastest pace at the start of his premiership, recording his 17 trips in the first 14 months.
But weeks after Mr Morrison returned from a November 2019 summit in Thailand, Australia’s Black Summer bushfire season ended. taken possession. At the end of January 2020, the World Health Organization had declared a global pandemic.
The impact of COVID-19 is clearly visible in the data, with Mr Morrison making only one overseas visit in 2020, to Japan, and just four in 2021.
Another factor was the political fallout from Mr Morrison’s ill-fated vacation to Hawaii in the summer of 2019-20, which likely dampened his enthusiasm for foreign travel.
Ultimately, Mr Morrison made 22 official overseas trips in just over three and a half years in office.
Mr Abbott, in his two years, made 21 international trips, while his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, adopted an easier pace, totaling 23 trips in just over three years.
So far, Mr. Albanese has traveled to 30 countries (including repeat visits). At the same time in his term, Mr Morrison had visited 22 countries, while Mr Abbott had visited 29 and Mr Turnbull 18 – although this pace picked up subsequently.
Previous reports in The Australian Financial Review suggested that the number of trips by former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – nicknamed “Kevin 747” – in the first 12 months was roughly equal to that of Mr Abbott.
For all the criticism leveled at Mr Albanese, the Coalition itself has defended the need for prime ministerial travel, at least for Liberal prime ministers.
“Every trip the Prime Minister makes aims to promote Australia’s interests (by) strengthening our trade relationships and strengthening our national security,” a spokesperson for Mr Morrison said. told SBS News in 2019.
“…he only travels overseas when necessary and will deliver results that benefit Australian families and businesses.”
Michael Wesleyprofessor of international relations at the University of Melbourne, told CheckMate the prime minister’s travels were an “essential part” and “integral part of the job”.
“Direct leader-to-leader diplomacy is of fundamental importance to Australian foreign policy,” he added.
“Saying the Prime Minister should not travel is as ridiculous as saying he should not attend Parliament.”
Criticism of Australian prime ministers traveling overseas is of course nothing new.
In 1974, for example, Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was castigated for embarking on a five-week European trip.
More recently, in 2009, Liberal Prime Minister John Howard was criticized for would have making 78 trips abroad over 11 years, at a cost of $20 million.
Mr Albanese’s travels have included a number of ceremonial visits, such as the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, as well as a host of NATO and G20-related summits, as well as important bilateral meetings with the United States and China.
No evidence to support claims of 30 deaths at New Zealand clinic
Viral social media posts have made baseless claims that COVID-19 vaccines are to blame for a large cluster of deaths in New Zealand.
According to one of these articles on .
“…all 30 vaccinated patients…died around the same time.”
The post contained a video featuring former New Zealand journalist Liz Gunn, a long-time opponent of COVID-19 vaccines who ran unsuccessfully as a minor party candidate in the recent national election.
The video was published on October 21 on the website of his party, New Zealand Loyal, and describes itself as “the mother of all revelations”.
In it, Ms. Gunn claimed that the cluster of 30 deaths was just “one of many examples” discovered in a yet-to-be-published dataset that she said showed “tens of thousands of vaccine-related deaths “.
Calling for the national vaccination program to be suspended, she said the data was being “hidden” by authorities but she was waiting for a whistleblower to “leak everything”.
But almost a month later, it still hasn’t happened.
Meanwhile, AAP FactCheck fact-checkers labeled it false statements.
In a statement, New Zealand Immunization Advisory Center told fact-checkers that the suggestion that 30 people died at the clinic alone was “a fallacious claim with no evidence to support it.”
“…any cluster of deaths or adverse reactions to vaccination would be urgently investigated to identify the cause,” they added.
The director of research at public health agency Health New Zealand also said there was “no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination is responsible for excess mortality in New Zealand”.
Indeed, according to November 2022 vaccine safety report According to New Zealand’s medicines regulator Medsafe, a total of 184 deaths have been reported following vaccination with Pfizer’s Cominarty vaccine.
Of these, 163 were “unlikely related to the COVID-19 vaccine,” while two other cases were under investigation and 15 could not be assessed due to “insufficient information.” .
The remaining four deaths were linked or could potentially be linked to the Pfizer vaccine, the report said.
Edited by David Campbell
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