A recording of my online seminar with Alastair Walton, Consul-General of Australia to New York where he answered common questions about the operations of the Consulate, what support is and is not available to expats and the implications of COVID-19 on life for Australians living in the United States.

Alastair Walton, Consul-General of Australia to New York chats to me, Josh Pugh, America Josh, about Australians abroad and how Consulates help.

One thing I must note is that I accidentally only recorded Alastair’s video and none of mine, but all the audio and all the content is there for you and the transcription is below.

Transcript of Australians Abroad: How the Australian Consulate Can Help Webinar Recording

Please excuse any mistakes in the transcript, this was an automatic transcription and it is approximatley 95% accurate.

[00:00:00] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:00:00] Alrighty. Hello and welcome everyone to Australians abroad, how the Australian consulate can help. Thank you very much for joining the saving. I know it’s been a stressful few weeks for everyone and thank you, especially to Alistair Wharton, the consul general of Australia to New York, who I will introduce properly in that in a minute.

[00:00:24] But thank you for taking your time out to help us get a bit of a handle on everything I’ve set up tonight so that we can try and answer as many questions as we can. Now I know some of you are in terribly worrying situations which are stressful and really impact your whole life, so we’re going to do our best to get you the answers that you’re looking for.

[00:00:43] That being said. It is confusing for us too, and the biggest issue that we’ve got right now is that the goalposts keep moving. The answers keep changing, and this makes it especially difficult to give you good advice. We’re going to do our best, so here’s how it’s going to work. I’ve taken the [00:01:00] 150 questions that were submitted and we processed them into something that’s as accessible as possible for as many of you as possible.

[00:01:07] I’m going to ask Alistair the questions and we’ll go back and forth to really extract the answers that we can.

[00:01:14] We’ll start very broadly and then we’re going to zoom in to some scenarios that should cover a lot of you.

[00:01:19] Before we get 20 information, though, we do need to flag that this webinar is strictly for informational purposes only, and it is not intended, nor should it be relied upon as a source of legal advice or opinion.

[00:01:30] It’s important that you know that because everyone’s situation is different and we’re all in, very few are coming from different backgrounds and not everything that we say tonight will directly apply to you. Just before I do introduce Alistair properly, I want to cover a few of the questions that we did get that we won’t be going into depth about tonight.

[00:01:51] Alistair is not an immigration attorney, and his role is centered around Australians in this region of the United States.

[00:01:56] We therefore won’t be covering us immigration policy [00:02:00] and too much about specific cases of these replications, us consulates, reopening or what’s happening with green cut applications, because that’s not our focus for tonight.

[00:02:09] I did cover some of these topics in a webinar or a couple of weeks ago with an immigration attorney, and we’ve also got some great links and resources from other Australian American groups and immigration attorneys that should help you out, that we can share at the end of the webinar, but for the most up to date information.

[00:02:24] And because we had quite a number of questions come in, Alistair will be interviewing Zjantelle Markel from Cammisa Markel this Thursday at 5:30 PM to cover a lot of those topics and a lot of the questions that you have submitted. So there’ll be a link to that on the consulates Facebook page tomorrow that you can tune in as well as tonight.

[00:02:44] Sorry. To introduce Alistair. Alistair has been the consul general of Australia to New York since August, 2017 he’s a career investment banker who is formally, who was the former coach chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs [00:03:00] Australia. Prior to his role, here in New York. Alistair was the inaugural console general and senior trade commissioner in Houston, Texas.

[00:03:08] So thank you again, Alastair, for joining us. Hello.

[00:03:13] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:03:13] Thanks Josh, and welcome everybody. first of all, this is a great initiative. I think we’re all failing. I sense of isolation. There’s the. So if isolation affected the entire community, I know that, for example, we’re doing virtual drinks with various folks, right across the States, and it’s a way of connecting with people.

[00:03:33] But you know, all of our world’s been turned upside down by the virus. All the constant changes, as you mentioned. we’re getting them, we get a lot of information coming out of governors, the white hats, et cetera, but also Canberra. And so we’re constantly updating a Facebook page, a website page, et cetera.

[00:03:54] And it is, it is, you know, it’s, it’s pretty, it’s a pretty disconcerting, Tom for everyone, [00:04:00] particularly, you know, there’s some really members of the community that are very, very tough out there. So this is, this is a great initiative to actually reach out. I think we all need more of this.

[00:04:10] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:04:10] We do. So how are you, like, tell me first off, personally on a personal note, how’s, how’s life I changed for you in the last a couple of weeks and months?

[00:04:18] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:04:18] Well, it’s certainly changed in terms of what we’re doing work-wise, which we’ll get into later on. you know, in order to be a console, generally had to be fairly outgoing, gregarious, I mean, jewelry making ethical. And so, this sort of isolation is a difficult psychological. But on the other hand, I think that the work that we’re doing to help people, I’m, you know, we have a meeting every day with our staff, right?

[00:04:41] And the front line, it’s been very rewarding helping astray ins, getting Australians back, give me, giving them advice. And so, while the focus has sort of narrowed in some respects in sort of broad, in other respects, in terms of this assistance and where you can really make a difference on a personal note, you know, I [00:05:00] was, I wasn’t, well a few weeks ago.

[00:05:02] I think some of our staff went well a few weeks ago. We’re all in good shape. so we might be early adapters. We don’t know. But the good, the good news is we, we, open for business and happy to help.

[00:05:13] I mean, you’re sitting there in a, in a suit and tie and a, I will admit I put this shirt on just for the occasion.

[00:05:19] So you’re doing better than a lot of people out there, I’m sure.

[00:05:22] Well, Josh are thinking about doing a shirt. No, that would be such a good look.

[00:05:28] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:05:28] That’s a very different kind of verbal,

[00:05:31] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:05:31] I have to wear a suit and tie to cover

[00:05:35] a lot of it.

[00:05:36] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:05:36] So to give, I want to start really, really sort of general, because I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand what the consulate does on a day to day basis.

[00:05:44] So during normal times, what would the, what would we use the consulate for? What are you doing on a day to day basis?

[00:05:51] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:05:51] well, obviously we, we have always had our passport and controller services, and that’s what I call our retail offering. [00:06:00] People come to the consulate. I constantly look at the Yelp reviews on checking with the staff.

[00:06:05] We have meetings on particular consular cases. Often these are Australians in distress, but often it’s just about making sure that people get their passports on time, et cetera. But on top of that, we also have a number of activities. Mmm. We have about, we have, haven’t, we have 10 States in our jurisdiction, as far as North as Maine, with the Northeast region Northeast.

[00:06:28] But we also, interestingly enough, and I think it’s because of flights. I cover Puerto Rico and us Virgin islands. And so, for example, it’s been a couple of, cases recently that we’ve had with the ox. That happened. But I will tell you, getting to the States we’ve been helping with as well. So, so, so we do that.

[00:06:46] But we also, in our normal courses, we have Mmm outreach to the U S military with a began Zech day plant, which we unable to go ahead with. We have things like the screen form we have on a big barber, an arts group [00:07:00] in, in New York. Mmm. So with culture, we have a business investment group and we have, a team that actually looks now at congressional looking at us policy, et cetera.

[00:07:10] So, so that, that area of OB work has been reorientated towards effectively comptroller and passport matters.

[00:07:19] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:07:19] Yeah. Awesome. So you do have relations with the U S government is sort of. You’re, you’re adjacent over here, so you’re constantly talking to them about, you know, you and the ambassador to Australia, a sort of  in communication where it’s needed.

[00:07:33] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:07:33] Yes. In fact, I’ve known the ambassador for about 20 years, and in fact, my son worked for him for three. We’re pretty close. It actually helps a lot, and honestly, but twice a week, the ambassador has a call with all the consul generals in the U S we go through all the issues. we haven’t had to deal with it in New York, but we’ve had.

[00:07:50] Quite a bit of work to do with, with cruise ships in Florida and in, in Hawaii and the West coast in San Francisco. And that was an enormous effort. So we [00:08:00] sort of coordinate that. But on a, on a normal level, you know, the, the, when it comes to federal government, that’s definitely in the purview of the embassy.

[00:08:08] Men mess it up. But look, we have very strong relationships with the state governments,  and, also the U S state department. So it’s the us state department called the office of our mission, but actually Gavis the exemption to enables to work. So while there’s a lot going on, we are doing an essential service so that that’s an important relationship.

[00:08:29]that’s allowed us to keep open during pause and, and even it’s, you know, I didn’t know this until I took the job. We even have, embedded Australian federal police here that talk to the New York, a New York police and various sings to look the security side. We sort of get that background is a big picture.

[00:08:46] It’s a big picture. Very holistic. So. You know, one of the things we’re looking at is, okay, is New York safe? You know, what’s happened with the virus are the areas that are unsafe. And interestingly enough, the statistics are that new York’s [00:09:00] had the last level of Crum, this level was in, was in 1918 which ironically was the Spanish flu pandemic.

[00:09:06] I’m not sure there’s a relationship or not, but certainly crime, stat, et cetera. So again, we look right across that whole a holistic way of looking at , looking after Australians here. Yeah.

[00:09:18] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:09:18] Okay. So on that, when something like what’s going on right now in the world happens, what work is done to guarantee that that keeps going?

[00:09:26] So you mentioned that you’ve got the special exemption to stay at the office, but I imagine you’ve got policies internally, you know, the business, this is planned for in some way, shape, or form.

[00:09:36] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:09:36] It is planned for, but, we, we have general crisis action plans. Okay. Right. But, I think there was a great expression that, a war plan never survives the first engage with the enemy.

[00:09:48] And so these had to be modified and they had been quite extensively for Kovac 19. So, you know, we, we look at, we look at our overall plan and we cycle, how do we need to adapt that. [00:10:00] So what, what, you know, our key role is to maintain continuity, the Australian community here and also American interlocutors, okay.

[00:10:08] And a small thing. But for example, I now go and pick up, constantly stopped in the mornings in the car and dropped them off. so th like don’t have to be exposed. Well, there’s no public transport or, or, or even Uber’s. So we take it seriously. They

[00:10:22] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:10:22] have to be at the office. They have to be with you.

[00:10:23] And

[00:10:24] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:10:24] that’s, I get, I’ve got the car, I drive and pick them up. yep. I don’t think they quite enjoying that. I should have submits and some water and getting rid of it. But it’s important to show that, that, you know, our staff, it’s our staff will through, is incredibly important to us because without our stock, we can’t serve as community.

[00:10:43] So of the stuff. So for example, we have our stuff into different shifts. two weeks on, two weeks off. And, and if anybody shows any sort of the week, we sort of parked them off and we have a couple of staff that we, we would put at a high risk. So they are doing remotely by [00:11:00] home, but when questions come in to the consulate, Mmm.

[00:11:03] And we are really focused on sharing questions in a very short timeframe. We’ve got our staff who are there to pick up the calls and answer them. So I think we’ve got a printer apparatus actually. Yup.

[00:11:15] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:11:15] Fantastic. So that sort of covers what the, where you are right now and, and what you’re doing. So I guess sort of to jump right in the deep end, based on what the Australian government and what the U S government and sort of mixing in a bit of your personal advice from what you’ve seen and your position, what is your recommendation for who should stay, who should go? Are there particular considerations that you think people should be, should be looking for. Yeah. Rather than say, who should say, what I want to do is look at a sort of a risk assessment that people should make

[00:11:47] sure. Yep. And so

[00:11:49] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:11:49] first of all, I want to acknowledge that this is a very difficult time to make decisions.

[00:11:54] Mmm. Lack of information changing information. Mmm. [00:12:00] One one minute you got a job. The next thing you might not, you might not have a job. You’ve got children at home. So, so there are the, the normal, the normal sort of diseases that we make, we would normally say to make a decision about, do I leave New York within three months is a very short period of time in normal circumstances.

[00:12:18] Yes, yes. I could look at one or two years when I’m going to do down the track. Every time I speak to Australia, I might stay human and do this. Now we’re asking people to make very compressed decisions and we sort of recognize that that is an incredibly stressful thing to do. So first of all. That’s why we get, we’ve had so much focus on updating the travel advisories to kick them adversely current.

[00:12:39]and I have changed a lot cause you know, for example, Australia now requires a 14 day quarantine. That was not the case a few weeks ago. Look, one of the key things I think you have to look at here that I would look at is health insurance. It’s a unique American issue. Mmm. If you are here and you have lost your job.

[00:13:00] [00:13:00] You might have a grace period of your, of your, health insurance, my B, three months or three months, whatever that certainly affect, you have to look at that, that’s unique to this country. So, so when I look at the risk assessment, I look at health insurance being number one and number two, and people are naturally focused on covert 19.

[00:13:19] Well, not all case, a covert 19 so you have to think about, well, what if something else happens to me as well? The official advice is, you know, I mean, obviously a lot of Australians who actually live in the States, the jewel nationals, et cetera,  have to make decisions that are quite different. Well, what I would say is anybody that she, for the short term that worries about their insurance or anything like that, or worries about money, are running at a mildly, et cetera, all who had a job and lost their job.

[00:13:47] Really should take the, the governance and boss beta hitting home to Australia in my view. No, that’s, that is not an absolute blanket. Like, yes,

[00:13:55] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:13:55] I’m not leaving.

[00:13:57] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:13:57] Yes. well, but, so I think you have to [00:14:00] calibrate the risk assessment, and look at all these factors and then sort of make a decision. And can I also say they decisive.

[00:14:08] Mmm. We, we, we have a number of people ring up in social initiative and every two weeks and the

[00:14:13] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:14:13] awning out. Yeah. Yep.

[00:14:14] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:14:14] Why don’t you add, and you sort of got to, you’ve got to lay all these things out and say, okay. What, what is the risk of say, what is the risk of going and if the risk of staying in, particularly with health insurance, it’s an overriding fact that I think Iran is there for you to

[00:14:28] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:14:28] be at the top of the list.

[00:14:30] Yeah. And I, I think that, as you said, that applies to, you know, if you’re a jewel national or if you’ve got a solid, you know, you still want your job and you’re on a visa and you. Consider yourself, you know, you live here for the period of your visa and you are established. It’s completely reasonable, I think, from sort of what you were said to say, I’m going to stay because I’ve got everything I need.

[00:14:46] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:14:46] Yeah. I’ve got bank accounts, I’ve got funds, I’ve got an apartment, I’ve got, you know, I’ve had a longterm job. You know, that’s a very different thing. July. You know, I was in a GI one. I’ve lost my job. I was need three. I’ve lost my job, my insurance going to run [00:15:00] it in two months. I’m worried about flights.

[00:15:02] So, you know, as you, as you look at that, you’ve got to sort of come to the decision, the spice on the risk itself. But, but I would say we, on the side of caution. You don’t go to Australia there are flights now, you know? I think that will be

[00:15:18] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:15:18] the, I know the situation.

[00:15:19] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:15:19] Yeah. You don’t know the situation and remember it’s a two way street and maybe it may be not in States and impose a travel restrictions.

[00:15:25] We’ve certainly seen domestically. so you’ve got to, you know, we’re in the side of caution is the way to go.

[00:15:31] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:15:31] Yeah. And I think your point about insurance as a health insurance is an important one because it’s not, as you said, it’s not only covert 19 insurance that you need to worry about if you don’t have insurance to cover you for everything that happened to you, you know, every other day of the year.

[00:15:45] That’s also a consideration that you need to take into account. So even if insurance, it doesn’t, isn’t needed for covert 19 cases, it is important to have that insurance for everything else that goes on in life.

[00:15:55] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:15:55] Yeah. And Josh, one of the unhappy jobs that we have is there are a number of strides we’ve dealt [00:16:00] with in my five years of diplomat that haven’t had it, but I’ve had accidents and I’ve had messy medical bills with all sorts of repercussions.

[00:16:07] So I’m not saying this just about covet 19 I’m saying in general, but the situation that you really have to focus your mind. Yeah.

[00:16:16] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:16:16] Okay. So we’re going to split into sort of two groups. So let’s say I do decide to stay and I feel like I’ve got my insurance. I, I’ve got to, you know, whether I’ve got a job or not, but I’ve got everything I need and I’m comfortable.

[00:16:28] What does the consulate one Australians to know about our rights and our responsibilities and what are the ways that we should be keeping informed and aware from? You’ve mentioned a few of yours, but, yeah. What do you think they should be doing.

[00:16:41] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:16:41] I think keeping his self informed. I mean, what we do every day is we look at what the mayor is saying, what the white house is saying, what the governance is saying.

[00:16:49] Now, in some cases, they’re not necessarily aligned. Yes. We now on some of them news channels, if you go from Fox and CNN, you had a very, very [00:17:00] different story site. So in some respects, you’ve got to sort of why, why this all up. Yep. I hope that we are seen to be. The source of impartial advice, that’s conservative in nature, that looks after people’s welfare.

[00:17:14] I mean, he, he, you can’t underestimate how much time we are thinking about this. And when we put it information, including webinars like this, about trying to keep people inbox informed. So the first thing to do is to keep yourself current on the information. that allows you also then to do a risk assessment.

[00:17:31] For example, New York is to be flattening out what it was about Watson. So what do I do then? Mmm. I think the other thing is we, we are doing all this, we’re open five days a week now in many places around the world because of illness and because of travel restrictions. So some of our embassies can’t do it with doing, and I’ve made it a particular point of this,  too, as long as we can to remain open [00:18:00] five days a week.

[00:18:01] So we’ve got stuff to be actually in the office and we need an office. we’ve got other stuff at home. Where do you want to question? So I hope that your views have had a good response, but you know where we are here in a very fast turn around to questions. but cake kick yourself. Keep yourself, really the local, the local if you decide to stay.

[00:18:23] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:18:23] Yeah. So, and you think you’re, so, it’s your Facebook page, the consulate’s Facebook page in New York, and the, the consulate’s website are both places that you can kind of, well, you can assume that you’ve taken the information of the day from as many sources as you can. You’ve distilled it down into something that is, you know, here’s a nugget that you need to consider for your, your ongoing consideration for someone that’s living here.

[00:18:45] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:18:45] Yeah. I also think it’s important to note that every day we do what’s called a sit rep, which goes back to Canberra. Now there’s a national sip wrap. It’s done in in D C but because New York is the epicenter, frankly, globally of the virus [00:19:00] at the moment, Mmm. The New York city reps have a, an important role to play.

[00:19:05] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:19:05] Absolutely. Yep.

[00:19:06] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:19:06] And you will have seen, for example, that until recently, Qantas and Virgin. And we’ll get into that in the next questions, but had pulled out now, yes, there are assisted flights. They, they’re very, very cheap. Mmm. That’s a good response to information and coming back from questions that people have asked us.

[00:19:27] Okay. Yep. Sounds right. So it’s not just, it’s important for people who are staying here to note that we’re not just saying gunner on the local news. We reporting that back to Canberra with recommendations, and that’s partially

[00:19:39] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:19:39] what feeds into the

[00:19:41] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:19:41] feeds, into the system, which is why things are being updated.

[00:19:43] And obviously Australia is looking at its own situation as well in terms of quarantine, et cetera. And I think the numbers of stray are actually very, very good as a result of that. The cake is Sophie involved and don’t be a stranger.

[00:19:56] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:19:56] Yeah. Okay. So that’s sit wrap on a situation report like that. Really informed.

[00:19:59] It’s [00:20:00] a, it’s a cycle. It goes back and forth to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.

[00:20:03] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:20:03] It make, it makes sure that Australia, you know, we’re, we’re watching, we watch in the white house, et cetera, et cetera, on, on, on an hourly basis. Every day we synthesize that, we send it back. It’s a snapshot. Awesome.

[00:20:16] Yep. Then helps you inform Australia and I’ve, you know, I believe those additional flights are a response to what has been seen and the demand for people wanting to go back. Okay.

[00:20:26] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:20:26] So if I am, have decided to stay in terms of financial help, if I’ve lost work over here, so I’ve been living here, I’ve had a job and I’m stuck here. is there any financial help from Australia available if we, if we talk at home or, you know, we need some support? Well, look,

[00:20:45] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:20:45] I think if you have lost your job, and I know that a lot of people was the jobs. And equally as importantly, a lot of Australian businesses have had to lay off a lot of people.

[00:20:57] They might not be Australians, but I built my being [00:21:00] here by being here for 10 years. I built a life here and all of a sudden this has been turned upside down, the hospitality industry, which is actually why I’m going yet interviewing people partially to also say,  care. You know what you’re doing. Well, we cared.

[00:21:16] Next up, we even care even more. But if you’re in a situation here without a job, which probably means you haven’t got insurance, then you really have to get back. Okay. How about risk assessment? So, so there are things we can do, but, but also there’s things that people have to take responsibility for themselves.

[00:21:38] And so you speak to your family, you get back these flights back to Australia or are very cheap. Yeah.

[00:21:45] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:21:45] That’s a good point. You should look into actually how much it costs cause it has come down, as I understand from a normal flight to

[00:21:50] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:21:50] it’s several hundred dollars.

[00:21:52] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:21:52] Yes. Okay.

[00:21:53] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:21:53] Now, if you’re in the States and you only have  Mmm.

[00:21:58] A few hundred dollars, you shouldn’t [00:22:00] be here anyway, and we can then talk to you about how to get back. We do express.

[00:22:05] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:22:05] So that’s, yeah, that’s something that they can discuss. If it absolutely comes to that position, then

[00:22:09] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:22:09] we would basically expect people to talk to their families, et cetera, et cetera. But yeah, sure.

[00:22:13] If you here without a job and no income and no money, et cetera, it’s time. It’s time to give them that play, you know? And that’s, it’s all, it’s all . And again, there’ll be Tom. And the other thing is we, you know. W when it comes to overstays and visa tech, it’s not particular area, but again, just be cautious.

[00:22:33] So  if you hear that a job or that insurance, et cetera. I think you know the answer. Okay.

[00:22:39] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:22:39] Yep. I can say also just as an addendum, cause I know a few people did send in the question about the U S stimulus package. And I can, there is a bit of information that if you did, as I understand it right now, from the legislation that was passed, if you filed a 2018 or 2019 residential tax return in the U S you are eligible [00:23:00] as a visa holder green card holder.

[00:23:02]To receive that stimulus if you, if you take the, requirements that everyone does. So that is something worth looking into. I know there’s been some information going around, about whether, you know, do we, don’t we, but the legislation as it stands at the moment, as I understand it does say that we as Australians who have filed tax or who are a tax paying a residence, do, are eligible for that stimulus.

[00:23:24]Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:23:24] the question, they enjoy shoes, you know, Oh. When will that check arrive? Can you get through

[00:23:31] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:23:31] this? Not to rely on it? Yeah. Yep.

[00:23:33] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:23:33] In other words, again, I would say as a matter of common sense, if, if the difference between staying in gang is a check. Yup. I’ll be honest. Keep going. Yup. Okay. If it’s like, look, I can get to the next several months and that check will come in handy and I have followed my texts, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:23:50] Yeah. So again, I want to talk to people, Joe, we do. Everything we do is put an effectively a risk assessment.

[00:23:58] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:23:58] Yeah.

[00:23:58] Yep. Or operations, et [00:24:00] cetera. And sometimes you have to change them. Yup. So if things do get worse in New York, for example, so the people that are currently residing in New York city, you know, things are not good outside, and we do see that on the news every day.

[00:24:13] If things do get dramatically worse, is there a different way that we should be looking at the Australian consulate? Or is it the same advice? You know, just keep an eye on the Facebook page, keeping it on the website and calling if we need help.

[00:24:23] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:24:23] Yeah. Talk to us because, It think, things get dramatically worse.

[00:24:27] First of all, you have to recognize that that will go back. That’s really gone back to Australia and a separate, we’re not, we’re not sitting here and going, Oh my God, we’ve had a call from Australia. It’s getting groups. Well, no, we are almost the whole time. Yeah, we can absolutely critical. And so we’ll be getting that information back, as I say, building information, results in extra flights, et cetera.

[00:24:47] So, so, tell us your particular issues. you know, we, we have. We have seen everything, unfortunately, part of this job, we, you know, we have not seen it, an [00:25:00] Australian passing results of COBIT 19, but it’s not a, it’s not a regular for us to have to deal with these as well. Yes. As I said, we sort of suit everything in this job, but keeping touch and, and then, you know, we’ll pass the information back.

[00:25:14] I think for many people too. Mmm. And I’ve seen this from the staff papers, wants someone to talk to maybe st. you know, a lot of it’s to do with, you’re still here Pata Pata. Today’s to say we’re here very much. Yep. Working, as hard as we can, but, but if things get dramatically worse, you know, we’ll, we’ll be, I will infect just before this call.

[00:25:39] I was on a call with all the, consulates and embassies in the Americas with our doctor in Australia with the departmental secretary. Again, an exchange

[00:25:50] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:25:50] keeping that information going back and forth.

[00:25:52] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:25:52] Everybody’s sort of recognize that New York is the epicenter now what’s happening in the world. Mmm.

[00:25:57] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:25:57] Anytime. A good litmus test for [00:26:00] what’s about to happen in a lot of places by

[00:26:01] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:26:01] sitting in some case shots. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had, I think the reporting about New York back in Australia is almost worse than it is here.

[00:26:08] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:26:08] I completely, I’ve never had a, I’ve had people who I haven’t spoken to any your reaching out to me in the last couple of days to say, I hope I’m okay.

[00:26:14] Which is very lovely. But yeah, it’s been, it sort of makes it even more dramatic being here.

[00:26:20] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:26:20] So as people reach out to us all over the Wilson, you know, Kate, we want to reach out to the community and say, are you okay if you’re not okay? Come and tell us something. We can just say if you’re not. Okay. Cool.

[00:26:31] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:26:31] Okay. Thank you. If, if I, find myself without ID, cause I know a few people are worried about, you know, showing ID when they go to hospital or do I have any options, you know, to get a travel document or ID from the consulate if I need it urgently and I,

[00:26:46] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:26:46] you do. Okay. So the important point is that. We can issue an emergency passport with a duration up to one year in less than two days. Okay. All right. Two days or [00:27:00] less. And we’ve had other people saying, Oh, look, what do I do? I’m on  my possible, it’s about to expire. What  and say, look, come in. Now the other thing about these emergency passports is, and limited duration passports, is we can H we can even do the interview by Skype.

[00:27:18] Wow. Okay. For an emergency passport, we can get you one in two days and we could do the interview over Skype

[00:27:25] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:27:25] and is that something that gets delivered to my home or do you know, or is it delivered? We go to the consulate

[00:27:31] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:27:31] No. We can, we can deliver it. Okay, fantastic. Look, I’ll get a car. I can drive

[00:27:36] on you around.

[00:27:36] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:27:36] When you’re picking everyone up in the morning, you can drop a few passports.

[00:27:39] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:27:39] Correct. But, but it’s important to note that there are those options. You know, we were also, we’re also, obviously, our focus is on emergencies right now. Yup. Bye. Absolutely. We can get you a passport in, in two days or less.

[00:27:55] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:27:55] Okay.

[00:27:57] If, on that, and I think this is probably as far as we stray into [00:28:00] the U S immigration bit, but just to sort of give people some guidance, if my visa is Experian is expiring, and I might not be able to get home in July. you know, are there considerations or is it again, something just case by case and have a chat to you,

[00:28:15] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:28:15] have a, have a chat to us.

[00:28:17]you know, this, this is one of these sort of crystal ball questions people ask us now was coming July. So I’d say he’s where I would say, does the news in places like, the UK, Italy, spine, the U S has been getting worse, not better now. I think we’re over the curve. In places like Italy, Danny’s spine, and even there was discussion today.

[00:28:41] I’m sure you saw the news of that, the expected jump that the head in New York has been leveling off, so, yeah, right. Mmm. But, but you’re out. You’re asking people a crystal ball and decide, you know, if I go back, we’ll head to my visa, et cetera. again, I would be [00:29:00] saying, it depends on your circumstance, but around, on the side of caution, so I, the question is.

[00:29:06] What are you doing in April, may, and June. It is so fundamentally important to your life. Thank you. Don’t go back. Yup, that’s right. That’s a good, yeah. No. So if I’m a bet to win, an Oscar nomination, I might stay, but if I’m just hanging around just for the, yeah. Right. The answer is probably, that’s not a simple thing to do.

[00:29:30] I think it’s really important that that, you know, we can’t, crystal goes to people. One of the reasons we can’t do that is we don’t know what the U S will do.

[00:29:39] Yep, yep. Yep. All the communication in the world still doesn’t know exactly what, what the path is.

[00:29:44] Exactly. So, so you, if, if, if it’s a three month question that you’re going to get back in July anyway.

[00:29:50] You really want. Honestly, what am I going to be doing for the next three months isn’t important. You know? You can always come  back. Yup.

[00:29:57] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:29:57] Okay. And I think that’s a, that’s [00:30:00] another good mention of your interview with Zjantelle on Thursday will be another one where you can hear sort of similar advice. I’m sure having seen Zjantelle speak a little bit in the last couple of weeks, she’s got very similar advice, but I think it’s very much worthwhile watching that because there’ll be some more in depth case by case analysis of that kind of information.

[00:30:18] So if I, that’s sort of the, if I stay, if I do decide to go, And I, you know, I’ve, I’ve realized that, I’ve got, I’ve sought my things out and get going. I know you’ve sort of already touched on this tonight, but I just want to make sure everyone knows, passport renewals. can I still get a new passport?

[00:30:34] And is that the same for the consulates around the U S at the moment?

[00:30:39] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:30:39] Yes it is. some of the controllers have had to deal with some pretty difficult situations. With, particularly, as I said, three ships. So hundreds of Australians right now. Now. Yeah, actually, interesting. Left New York is a big cruise ship port and always, expected that we might have one or two case our souls.

[00:30:59] We haven’t had that. [00:31:00] And again, that’s a good example where, you know, I prefer business. A cruise ship comes up with friend of Australians and suddenly everything’s trying to turmoil. So, so, w we haven’t had that, but in place like San Francisco particularly. and in Hawaii they have, yeah. Look, look, what I would say in passports is we are issuing for validity passports.

[00:31:22] You do have to come for an interview with us. You know, we can’t do those over Scott. I can with the information. Mmm. and they’ll, you know, they take, they take several weeks. So we gave

[00:31:32] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:31:32] something to plan in advance. It’s really, you know, set your, set your path, do your analysis. Now say I need to leave by X date, I’m going to be on that flight and I need my passport in time.

[00:31:42] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:31:42] So there’s like, if you’re talking about, I might be going home at Christmas, right? Yeah. I’ve got plenty of time. If, if you’re doing this sort of assessment that we’re talking about now. Then, and I frankly, the emergency passport is a very easy way of doing it. It’s valid for a year. It’ll get you out of the country, [00:32:00] et cetera.

[00:32:01] All right. I think that’s, I think that’s, very, very important and there’s certain restrictions on difference of flights and attention, but that, that, that’s the emergency passport is definitely. Okay. Perfect. That’s what we’re focusing on. That’s fantastic. We’ve got three or four people. and, and I should also say that, for people who are listening in, we, we’ve had a number of Australia inspect more than more than a number.

[00:32:25] simply done, not turn up for their password and abuse.

[00:32:27] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:32:27] Yeah. And,

[00:32:28] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:32:28] and I, I would say this, you know, our staff are putting themselves in harm’s way. they’re coming in every day to make sure they can service the community. A little, a little bit of, maybe a little bit of mutual respect, but

[00:32:41] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:32:41] yeah, get in touch, contact and let them know.

[00:32:43] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:32:43] If you’re not going to come meet you, don’t need your passport, please tell us. Because yep, we’re, we’re trying to work out who should come in. We’re working on key comptroller cases, so a little bit of M T you’ll see back, I think would be greatly appreciated by the staff. No.

[00:32:59] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:32:59] Okay. Good advice. [00:33:00] if I do need to get a full passport, do you know where, and I, I, it was funny, I have this, this has come up a little bit, but the getting an Australian size passport photo taken at the moment.

[00:33:09] Do you know of any places that are it? It’s possible to do that.

[00:33:13] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:33:13] Well, the answer, the answer is it was never easy.

[00:33:18] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:33:18] The never ending question

[00:33:19] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:33:19] for

[00:33:19] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:33:19] for Australia is getting that one right.

[00:33:21] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:33:21] We ha we had a better 90% reject rate. Wow. Because people would get into the local chemist. Yeah. We would not been trained and we ended up doing the many of our possible photographs or souls, which we actually can’t do at the moment, but there are ways that you can actually do it yourself.

[00:33:38] Mmm. and you can actually read the guidelines and we’ve actually, and what you do is you can actually send in the photographs to us and we’ll print them for you. Okay. That’s it. And then we can say, now you’ll link to this again. Yeah, I’m , I’m going to read this. It’s, it’s a WW dot passport photo [00:34:00] now.com so it’s www.hospitalphotonow.com actually helps you specify what you need and look, it’s a little bit frustrating from time to time, maybe that you haven’t got the photograph quite right, but we’ll work through that with you until it is right.

[00:34:16] But we’ll print it out here and get that done for you.

[00:34:18] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:34:18] Okay, fantastic. That’s easiest way. Absolutely. Yup. Mmm. The fantastic. So, okay. In terms of, you mentioned them before, the cheaper flight, so I just wanted to clarify, what’s the latest travel advice regarding flights and travel and how do we these repatriation flights?

[00:34:36] Can I get one? Yeah. What’s the situation with those flights?

[00:34:40] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:34:40] Well, first of all, they’re not repatriation floods, sorry. Mmm. Look, they say so it’s important. Virgin and Quantas are now flying . So D they’re doing weekly flocks. That’s when the LA in Brisbane, and the reason they’re going to Brisbane is because Sydney’s, but somebody flights coming, the hotels were [00:35:00] booked up, got tense.

[00:35:01] I knew for another few weeks. you’re nodded as always being flying to Australia every single day in a shed at United. So there’s always been no. It’s flat. It’s important to note. Also, the Qantas and Virgin flights are one way flights, you know how to, they two way flights you get into who qualifies to come back?

[00:35:18] I’m in new Zealand’s flying. We’re sending someone, back to Australia via Doha for reasons I can’t go into. So there, there are flood options, that people can look at. but I would say a value yourself of those, flights that have been put in, and I think, I think it’s about $400 a one way ticket.

[00:35:36] So it’s very, very cheap. But again, we have all that on our website, Mmm. That people can look at on our Facebook page.

[00:35:45] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:35:45] Fantastic.

[00:35:46] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:35:46] The minute that came on, we had that information straight up there.

[00:35:50] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:35:50] Okay. And yeah, I’ll share those addresses of your website and your Facebook and things at the conclusion of this.

[00:35:55] So we’ll make sure everyone’s got the right information. But I think that’s really important because we did have a [00:36:00] few questions about, you know, what will the situation look like in the future and July and December. And I mean, as you’ve said before, we don’t know. So if your plan is, especially if it’s July, that’s not that far away, it would be worth, you know, take that flight option now.

[00:36:13] Really start to look down at paths right now.

[00:36:15] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:36:15] I mean, kids particularly look at the next three months. it’s probably, hopefully it’ll be a bit more coming to be more to do in inside in June, but at the moment, you know, the experience is going to have in New York is a very different one to anything you’re ever gonna experience rest of your life again.

[00:36:32] So again, if it’s December, it’s quite different, but if you talk about July, it should be going sooner rather than later. Okay.

[00:36:39] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:36:39] So if I’m traveling with someone, so, so I’ve got a non-Australian spouse, can they come back to Australia with me without a visa?

[00:36:48] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:36:48] No. Okay. So, yeah, but it’s not that. It’s it. No, but then it’s a yes

[00:36:57] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:36:57] and no, but the

[00:36:59] legacy [00:37:00] question, Josh.

[00:37:02] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:37:02] Yeah, so what you have to do is you have to apply for a visa first. Okay. Mean ETA, et cetera. Then then you apply to the apartment on Homer phase with an exemption. Okay. And that’s done electronically. So you a spouse. Naturally, a defective partner and a dependent child. Right? So, so the, so you applied for the ETA, which normally only the

[00:37:28] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:37:28] ESTA equivalent. It’s the quick, you know, it’s tracking it back and

[00:37:32] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:37:32] yeah, normally to get an answer back, they need you, then you apply for the exemption through our home affairs and what you need to do. This is specific for, but you can explain the fact that I’m an effector with someone, I’m living in the same apartment, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:37:48] And having done that, then absolutely a 10. So, so it’s actually not as if the official answer is no until you qualified to me. Yes. But the yes is actually fairly [00:38:00] straightforward. Now, not everyone will really come to qualify, but, but certainly, you know, if, if from the U S et cetera, that should be, I shouldn’t say straight forward, but it’s, there is a process there to do that.

[00:38:12] We have seen, it’s been a very common question, by the way. I’m sure, yeah.

[00:38:16] A lot of families that are looking to, you know, not just, not just like themselves. So

[00:38:21] if you sign, look like it’s, it’s my girlfriend and my boyfriend and I met three weeks ago, I want to come to a straight again, that’s not gonna fly.

[00:38:28] It’s got gotta be a proper kinship that’s appropriately documented, to satisfy Homer phase. But it’s sort of joint bank accounts living in the same apartment at chipper. Yup. Okay.

[00:38:41] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:38:41] Sorry. And that sort of is the most effective way, whether you’ve got a, a partner, you said a wife or wife or husband or partner, a spouse, a de facto, and it’s dependent child.

[00:38:52] That’s all sort of included in that, that correct.

[00:38:54] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:38:54] Great. And, and, and we defined a defecto was 12 months in a relationship, living in the same place. It’s not like you [00:39:00] have to fall a stat dec or something. It’s like evidence that you were in a relationship. Okay.

[00:39:05] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:39:05] That’s good to know. If I, sorry, I’ve, if I do get back to Australia and that’s been my decision, how long does it take for Medicare?

[00:39:12] So I know a few people have asked about, you know, they, obviously we’re talking about health insurance earlier and making sure that they’ve, they might not have coverage here, so they head back to Australia. But if you’ve been here for some years, you may understand that you’re no longer covered by Medicare.

[00:39:25] And what’s the, what’s the process involved with getting back onto coverage.

[00:39:29] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:39:29] Well, first of all, you have to apply to services Straya okay? So you have to apply to there. So we, we, I’m not an agent of many Medicare, etc.  possible. It’s uncontrolled cases.  you been up, if you, if you’ve got a valid Medicare card.

[00:39:47] Very straight forward. We should have five EEG go home. No problem at all. Okay.

[00:39:52] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:39:52] If your Medicare card is valid, that should be, yep.

[00:39:54] You just sit back in. Yep. I can.

[00:39:57] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:39:57] now if he’d been away for five years, you have to re [00:40:00] enroll. And so what you need to do is you need to show that you’ve actually moving back to Australia to show your connection there, et cetera.

[00:40:07]you know, to sort of go in and have no connection. get some treatment and fly back again. That’s not really what it’s designed for. So, so a lot of the question will be, now let’s just again, again, looking at a risk assessment. If it’s not a state you’ve got proper health insurance, ya, your covenant cetera, you wouldn’t go and do that.

[00:40:27] Yes. If you are going to go back, you’re going to get it back. But effectively, we’re looking to people who are relocating to Australia as a, as opposed to somebody who’s affected  medical arbitrage. You’d be like, you can like that perspective, but, but absolutely. now if you’re going back just for a few weeks.

[00:40:46]you, you know, rather than, you know, some people might say, look, I want to go and see my parents for a few weeks, et cetera. That is not really a Medicare enrollment type thing. You’ve got to get travel insurance, et cetera. So again, we’re going to go back and live in [00:41:00] Australia and Ridomil solid cetera.

[00:41:02] Then you can apply for many, Medicare is pretty straight forward, but ineffective. You’re coming back for a few weeks, you know, that’s not the way to go.

[00:41:11] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:41:11] Yup. Okay. And I know this one, we did have a few people ask this, so I know it’s a little bit of a crystal ball question again, but if people do go back to Australia, do we have any idea about, you know, the, the Australian ban on departures about where that’s headed or what’s at least what’s the current government position on where that’s at

[00:41:30] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:41:30] so, so you need to show that you reside in the United States. Okay? It’s not me a permanent resident. It means you reside here. So for example, I’ve got an apartment is my lease. I’ve got my bank accounts, or I’ve got a business

[00:41:46] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:41:46] room until any bills and my utility bills.

[00:41:48] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:41:48] So basically saying, you know, and we have lots of lots of dual nationals, right?

[00:41:53] We have obviously a big green cup, but basically what you need to demonstrate is that you are a resident. Sorry. [00:42:00] You resodded the nada Stites yes. And they should not just come in here for a few weeks to see what it’s like to be in, you know, the Cobra and going home. So you’re not a tourist. Yeah. So that’s actually, again, I think a very flexible attitude.

[00:42:13] That’s sort of common sense as well.  you live here, you can come home, you can see people, you can see your parents and then you can come back cause you actually live here.

[00:42:22] Okay. Yup. So, yeah, there are other options. It’s, the ban is, yeah. Not necessarily for what it is, not for people who actually have a life, you know, they, they live abroad.

[00:42:32] That is, that’s not who’s meant to be included. It’s motivated stopping the travel and the holidays and, and people making quick trips.

[00:42:38] Correct. So, and, and I think if you, if you look at everything we’re doing, it’s around flexibility. I mean, there’s been remarkable, flexibility being shown here. Maybe not with the next topic, but, but in certain, in certain areas, you know, particularly we’ve just looked at comments, tents, if you live in the United States and you come home, you want to see your parents, et cetera, obviously you wouldn’t go through quarantine for two weeks.

[00:43:00] [00:43:00] Yeah.

[00:43:00] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:43:00] And that’s for everyone. That’s a quarantine. It’s a blanket everywhere.

[00:43:04] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:43:04] That’s the blanket for everyone. but you can do that and then come back. Absolutely. Okay.

[00:43:09] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:43:09] Yep. Is there, and I know there’s been some confusion about these, can Australian

[00:43:13] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:43:13] citizens always go

[00:43:15] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:43:15] back to Australia? Like is there the potential, you know, people are making this risk benefit analysis and sort of having a look at it and, and worried about, you know, if I don’t go back now in 12 months where they say nobody’s allowed in the country, is that something that Australians have to be worried about?

[00:43:31] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:43:31] No. I think if we’re not traveling in 12 months, we’re going to have very sure. So I bet that

[00:43:39] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:43:39] example. But

[00:43:40] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:43:40] what I’m saying is you sort of, and then you bring that forward. Sure. Yeah. So, so, there are no, there are no, I’d say nothing at all to suggest that Australians can’t go back. Right.

[00:43:53] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:43:53] Okay.

[00:43:54] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:43:54] Three weeks ago.

[00:43:56] I hadn’t seen the fact you need to be been quarantine for two weeks, [00:44:00] right? Yes. Yep. Well, all I’m saying it’s, it’s a very fluid situation, but no country around the world who said that its citizens can’t come back.

[00:44:08] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:44:08] Okay.

[00:44:09] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:44:09] So I think, you know, I would say as I bet in person, that’s pretty good. OBS, that’s not, and, and I think the, you know, the whole, the whole point about the prime minister’s coal some time ago was to say.

[00:44:24] Come on back. We’ll look after you. The Australians first. I think it was fantastic. I, the call that the prime minister made was really around. Pastoral care of Australia saying, look, you might overseas for 10 years. You welcome back. Yup. Look after you, et cetera. Your, you know, your, your fathers and sons of our country.

[00:44:41] So I think, I think it’s fantastic. I can’t see that changing now. The only thing I can see changing, for example, is let’s say there was a ban on domestic flights in the U S we’ve seen very sort of constraints there. So what happens there. Well, some of the airline site, we can’t make any money. They’re going to pull out.

[00:44:57] Okay. So it’s things like that model [00:45:00] logistics of actually doing it as opposed to the country itself saying we’re no longer allowing people in.

[00:45:04] Correct. It. You got to say, look, we can’t crystal ball that far.

[00:45:08] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:45:08] No. Sure.

[00:45:10] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:45:10] But I would say that, you know, it would be very, very surprised if we said Australians can’t come home.

[00:45:17] Yeah. And I think it’s important to highlight that that applies to Australians returning to Australia.

[00:45:22] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:45:22] Every different country has its own rights to restrict entry to whomever they want. So it is important to know that, you know, if you’re, you shouldn’t be traveling for holidays at the moment anyway, but there is a chance that other countries won’t let you transit through them.

[00:45:37] And as you said, it may become a logistical issue that flights can actually make it. So again, it’s making that. Reasonable assumption that if he can get back now, you should be and you want to move in the next few months. Yeah, good high time to pack your bags, but if you’re happy and settled for 12 months, then you know it’s fair to say that you can leave it as is and reassess down the [00:46:00] track.

[00:46:00] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:46:00] Yeah. And I think the community really breaks in the three groups, you know, the people who’ve been a long time, families, school, et cetera. You’ve got people invested in business here for 10 years. We’ll stay there, man. I have children, et cetera. And then you’ve got people on, you know, that have been here maybe on a, on a an 83 for a year.

[00:46:17] Things haven’t worked at, et cetera, et cetera. And they wondering what to do. And I think in each case. They very, very different decisions, but I think there’s fairly obvious outcomes. Oh, those,

[00:46:28] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:46:28] yeah. And

[00:46:29] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:46:29] to

[00:46:29] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:46:29] err on the side of caution, is that your advice from the very top, and I think that’s, that’s good advice.

[00:46:34] Yeah. We talked about, family members, and this is a, it’s a sensitive issue for a lot of people. you know, significant others and children, but also pets. That is one thing that we did get quite a few questions asking about how to transit pets back to Australia because people may have, may be a. The done that analysis and said, I need to go home, but how do I get my head back?

[00:46:55]there’s limited capacity on flights. Do you know anything about, getting pets [00:47:00] back in cargo or in, on flights?

[00:47:03] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:47:03] Yeah. Look, it’s not good news. Okay. So, and I know we’ve had a lot of questions about this, and people are very distraught. Many of the pets have been around for many, many years. They’re part of the family members.

[00:47:13] Yeah. But first of all, you know every time you fly into Australia, see those things saying a spray has got very severe biosecurity loads. Yes. If they’re there for a reason, they’re there to protect our rural communities. It didn’t predict our productivity. So we’ve always had this very strict rule on corn.

[00:47:31] Same with pace. Yep. There they, at the moment  the pets have to go through Melbourne. Okay. Now there’s no, there’s no passenger flights to Melbourne. So you can’t travel with your pet,

[00:47:46] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:47:46] you can’t get in. Yeah.

[00:47:46] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:47:46] Yep. Not get there. And they’re very, very fit. And the other thing is, if you haven’t been planning for this many, many months ago, you’ve got to remember it’s about a six month process to get back to Australia and quarantine.

[00:47:59] So if you [00:48:00] haven’t planned for it at least four or five months ago, then you’ve got to recognize you’re at a six month process. Yes. Yep. And there’s no short circuiting that process. Mmm. The facilities are fairly limited at the moment. Mmm. It’s, it’s difficult to achieve. And so I have to say that, you know, while you’ve seen this very flexible approach being taken on biosecurity, we simply can’t do that.

[00:48:27] So, it’s not good. It’s not okay. It’s very problematic. Yup,

[00:48:34] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:48:34] for sure. On, one other thing that just came up the, quarantining, and I don’t know if, I guess it’s just, what’s the official position at the moment for the compulsory quarantine? Do you know offhand what, like how long they forecast that to be the case when you go back to a Australia?

[00:48:50] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:48:50] No, I don’t, the quarantining issue. Mmm. He’s handled by the States. Okay. Came up in this call [00:49:00] today. Because being effectively interlocutors with the community, even though they’re run by the States, all of us and consulates and missions around the world are getting questions about, yes, can I get exemption for children, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:49:17] Yeah. And we, we have to say it’s depends on the individual state. okay. What I would say is that I, I suspect that we will get. Better information on that the next couple of weeks, because that is certainly Rima topically sip rips. That is certainly

[00:49:35] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:49:35] coming in, coming up a lot. Yep.

[00:49:37] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:49:37] Yep. A lot of particularly young families.

[00:49:40] Yup. but, it’s, it’s, it’s done by, it’s done by individual States. And you’ll notice that I mentioned that the Virgin Quantas flights are now going to Brisbane. That’s because we been so much pressure on Sydney, et cetera. Nothing’s fun in Melbourne right now. Mmm. About 80, it is actually up to the state health authorities that are Terman who [00:50:00] gets exempt and who doesn’t.

[00:50:01] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:50:01] Understood. Okay. fantastic. I think we’ve, we’ve done a pretty good job of going through the majority of the questions. thank you again. Do you have anything that you’d like to add?

[00:50:12] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:50:12] Yeah, I would simply say this, that, I probably said it three times interview view, but we’re really trying to help people.

[00:50:20]If, if you want me to come and if, if you’re helping out with the community, you know, for example, I’ve posted on Facebook quite a number of Australians that are giving food to various hospitals. we’re giving some food to the New York police department in certain areas, isn’t it? In precincts? If you have a store that you’d like to share with us, we’d like to share it with the community as well.

[00:50:43]and, and even though this is a very, very stressful time, you know, we, we just want to be part of your community, and think of us as, as somebody can reach out to. We’ve got a lot of, a lot of expertise. I mean, I’m a generalist as a console general. it’s a [00:51:00] terrible pun, but we had, you know, we have a possible, and consular team have had years and years and years of experience.

[00:51:07] I’ve got great relationships back. If there’s a question, like I strike back and get it sorted out. Yeah. Fantastic. So see us as a resource. Don’t see us as the people that’s going to sort of get your magic, a private jet flight back from New York. Yes. Patriate it’s just not going to happen. Yeah. And again, do that risk assessment be very straight and I think it’s strange.

[00:51:29] We’re very, so for a lot, yeah, we are here to help, but in terms of that risk assessment, well, you sit down, every circumstance is different. If you want to have an individual discussion with, with our team. Absolutely. We hate to do that. Fantastic.

[00:51:43] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:51:43] Well, thank you again.

[00:51:44] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:51:44] We’ll start. Great initiative.

[00:51:46] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:51:46] Sure.

[00:51:46] Thank you very much for sitting down.

[00:51:48] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:51:48] No, no, it’s fantastic. Thank you very much.

[00:51:50] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:51:50] No, thank you. And thank you to everyone that has tuned in. We’ve had some amazing questions and we’ve had continual questions that we, I hope we’ve touched on throughout.

[00:51:59] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:51:59] Just a [00:52:00] reminder

[00:52:00] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:52:00] to everyone that Alastair is interviewing Zjantelle Markel from Cammisa Markel, she’s a fantastic immigration lawyer who can answer a lot of the questions that I’m saying. If you’re in the chat, and I’m not ignoring you, but they’re questions about unemployment and benefits and things that would be best answered by an immigration attorney, and she will cover that because she’s talked about those before. So be sure to keep an eye out.  And as I said, we’ll send links about the consulates Facebook groups and website, the saving. So jump onto their fight the consulates Facebook page tomorrow, and you’ll find a link to that webinar. Tuning to that. I’ve got information on my website, America, josh.com, forward slash Corona, which has lots of information and I’m sharing all sorts of resources that I find from reliable, teams, including Alistair’s team at the consulate.

[00:52:45] Mmm. Just so everyone knows. I also host Friday night drinks, as Alistair mentioned, they do theirs as well, but I do a trivia and drinks, just to lighten the mood and not talk about quite, you know, these are very sensitive topics and it’s a stressful time. So [00:53:00] trying to connect that community and make sure we’re all talking.

[00:53:02] Cause I think as much as. We want to make sure you’re getting advice from the consulate and professionals. It’s also important to make sure that we’re, we’re still talking and we’re communicating as much as possible. Yeah. So thank you again everyone. We’re going to send out a feedback form which allows you to ask questions.

[00:53:17] If you’ve got any followups that you’d like, including questions that you might want to ask Shanto those Thursday that can be fed through that feedback form. but thank you again. I will stay up very much and thanks to everyone at the consulate for helping out in getting us here today. Thanks

[00:53:33] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:53:33] Josh.

[00:53:33] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:53:33] Great initiative.

[00:53:34] Alastair Walton (Consul-General of Australia to New York): [00:53:34] Good on you.

[00:53:35] Josh Pugh (America Josh): [00:53:35] Thank you everyone.

About the Author

America Josh

I had a fantastic life in Adelaide and in Australia but thought in late 2015 that it was time to do something new. I handed over control of my company, sold my house, car, and even gave away my cat (“Aslan”) to start on my journey to New York.

I arrived in New York on January 10, 2017, from Adelaide, South Australia and in March 2017, I started America Josh to help make the transition to the US from wherever you’re from just a little bit easier.

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