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Dutton: “I would’ve had Captain Cook’s boat towed back to England. Unless, of course, it was carrying 850 passengers infected with coronavirus, in which case I would’ve organised a meet-and-greet at Circular Quay”.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has weighed into the so-called ‘culture wars’ debate about Captain Cook, saying he would’ve had the explorer towed back to England, or at the very least detained on Manus Island.

Mr Dutton said under his tough border control policies, there would have been no exemptions made for international explorers sailing close to Australian waters, no matter where they came from.

“The obvious exception would’ve been if there was a high risk that the passengers and crew were Covid-19 positive. In that case I would have instructed the boat to immediately dock in central Sydney and for the passengers to disembark as they saw fit”.

He said having control over the nation’s borders was paramount. “The message on this couldn’t be clearer. It doesn’t matter who you are – if you come here on a boat, you won’t be allowed to land here unless you’ve got a highly transmissible disease or  au pair employment with someone I know”.

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