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Dutton backs major mask rule change

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Qantas’ decision to scrap masks has led to an endorsement from Peter Dutton, but he says it’s time to go further.

Peter Dutton has thrown his weight behind the removal of mandates requiring face masks to be worn on incoming international flights to Australia.

Qantas lifted its requirement on Tuesday for passengers to wear masks on outbound flights when the destination does not require them, such as the US, the UK and some European countries.

But current health regulations say passengers on inbound international flights and domestic flights must still wear the coverings.

Speaking with Sydney’s 2GB, the opposition leader said the current settings didn’t pass the pub test.

“We’ve taken a decision to take the health advice, that’s always prudent; but if you’ve got a situation where on one leg of the flight you’ve got to wear a mask, but not the other, that just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Mr Dutton agreed with host Ben Fordham’s claim it was a “handbrake” on the economy, given some may avoid Australia due to the requirement.

Instead, the choice to wear a mask should be left with the individual, he said.

“I don’t support mandating of it and I agree with Alan Joyce’s position.”

During the wide ranging interview, Mr Dutton was asked about his position on the ongoing talks between the government and Sri Lanka.

It follows the interception of several asylum seeker boats heading to Australia to escape the nation’s deepening economic crisis.

But Mr Dutton said the boats were coming not because of the crisis, but because Labor had “abandoned” Operation Sovereign Borders.

“But already we’ve had four (boats) that we know of, that have attempted to make their way here and dozens of others that have been stopped coming out of Sri Lanka,” he said.

“The only thing that’s changed … is that we’ve got a new government.”

“I hope for the sake of our country that the boats stop, but I fear the duel messaging that’s coming from Labor … I worry that the people smugglers are hearing that mixed message.”

New Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil touched down in Sri Lanka on Monday ahead of high level discussions on co-operation on people smuggling and transnational crime.

On climate, Mr Dutton said he would not be moved despite anonymous MPs claiming they would be prepared to cross the floor to vote for Labor’s emissions reduction targets.

“We took our policy to the election and millions of Australians voted for us on that basis. That’s the position that we’ll take forward.

“Over time, if you’ve got new information before you and a new proposition, well, that can be considered by the party room.”

Originally published as Peter Dutton adds to calls for masks to be removed on international flights

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