Mr Frydenberg announced the new position less than an hour after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton defended the $1000 charge.
A journalist asked on Friday why the government was charging $1000 when in previous instances, such as the Arab Spring and unrest in Lebanon, there was no charge. Mr Morrison insisted the charge was standard policy and had been applied in the past.
“That’s not true,” Mr Morrison replied. “They were charged on those arrangements. These are the standard arrangements that are put in place by DFAT for assisted departures.”
However, Mr Frydenberg acknowledged on Sunday the Prime Minister was wrong because he was given incorrect advice from DFAT, but said the department had done a “fantastic job”.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs have said publicly that they provided the incorrect information originally, particularly about the arrangements in place when people came out of Cairo during the Arab Spring,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Mr Dutton described the charge as “appropriate” on Sky News on Sunday morning, saying most people in Wuhan would’ve paid more than $1000 for a return commercial flight and many had insurance or had received refunds.
“There is also a precedence as I am advised from [the Department of Foreign Afairs and Trade] that in [similar] circumstances people before have paid a sum of money,” Mr Dutton said.
“I don’t think it’s inappropriate that there is that charge,” he said.
Mr Dutton also launched a spray at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for breaching the confidence of the chief medical officer after a meeting about coronavirus for political purposes.
He accused Ms Palszczuk of acting in an “appalling” way by revealing details to the public about advice provided about the outbreak after she called on the federal government to stop flights landing in Australia from mainland China on Saturday. She said the move would help stem the spread of the virus, and she called for calm following a Queensland Disaster Management Committee meeting.
“Yesterday, after she’d had a briefing from her medical officer about the issues … in relation to coronavirus, she went out smugly calling for the government to act in relation to flights from China,” he said.
There are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Queensland, with the Australia-wide figure reaching 12 on Saturday. Globally, about 12,000 people are affected. Qantas will suspend services to mainland China from February 9.
The federal government announced on Saturday travellers from China will be banned from entering Australia for two weeks, while Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families will be asked to self-isolate for this time.
Ms Palaszczuk had asked the government to impose a block on travel, similar to those put in place in the US and Singapore.
“She’d been out earlier in the day actually reassuring the Chinese community that she supported them and no other premier broke the confidence of the chief medical officer’s meeting except Annastacia Palaszczuk for her own political purposes,” Mr Dutton said.
“So I thought it was an absolutely disgraceful act yesterday and it undermined the confidence within that committee, and I think she’s got a lot of questions to answer for.”
A spokesman for the Premier’s office said she was “well within her rights” to make the calls she had when it came to the safety of people in Queensland.
“The only person who is revealing the inner workings of that committee is Peter Dutton,” he said.
Jennifer Duke is a media and telecommunications journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.