Steve Price: Australian budget 2021, election possibilities and border closures


Manage episode 292065728 series 2098285
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Scott Morrison has hit back at comments attributed to him in The Daily Telegraph today, claiming the publication misreported quotes about Australia’s COVID strategy.
Posting to Facebook, he refuted a front-page article which claimed he said international borders would remain closed because Australians want to “eliminate” coronavirus.
It also said he had no plans to “abandon a target of zero cases”. Mr Morrison says neither quote is correct.
“Australia’s COVID suppression strategy has not changed to an ‘elimination’ strategy nor is ‘zero cases’ our goal as reported today,” he wrote.
“These statements were not made, were misreported in the article and have now been corrected on-line.
“There will always be cases as we return Australians home from overseas,” he said.
He went on to reiterate that international borders “will only open when it is safe to do so”, adding that there are “still many uncertainties ahead”.
It comes amid reports Australians dreaming of international travel or reuniting with family members overseas have a long wait on their hands.
In the same interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Morrison said he “doesn’t see an appetite” for Australia opening to the world at the moment, adding that he intends to be “cautious” while rolling out the vaccine scheme.
He added that it was still unclear how effective coronavirus vaccines were in preventing transmission.
“I think what we’re seeing at the moment is the appreciation of the people that the pandemic isn’t going anywhere,” Mr Morrison said.
“All I know is once you let (COVID-19) back in again, you cannot get it out. You’ve crossed that threshold. We continue to roll out the vaccination program, over the course of this year, and in the meantime, I intend to be cautious, it’s in my nature.”
Mr Morrison said there was not yet “considerable clinical evidence that tells us transmission is preventable” after the jab.
“I think Australians want to ensure that the way we’re living at the moment is maintained,” he said.
It follows Finance Minister Simon Birmingham’s comments on Thursday that international borders opening was unlikely to happen soon because there has been a “clear message” Australians do not want to “risk COVID entering this country”.
“It’s very hard to put a precise timeline or indicator on it because there’s a range of factors again that will influence that,” he said.
“We’re dealing now – in May of 2021 – with arguably a more uncertain global environment with the management of COVID than we had a few months ago,” he added, in reference to a India’s spiralling COVID crisis and “uncertainties” surrounding the vaccine.
India has been beset by the virus, prompting the government to ban anyone from travelling to Australia if they had been to India in the previous fortnight. The ban will be lifted on May 15.
“These create uncertainties, the uncertainties around aspects of the vaccine rollout including the duration of effectiveness of vaccines, what it means in relation to other variants of COVID,” Mr Birmingham said.
“They’re all factors that we will have to take into consideration.”
He concluded, “But we’re not going to be making promises in relation to reopening the borders that are holding out a false hope when there’s a lot of analysis to still be done before we actually get to the point of making that firm decision.”
Mr Morrison last week said his government was working on a prospective vaccine passport system, which would allow those with the jab to travel more freely.
He noted a condition of such a system would be proof that vaccines protect travellers against the transmission of the virus.
The success of the rollout will play a big part in any planned vaccine passport system, which would allow Australians to travel abroad.
China unveiled its digital passport system last month, with other countries including the US announcing similar plans.
It would allow travellers to prove that they had been vaccinated in order to enter another country.
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