Subjects: Vaccination targets and lockdowns
AMANDA STOKER: As we’ve seen with some of the protests that happened over the weekend, Australians are eager to get to the resumption of the freedoms they know and love. To get back to enjoying work and study, and all of the things that make living in this country great. The Morrison Government has a plan, with four steps to it, that is all about getting us back to normal. And at its core is vaccination. Every three days, a million Australians get a jab in their arm. Over 17 million jabs so far. While vaccination is voluntary, not mandatory, we’re counting on Australians here to step up and do what’s necessary to protect their families, to protect their loved ones, and protect the wider community. Every time we step up and do our little bit by getting a jab in the arm, we get ourselves one step closer to the resumption of the life we know and love in this country. And so, I offer that encouragement to Australians, to keep on going, to do their bit, and protect the people they love, by making sure they talk to their GP or go to their pharmacist and get the vaccination that is the key to live as we like to in this great, beautiful country.
JOURNALIST: Queensland and WA obviously don’t want to let the virus in from New South Wales, is it fair enough for them to keep their borders closed, when 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated.
AMANDA STOKER: It’s really important that the agreement that has been made at National Cabinet between the state and the territories is honoured. And it is a simple and practical plan; it’s the idea that once we get to a reasonable level of vaccination, we can open up our border, we can move past this rolling sequence of lockdowns, and we can start to resume the life of freedom that Australians love. It is not ok for state governments to change the goalposts or to, in their own political games, try to manipulate this for their own game. Australians, the economy, and the lifestyle we enjoy, demands the honouring of that agreement.
JOURNALIST: But how can the federal government control the dissenting states?
AMANDA STOKER: Look, there’s a number of different ways that this can be worked through. But ultimately, what needs to happen is that Australians hold their state governments accountable for their decisions. And that means that state governments who decline or refuse to do what’s necessary to allow this country to get back on its feet in all of the ways that we love, need to be held accountable by Australians.
JOURNALIST: But zero Covid is obviously, you know, the preference for most people. It’s politically popular, isn’t it? So surely people in WA and Queensland would support the decision of their premiers to not want the virus to come to the states?
AMANDA STOKER: That’s a matter for Australians, and I’m not offering commentary on these things. The facts are these: vaccination is the path forward, the federal government has made sure there is an abundance of supply of vaccination so that the states can do their bit, and that is to make sure that they are being delivered to the Australians who need to get a vaccination, so we can open up and get back to normal. If state government’s stand in the way of what’s necessary for people to get back to the lives that the love, despite the fact that there is the security of vaccination on offer and available, then those state governments should no longer get the popularity that they have previously been awarded with.
JOURNALIST: Is the fundamental problem, though, that some states are still striving for eliminating Covid, when it’s now clear in New South Wales that that won’t happen?
AMANDA STOKER: Well I think we need to be sensible about this, and the sensible strategy is for us to suppress the virus until we get to the point that vaccination is sufficient that we know Australians who come into contact with the virus are going to have really good prospects of recovery. That’s always been the plan. And we are charging ahead on reaching that vaccination target. Once we get to 70 and 80 per cent, we can be pretty assured that our hospital wards are ready to cope, and when people who are vaccinated are unlucky enough to catch the virus, they will have really good prospects of recovery. That’s what looking forward to a life with the virus looks like. And once we’re doing that, there’s no reason why we can’t reopen in the way that I know so many Australians who are feeling locked down fatigue, want to get on with.
JOURNALIST: Thanks Senator.