Australia

Michael McCormack insists Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout is ‘not a race’

Michael McCormack is sticking to the prime minister’s line that it is “not a race” to get people vaccinated.

Mr McCormack, who is acting prime minister with Scott Morrison on an official trip to New Zealand, also does not believe there is hesitancy in getting the COVID-19 jab, with 120,000 people vaccinated on Saturday and a similar number the day before.

“It is not a race, it has to be systematic,” Mr McCormack told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“It has to be rolled out in a way that Australians obviously need to know that they have to get the jab but we can’t have everybody going and getting it at the same time.”

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino is among many pointing the finger at the federal government, saying a successful vaccine rollout and fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities may have changed Victoria’s fate.

There was similar criticism from Queensland’s Deputy Premier Steven Miles who suggested the cost of building such facilities would pale in comparison to the economic impact of strict lockdown measures.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has condemned the government’s defence of hotel quarantine.

“Scott Morrison speaks about the success rate. What he doesn’t say is that with every failure, there are very serious consequences – for health, for our economy and for people being able to go about their lives,” he said.

With the JobKeeper package now gone, Mr Albanese said the government must introduce financial support for Victorians in lockdown.

Victoria reported five new community cases of coronavirus on Sunday from more than 45,000 tests.

State Health Minister Martin Foley on Saturday refused to speculate whether the lockdown – which is forecast to cost the state $1 billion – would be extended but said authorities were “getting close on the heels” of the outbreak.

Mr McCormack said the federal government was working closely with the state to make sure it only lasts seven days.

“If the Victorians do the right thing and the contract tracking and tracing occurs as it needs to, hopefully by Thursday the restrictions will be lifted,” he said.

“It’s entirely up to the Victorian state government and their public health authorities. But we don’t want to see closed borders.”

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