Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said state premiers should have no reason to keep borders shut once we reach the goal of having 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. Frydenberg made the comments on the Today show Friday morning.
“If you get that vaccination rate up, we do know from the medical experts, who know a lot more than you or I … they tell us that that is the ticket out of this crisis,” he said.
“The state premiers should have no expectation that our Commonwealth assistance will continue in the scale that it has been to date because we are working to a plan and that is why the vaccination target of 70 and 80 per cent is so important.”
Frydenberg went on to say that Australians will have to learn to accept the fact that even once we reach vaccination target there are going to be more cases and deaths.
“So people have to be straight with the public and tell them there are going to be more cases,” he said. “There are going to be deaths. But we can’t live in lockdown forever. That’s our message. And that’s why I’m saying to the premiers and to the chief ministers, the government’s emergency economic support does not continue indefinitely. It is there until we get the vaccination rate to the levels that they agreed with the prime minister at national cabinet.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said that once we have reached a vaccination target, lockdowns should be a last resort. You can read more about Australia’s four-phase plan out of Covid here.
New South Wales has been in lockdown for more than two months now. On Thursday, the state recorded 681 new local Covid-19 cases, the highest number the state has recorded in a day, and one death.
“The next few weeks will be hard, but no doubt that once we get those high vaccination rates life will feel much better, it will look much rosier,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday. “As the Doherty report says, once you get to 80 per cent double dose and you have to open up, everyone will have to learn to live with Delta.”
There are several other states currently in lockdown, including Victoria, who recorded 55 new cases overnight, and the ACT.
Frydenberg’s comments come after Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said he’s keen to pursue a zero Covid policy in the WA.
“Our preferred option is zero Covid obviously and that’s what we’ll attempt to do,” McGowan said earlier this month.
“And we don’t want to have deaths and we don’t want to have spread of the virus, but there can be some easing of some of the rules. When you get to 70, perhaps 80, if there is a lockdown it might be a lesser area rather than the entire metropolitan area. It might be a country town rather than the entire region.
“We retain the right to put in place border [restrictions], that’s understood, but some of the measures we put in place might ease, once we reach that level of vaccination.
“I’m looking forward to getting over 80 per cent, apparently no country in the world has got there yet.”