Scott Morrison's interview with David Koch and Natalie Barr, Sunrise

  • Written by David Koch

DAVID KOCH: Prime Minister Scott Morrison joins us now. Prime Minister, a lot to talk about this morning. Victoria opening up new freedoms. Is that the right thing to do, even though case numbers are still high?


PRIME MINISTER: Well, I can officially confirm, just got the figures, Victoria has reached 70.51 per cent vaccination rate double dose right across the state, and good on Tassie, too, because they've hit 70.6 per cent. Right across the country now, 70.83 per cent, and under the National Plan that means they can now move into Phase B. They can start taking the steps, as you say, at 11.59 tonight. The longest road has been  journeyed in Victoria, and that long road really open, starts to open up tonight. But, as always, all states and territories coming from a different starting point. They’ll all cautiously find their way back. This is not a big opening in that first step. In the Australian way, we move cautiously, but we move deliberately, so we can safely open up so we can remain open safely. That's the key. We've got to stay open once we get open.


NATALIE BARR: Yeah. And as we've seen in the last couple of weeks, Prime Minister, restaurants, cafes, a lot of businesses are really crying out for staff. They don't seem to be able to get enough, by any means.




BARR: Would you consider opening the international borders to students, to backpackers, those sort of people, earlier than, I think, what you've said, next year?


PRIME MINISTER: Well, we've said on students, in particular, and on skilled migration, I, we’ll see that happening in New South Wales next month. We'll start seeing that in late November, early December. On international visitors, well, we'll see how Australians coming back first goes there. And I have no doubt that Victoria also will start going down that path. So, that's what the National Plan does. When we get to international visitors more broadly, well, we'll see how that's going, because we have to ensure that we just keep opening up consistently, safely. We keep taking steps each and every day so we can stay safely open. We don't want to see what's happened in other parts of the world where people have moved too fast. We have done this scientifically, let me stress. These 70 per cent and 80 per cent vaccination rates, as targets, have been set through the best scientific analysis in the world by Melbourne's own Doherty Institute. There wasn't some calendar day that this was done. This was based on achieving scientifically proven vaccination targets. That's the Australian way. That's how we've been able to save lives and save livelihoods.


KOCH: Prime Minister, do you think it's a bit weird, though, that some families can welcome a relative from London for Christmas, but not from Perth who are in our own country?


PRIME MINISTER: Oh, sure. Of course that, yeah, no, I think that's, I think that's a fair point. And, look, I think the scenes in Victoria of families being reunited after so long was tremendous to see. I think that's great. I welcome the fact that Queensland now has gone to home quarantine in specific circumstances, but there's 8,000 Queenslanders we want to see get home to Queensland as well. And whether it's in WA [sic] or Western Australia, the message is very clear: let's get those vaccination rates up. There are enough vaccines in Queensland, in Western Australia, South Australia, the rest of the country to ensure that we can hit those double dose vaccination rates, which achieves that outcome. That's how you get there under the National Plan. That's what we're seeing in New South Wales, here in the ACT, now in Victoria, Tasmania in the future, they're moving forward as well. Hitting those vaccination rates is what opens Australia up safely and enables us to remain safely open.


BARR: So, you support WA’s decision to wait until maybe Easter next year to reopen?


PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don't believe it will take that long, frankly. I just don't. I mean, I remember some months ago you asked me on this very program what would happen, and I said, “Well, let's see what happens.” And at that stage, other states were saying they wouldn't open up by Christmas, and now they are. So, let's just see what happens. Let's get those vaccination rates up. That's what matters. Let's just get people vaccinated, and that gives everybody the opportunity to take these steps forward under the National Plan. But the National Plan is working. We are opening up and we're doing it safely. That's the important thing.


KOCH: What does the National Plan say about the unvaccinated? Because in New South Wales, unvaccinated residents, from December 1, get the same restriction, get the same freedoms as vaccinated. In Victoria, that's not going to happen. They haven't put a date on it, they're saying, you know, don't wait us out, get vaccinated, who knows when you'll get the same freedom. Who's right?


PRIME MINISTER: Well, you have to be careful about those who are unvaccinated, because as we're seeing all around the world, the hospitals are full of people who are unvaccinated. That's where the pandemic goes to. The virus finds the people who are unvaccinated, and that's what can put stress and strain on your hospital system. That's why you've got to get those vaccination rates up to 80 per cent. Once you get past 80 per cent, and you have that strong level of protection in the community, I mean, New South Wales is now well over 80 per cent. Australia is now en route to being one of the most vaccinated countries on the planet, and that's being achieved because of the tremendous response we've had from Australians. By the end of this month, there will be enough vaccines to ensure that everyone who wanted a vaccine will have been able to have get one. Now, that's what we said would happen, we, right back last year. Now, we had our challenges, as you know. You've asked me about it on this program. But we overcame those challenges, we've got over those issues, and now we're achieving those marks. And, so, I want to thank Australians for working with us to get over those problems, and we've got there, and particularly today, well done, Victoria. Enjoy 11.59 tonight. You've earned it. But let's do it safely. Let's do it carefully, because we want to stay safely open, and I'm sure that will be the case. 


BARR: Ok, let's talk about booster shots.




BARR: We know that the drug companies are in the midst of trying to get them through. Where are we at with that?


PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, we will finalise the plan for boosters. I've asked for that to be ready for our next meeting of National Cabinet, certainly, which is in November. We'll start doing the booster shots in aged care facilities. We have one, if not the most, protected aged care system on vaccination in the world today. I mean, with both the vaccination of aged care workers and, of course, the vaccination of residents themselves. And that's why during this very significant third wave of the virus we've had here in Australia, we haven't seen what we saw last year when, of course, we didn't have the vaccines. So, that booster program, that will be finalised over the next couple of weeks. That's what I've asked to come back from, from the Minister for Health. He is and he has been working on that and he made some comments about that yesterday. I mean, Greg Hunt has done a fantastic job, together with General Frewen and Brendan Murphy, Professor Murphy, and all of the team to get that going. TGA still has, and ATAGI, they still have a bit of work to do there. That'll get done and that will enable us to get that booster program starting next month.


KOCH: Ok, I know you’ve got to go, but just quickly …


PRIME MINISTER: And there's plenty of vaccines for the boosters too, I should say.


KOCH: Good.


PRIME MINISTER: There's plenty of vaccines for the boosters. They're all sorted.


KOCH: Good to hear. Before you go, Glasgow Glasgow Climate Change Summit coming up, 2050 net zero emissions target that you want across a line. How close are the Nationals to agreeing? 


PRIME MINISTER: Look, we're working together. The decision will be made by Cabinet, by the Government before I head to Glasgow about this time next week.


KOCH: Yeah.


PRIME MINISTER: And I'm looking forward to us coming to a conclusion on that. See, this is a big challenge. It's, there's a lot of things to work through. The impacts of what's happening globally with the world's response to climate change, of course, they'll have impacts here on rural and regional communities, and Australians will be able to trust my Government to do the right thing by them to achieve what we need to achieve in our response to climate change and to ensure the jobs and the futures of people in rural and regional Australia are protected and supported into the future. Embracing new technologies, while at the same time keeping our industries and jobs forging ahead. We’ve reduced emissions 20 per cent on 2005 levels. United States can't say that. New Zealand can't say that. Canada can't say that. We can. We hit our targets, we meet our targets, we beat our targets, and that's our record. And I'm looking forward to sharing that news with the world and the commitments we intend to make going forward.


KOCH: Prime Minister, appreciate your time. Thank you. 


PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot, guys.
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