The Prime Minister's interview with Ally Langdon, Today Show

ALLY LANGDON: Prime Minister Scott Morrison joins us now in Canberra. PM, nice to see you. Tassie's also at 70 per cent. Did you do a little dance when you heard those words? 


PRIME MINISTER: I must admit I did, and I'm really pleased for both Victoria and Tassie. Victoria at 70.51 per cent, a fantastic effort. 70.6 there in Tasmania. Victoria has had the hardest and the longest road when it comes to COVID-19. They've had to go through so much and so it was great to see those wonderful scenes of people being reunited yesterday and we'll see that more in the future. They're opening safely so they can stay safely open. And to Tassie especially, where COVID rates have been very low, but they've still been hitting those high vax rates. So well down Tassie, but particularly Victoria, you've worked long and hard for this, well done. 


LANGDON: So just show us what that dance looks like exactly, Prime Minister. 


PRIME MINISTER: I'll wait till the whole country's there, then you'll see it. 


LANGDON: I'll tell you what, though. For someone who said it wasn't a race, you're celebrating the victory. 


PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's always how you bring it home. That's the end. I mean, we've had our challenges with this programme, but we, you know, we originally said even last year that we hope to be at a point that we would be hitting these, these vaccination rates in October. And we've overcome those challenges and we've got it on track. And I particularly thank Greg Hunt and General Frewen and Professor Murphy. We've all worked together with Australians to get us to this point. There's further to go, though. We've got to keep those vaccination rates continuing to lift and to your viewers, particularly in Queensland and Western Australia, we're still in the 50s, we're on the right side of the 50s, but we need that to keep going up so they can have the same things that we're now starting to see in New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and increasingly Tasmania, South Australia too. We want to get people home and both from overseas, but also within Australia. Get them back into Queensland. We want to see, there's 8,000 people looking to get home to Queensland, about 7,000 looking to get home to South Australia, and it's important that we get Australians home and reunited. 


LANGDON: Look, I mean, you just touched on there, this big gap we've got between states and territories, some in their 50s, New South Wales and the ACT charging ahead. Do you have any concerns with the pace that New South Wales has set coming out of lockdown because Dominic Perrottet, he's going beyond the health advice. 


PRIME MINISTER: Well, no, that's not my understanding. They're acting consistent as I understand it, with their health advice and consistent with the National Plan ...


LANGDON: The Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant yesterday, just to clarify, would not completely support the moves that Dominic Perrottet has moved. 


PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's other's commentary. But what I'm saying is, what the steps that are being taken in New South Wales, they've moved to a position where they won't be having quarantine for those coming back from the 1st of November. All Australians right around the country from the 1st of November will be able to leave if they're double vaccinated and they'll be able to come back into New South Wales without quarantine. I expect we'll start seeing that happen in other states and territories as those vaccination rates continue to rise. But the good news is our double vax right now is higher than the United States. Our first vaccination rate is higher than countries like Israel and Germany and the EU, the OECD average. And in a couple of days time, our first dose vaccination rates are going to pass the United Kingdom. So Australians, as you say, we're finishing strong and that's what matters. 


LANGDON: All of this though, as Mark McGowan, I mean he's talking about April, maybe later before reopening. What are you going to do about him? 


PRIME MINISTER: Well, we're going to get vax rates higher in Western Australia. That's that's what we have to do. And I've heard those dates. But I mean, they said Queensland wasn't going to open before Christmas. Queensland is opening before Christmas. I said at the time, the national plan, you know, that's the deal. People are keeping their side of the deal. Victorians have kept their side of the deal. 70.51 per cent. Tassie are keeping their side of the deal and we've all got to keep ours. The federal government, we're opening up on the international borders and it's important that all governments around the country reward that effort from Australians getting vaccinated. Why? Because these are scientifically proven targets that provide the protection to people so we can safely open. I know Australians, whether in Western Australia or Queensland, I mean, I know they have concerns about COVID. I get that. I understand it. That's why vaccination is so important. Vaccination gives the confidence to move forward. 


LANGDON: Well, Prime Minister, I can guarantee that WA is not going to be open for Christmas. Who's causing you more dramas at the moment, is it McGowan or Barnaby Joyce?


PRIME MINISTER: Neither because we're both working to the national plans for the country and getting things done. I'm looking forward to bringing some of those important issues together before I head off to Glasgow. This is an important challenge, addressing climate change. But we also have to ensure that the world's response to climate change, which will have an impact on rural and regional parts of the country. We need to ensure that our plans are addressing those needs. You know, so Australians can rely on my government. They can trust my government, my Coalition Government to ensure that the rural and regional needs of the country are addressed, while we also do what we need to do on addressing climate change. We've reduced emissions by over 20 per cent already. Canada, New Zealand, United States, none of them can say that. We meet and beat our targets. That's how Australians do things. 


LANGDON: Well, Barnaby reckons he's going to get his list of demands to you today. It sounds like it's going to be expensive. You're going to show him the money? 


PRIME MINISTER: We're going to continue working this through and come to the right decision for Australia. The Cabinet will make that decision before I head off to Glasgow. But what's important is we're getting emissions down. We're getting jobs up. We're ensuring we're addressing the challenges of climate change. We're dealing with supporting the jobs and futures of people in rural and regional Australia. The Nationals, together with the Liberals, are working together to support rural and regional Australia and making sure that we're doing the right thing to take action on climate change. 


LANGDON: Are you looking forward to seeing the French President over there in Glasgow? Could be awkward.


PRIME MINISTER: Well, I am sure we'll bump into each other along the way. But you know, look, we understand that, we've talked about this. Australia has to make decisions in our national interests. That's what we've done. We want a great relationship with the French, but that means also Australia has to do things that we have to do at times and we'll work through the other issues. 


LANGDON: Yep, we all get that. I just reckon it's going to be a little awkward when you two walk into the room at the same time. 


PRIME MINISTER: Well look, perhaps.


LANGDON: But it is what it is. We get that. Hey, look how we had Jacqui Lambie earlier. She was talking about former Attorney General Christian Porter, and you blocking an investigation into who paid his legal fees. This was her on the show. 




LANGDON: She has a point, doesn't she? 


PRIME MINISTER: Well, what we've referred to the privileges committee is this broader issue of these crowdsourcing funding arrangements, I mean, there are a number of members of Parliament who have had these arrangements and they're in the parliament now. There isn't just one. And so what we've referred to the privileges committee is to ensure that they can get some clear rules when politicians are defamed and how they can actually defend themselves. And so let's let's get those rules very clear for everybody. Some will try and pursue this as a political trial, and I get that that's what that's what political parties do. The Labor Party will have their go, others will have their go, the politics …


LANGDON: But come on, I mean this is the nation's former top legal officer that we're talking about here, potentially accepting money from what we don't know, could be criminals, foreign powers, or nothing sinister at all. I mean, forget the pub test. This doesn't pass any kind of test. 


PRIME MINISTER: Well, well, the former member has resigned from the Cabinet, and that matter was dealt with decisively. What I'm saying here, though, Ally, is there are many other members of Parliament who have been in this situation about how they fund legal costs to pursue defamation actions. And that's not just one member. There are other members and we've got to get the rules clear. That's why we've referred that matter to the privileges committee. If others want to play politics with it, that's their prerogative. I want to make sure the rules are right so the integrity is protected. So the government has referred those issues to the privileges committee to ensure the rules are clear and that everybody can be judged on the same basis. 


LANGDON: OK, and let's just to finish focus on on the good stuff that's happening today with Victoria opening tonight. The vax rates. Who would you say out of all the states and territories, is your favourite child right now? 


PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's probably more who am I happiest for today. I've got my two daughters and I love them all as much every single day. But on some days one of them has something to really cheer and celebrate for, and it's great to be cheering and celebrate with our Victorian Australians today and also to Tassie, Tasmanian Australians. So today, you know, I'm doing that little dance with Victoria and Tassie. 


LANGDON: I can't believe you just told us your favourite child, that you answered it. Victoria and Tassie. 


PRIME MINISTER: Who I am happy for. 


LANGDON: It is a great day for them. And that was the dance he did when he heard 70 percent. Nice to see you this morning, Prime Minister. Thanks for your time. 


PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Ally. All the best.


LANGDON: You too.
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