COVID-19

PM’s fury over lockdown blame

Greater Sydney is in the midst of at least a five-week lockdown, while Melburnians were told on Tuesday that they faced another week at the minimum confined to their homes. South Australia was also plunged into a seven-day lockdown on Tuesday after the Delta variant spread from NSW to the state. Speaking to Adelaide’s FIVEaa radio on Wednesday morning, the Prime Minister – who had not been publicly seen or heard from since the weekend – hit back after hosts David and Will said “the reason you’ve got 12 million people in lockdown is because you got it (the rollout) so wrong in the first place”. “No, I don’t accept that,” Mr Morrison said. “Right now, under no plan, was there any plan that said we’d be at 65-70 per cent vaccination in this country. Under no plan. “Australia was always going to be in the suppression phase this year.”In a separate interview on ABC Adelaide, Mr Morrison deflected responsibility for the slow vaccine rollout once again. “We’ve had our problems … many have been out of our control,” he said on Wednesday. Mr Morrison also said it was unfair Australia’s vaccine rollout was being criticised but New Zealand’s was not.“They have vaccination rates basically the same as ours … But I don’t think anyone is suggesting any failure of the New Zealand vaccination program,” Mr Morrison said.According to Our World in Data, New Zealand is one step ahead of Australia with 12 per cent of their population fully vaccinated compared with 11 per cent in Australia.Mr Morrison’s comments come after weeks of mounting blame on the slow vaccine rollout causing lockdowns across the country. Earlier this month, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state “could not live” with the Delta variant while vaccination rates were so low. “If we chose to live with this while the rates of vaccinations are at 9 per cent, we will see thousands and thousands of hospitalisations and deaths,” she said on July 9.As recently as Wednesday morning, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro told ABC Breakfast that the vaccination rollout was “letting the state down”.“We need people to get vaccinated and we need the federal government to increase supply … In NSW, demand is outstripping supply,” he said. Mr Morrison was also asked whether he regretted saying the vaccine rollout was “not a race”. “I absolutely think we need to have total urgency on this issue, and that’s what we’ve been applying to it,” he said. “When that was said by both Professor Murphy and I at the time, we were talking about the regulation of vaccines … to ensure the vaccines we were using had gone through the proper processes. “The fact is, we have been moving with urgency … Once they were approved, we’ve been going as fast as we possibly can and getting over the problems we’ve had.”But on ABC Adelaide, Mr Morrison did concede that the vaccination rollout was two months behind “where (he) hoped we would be”.Just shy of one million doses were administered in the past week, with more Pfizer doses arriving this week set to further boost the rollout.Mr Morrison used the example of Singapore, which has a higher vaccination rate than Australia, being back in lockdown. “And in the UK, they’re over 65 per cent (fully vaccinated) and 94 people died yesterday,” he said. “I understand there is great frustration. Believe me, I feel the same. “The Delta variant has thrown a completely new curve ball which every country in the world is dealing with. “We haven’t got this completely right, no country has … But we’ve got a lot of things right too.”

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