Opinion piece by Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia
Around 11 million doses of the COVID 19 vaccine have now been administered.
We are now tracking at around 1 million doses a week.
Sure, we’ve had our problems. Not all the calls we have made have turned out like we had hoped.
In a pandemic no country gets everything right. But having saved more than 30,000 lives, having supported over 3 million Australians through Jobkeeper and getting 1 million Australians back into work, we’ve also got a lot right.
After a difficult start, over recent months we have been turning the vaccination programme around. We’re definitely making up lost ground. Lieutenant General Frewen and his team in the Department of Health are doing a great job getting us back on track.
The program is accelerating even more with the new additional supply we have secured – around one million Pfizer doses now arriving every week.
As more and more Australians get vaccinated, we rob the virus of its potency and power to disrupt our lives.
Getting vaccinated protects you, your family and your community.
Though we are currently responding to the threat of the COVID Delta variant in many parts of Australia, we can be confident that we will emerge from this pandemic successfully as we have done before.
Our record in saving lives and livelihoods is world’s best. We see it clearly from the health and economic data. More than 30,000 lives saved and 1 million jobs restored. Very few countries can claim these results.
However, I understand Australians facing lockdowns are asking immediate questions about their incomes and about the weeks ahead, as well as the pathway back to normal life.
For Australians facing lockdowns, we are directly delivering financial support to individuals and businesses impacted by the lockdowns through Services Australia. And we are sharing costs with state governments delivering much needed support to small and medium sized businesses.
People who have lost more than 20 hours of work in the previous week can claim $600. People who have lost between 8 hours or a full day of work to 20 hours, can claim $375. This is the same level of support we provided with Jobkeeper last year.
For more information about accessing these payments in your language visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au or call the multilingual phone service on 131 202.This is in addition to other help like Medicare telehealth, mental health and child care gap fee relief to help respond to outbreaks when and where they occur.
Importantly, we are also setting out a pathway back to normal life. It is built on a clear premise: if you get vaccinated, we can make lockdowns, border closures and restrictions a thing of the past.
The National Cabinet has agreed to set out a four stage path. Moving from one stage to the next will depend on achieving vaccination targets of the population informed by the best health and economic advice and scientific modelling.
The plan recognises that Australians who get vaccinated pose less of a health risk to themselves and others than people who are not vaccinated, and should therefore face fewer or no restrictions as vaccination rates increase. It’s only fair.
I will be recommending these vaccination targets to Premiers and Chief Ministers in coming weeks so we all know what we are aiming for.
Stage 1 is where we are at now – suppressing the virus and offering every Australian an opportunity to be vaccinated, while we trial new ways to ease restrictions, like home quarantine.
Stage 2 is where have enough confidence in the vaccine take-up to shift our current focus on COVID case numbers to the numbers of people with serious illnesses, hospitalisations and fatalities.
This change means we will be able to ease restrictions for vaccinated residents.
In this stage, lockdowns will only be in extreme circumstances to prevent escalating hospitalisations and fatalities, not a few cases.
In Stage 3 we will be managing COVID-19 consistent with public health management of other infectious diseases, like the flu.
In this stage, we will see the complete end of lock downs and a continued easing of the border controls that have protected us for so long, so Australians can travel overseas again and we can lift restrictions at our airports.
Stage 4 is the final phase, the return of normal life.
In this stage, there will still be modest, but prudent controls at our borders, because the virus will never be eliminated. But for the most part COVID will be managed just like any other infectious disease.
Over the past 18 months, I have asked a great deal of Australians, and there is still a way to go – and we can all play our part in the weeks and months ahead.
During the COVID Pandemic we have not got everything right. But we have done better than almost every country in the world.
We now have to finish the job of getting our country vaccinated.
What we all have to do is clear: follow the public health advice; maintain social distancing; be COVID safe; and if you haven’t already done so, make your appointment to get vaccinated.
To find out if you can get a COVID-19 vaccination now and to find out where and book an appointment in your language visit https://covid-vaccine.