PM’s chilling warning on COVID-19
The Prime Minister has issued a chilling warning that even with the COVID-19 vaccine there must be "no let up" in international border controls and quarantine over the coming year.
Outlining a new blueprint to suppress the virus and deliver the vaccine, the Prime Minister will pledge another $1.9 billion in new spending today to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.
In one of the largest logistics exercises ever seen in Australia's history - he will pledge to vaccinate 26 million people, having secured over 140 million doses, enough to cover the Australian population several times over.
But in a chilling warning, the PM will also warn the virus isn't going anywhere and there is "still so much more to do".
"The pandemic is still raging. It is not petering out. The virus has not gone anywhere. Indeed, it is morphing into new and more virulent strains,'' he said.
"Our 2020 achievements have bought valuable time on vaccines, to ensure they are safe and can be effectively rolled out across our population.
"But even with the roll out of the vaccine, there can be no let-up in the three vital suppression measures that served Australia well in 2020 and must be the focus of continuous improvement in 2021.
"Our international border restrictions and robust quarantine system. Our high rates of testing, our contact tracing systems and our management of outbreaks in hot spots.
"And physical distancing and sound hygiene practices."
The Prime Minister will outline five priority areas including suppressing the virus and delivering the vaccine cementing our economic recovery to create jobs, guaranteeing the essential services that Australians rely on, protecting Australia's interests in a challenging world, and caring for our country.
On the vaccine rollout, Mr Morrison said the government had "wisely planned for the unexpected" as concerns emerged over European export controls.
"That is why we took out the insurance of securing our own sovereign supply of vaccines, by investing in COVID-19 vaccine production here in Australia,'' the Prime Minister said.
"Australia is one of a small number of countries to have sovereign vaccine manufacturing capacity. Subject to TGA approval, we expect to be able to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the entire Australian population through CSL's manufacturing plant in Melbourne."
The aim remains to get the majority of the population vaccinated by October 2021, commencing in just a few weeks' time.
"Our guidance is that first vaccinations remain on track to be in Australia, ready for distribution to priority groups, from late February,'' the PM said.
"However the final commencement date will depend on developments overseas, which we will continue to monitor and update accordingly.
"We'll have thousands of points of presence across Australia - Hospitals, GPs, Pharmacies, Respiratory Clinics, Aboriginal Health Services and a specialist surge workforce. This will ensure we get the vaccine to all Australians, including people in rural, remote and very remote areas and others who are hard to reach."
"We want as many Australians vaccinated as quickly as possible. The COVID-19 vaccines will be made free to all Australians and we strongly encourage all Australians to get vaccinated."
Arguing that Australia has a lot to be thankful for compared to the rest of the world, he will also warn that the era of big spending on welfare measures such as JobKeeper is coming to a close.
"As Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics observed earlier this month, 'You'd rather be here than almost anywhere else','' Mr Morrison said.
But with more than 90 per cent of people who lost jobs lost during the pandemic now returning to work according to the government, the Prime Minister will argue now is not the time to keep running up more debt.
"You can't run the Australian economy on taxpayers' money forever,'' the PM will tell the National Press Club on Monday.
"With more than 90 per cent of the jobs lost already back, our comeback has not only begun, it is gathering pace.
"And a response where emergency measures are temporary and accompanied by a clear fiscal exit strategy."
While low interest rates are alleviating debt service pressures now, it won't be that way forever.
"We are not running a blank cheque budget,'' Mr Morrison said.
"While our medium-term strategy remains to stabilise and reduce debt, low interest rates are alleviating debt servicing pressures as lower rates not only apply to new issuances but our pre-existing debt as it rolls over.
"We know that our temporary JobKeeper payments and our many other supports have helped to boost families and businesses balance sheets by more than $200 billion. They have been the game changer for millions of Australians.
The Prime Minister said the comeback in Australia's economy is already underway and betters the experience of most advanced economy nations in the world.
"In 2020, I said we would not let this virus break our Australian spirit,'' he said.
"It hasn't, and it won't."
Originally published as PM's chilling warning on COVID-19