The Australian leader hailed his government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sidelines of a multilateral Pacific security summit in Washington, DC. “Sadly, here in the US more lives have been lost in one day than we’ve had over our entire experience in the pandemic… But we’ve also got to give people their lives back,” he said in an interview with Channel Seven.
Australia has had some of the strongest anti-coronavirus measures in place and has been aggressively enforcing them. A boiling frustration with the lockdowns was highlighted this week by violent protests in Melbourne. They were spearheaded by construction workers, who were ordered to suspend all work without pay after the Victoria government reported wide-scale violations of health guidelines in the industry. The protests were generally dismissed by Australian officials as the actions of a small radical minority venting their anger.
Speaking to the Weekend Sunrise program, Morrison offered a vision of a Christmas without the worst of the restrictions, including the ban to cross interstate borders in Australia.
“Once you go to 80% of your population that is vaccinated, I can’t see any reason why Australians should be kept from each other,” he said, challenging provincial governments to deliver on their part. He said within weeks there will be enough vaccine doses in Australia to jab everyone who wants it.
His message to Australians, the PM said, is that what he would “like them to have for Christmas is their lives back; and that’s within the gift of governments and that’s a gift I’d like to see us give them.”
Even if lockdowns are lifted, he warned, some “sensible” restrictions will remain, like “QR-code logins and all that sort of staff, wearing masks, perhaps occasionally in particular settings.”
Anthony Albanese, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, blasted the PM, saying he had no credibility whatsoever since he had already promised Australia a normal Christmas last year, but failed to deliver. “If Scott Morrison had ordered enough vaccines and built a national quarantine, everyone would be home and vaccinated by now,” he tweeted. Several fellow Labor members voiced similar criticisms.