The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
2 September 2021
Topics: vaccination rollout; national plan for COVID response
Good afternoon everybody. I’m joined by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, to provide an update.
It’s an important milestone today. Australians have stepped forward for 20 million doses, 20 million vaccinations, 20 million additional points of hope and light for Australia, and I want to thank every Australian who has come forward so far.
In the last 24 hours, that’s over 330,000 vaccinations. And in addition to the 20 million, there are other important milestones. More than 60 per cent of Australians 16 plus have now had a first dose. 60.5 per cent have had a first dose. 36.4 per cent have had a second dose.
And very importantly, amongst our over 50s, we are on the cusp of having 80 per cent of our over 50s having had a first dose. Remembering that goal of 80 per cent to see that we’re on the cusp of almost having got there, we’ll do that today.
With 80 per cent of over 50s is very significant. 84 per cent of over 60s, 88 per cent of over 70s. Our most vulnerable have our highest rates of protection. They are the first in line and that’s been fundamentally important.
In relation to our first doses, we’re at 12.48 million, so almost 12.5 million. And approximately two million doses to go to achieve 70 per cent for the whole country and four million doses to achieve 80 per cent for the whole country.
New South Wales, our largest state by population, has now achieved a 70 per cent first dose rate. So those figures tell us we’re not just on the way, but we are making real and significant progress and each one of those vaccinations is a protection now and a protection for others now. It’s also a significant individual step towards achieving the goals and targets of the national plan.
Finally, I do want to acknowledge we’ve now passed 32 million tests. We’re testing at over 200,000 a day on weekdays, and indeed, that’s been achieved on weekends as well.
I’d note, I’ve already put out the release. We’ve extended, in what is not a surprise to anybody, the biosecurity determination. That’s been extended to December 17 in line with the medical advice. And that, in particular, covers the pre-flight testing and masks for overseas arrivals and the existing restrictions being extended for cruise vessels, outbound travel, and retail outlets at international terminals.
The other thing that I want to make reference to is the national plan and some of the comments, and in particular, I’ll ask Professor Kelly to add data and detail on this. But the national plan in relation to children.
Children are fundamental to our protection. The entire national plan is about protecting all Australians but it is predicated on protecting children. And so there have been some comments that they were not considered. This is false.
And I want to express, clear and precise. And indeed, there have been comments about vaccinating under 12s. There have been no vaccinations that have been approved and no national programs of which we are aware that have commenced anywhere in the world. And following that medical advice is absolutely, is absolutely fundamental.
In fact, I think the best response, in a way, is what has been written by Queensland Health in their Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service COVID-19 and Kids: What you need to know document dated the 5th of August 2021, and I quote: “serious illness remains extremely rare in children”. I also quote “even children with serious underlying conditions will mostly only experience a mild illness with COVID-19”. And I also quote “the single most effective tool available to prevent infection in children is to reduce infection in adults”.
Countries around the world have demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccination in achieving this. And so I think it is very important that we are responsible, that we provide facts, and that we provide confidence to Australian parents that the national plan is about protecting each and every Australian.
Thank you, Minister. And so I also want to address some of the commentary that’s around at the moment in relation to the matters the Minister has also addressed.
Firstly, we have a new strain of the virus. That is not news. That has been around for a while. We have joined the rest of the world in battling Delta. The Delta variant of this virus is different to the one we’ve seen previously.
But there are some very clear and understandable things about that difference. One is, it is more transmissible. It’s more transmissible between all people, whether they’re adults or children. And so children do transmit the virus.
It is not more severe. There is very little evidence anywhere in the world that severity has increased. We are seeing severe cases of Delta and we’re seeing those right now in Australia, particularly in New South Wales, but that is an element of the numbers of cases that are out there in the community, not the virus itself.
And we know from that severity issue, it’s mostly affecting people currently that are unvaccinated. The third thing we know about this virus is that the vaccines that we have are effective at preventing serious illness from Delta, just as they are with the other types of the virus that we’ve seen previously.
And so, our message today, as we always have at all of these press conferences, is get vaccinated. Vaccine is the game-changer here. It does change the way that we can face this virus into the future.
What do we know about Delta and children? And the Minister has already mentioned what we know about that. Children, in general, do not get severe illness. And I will give you some absolute data from as recently as last night’s look at our National Notifiable Diseases data.
There have been cases in children. This has particularly been in New South Wales, but also in Victoria and here in the ACT over the last few weeks. There have, in fact, been, since the 1st of January this year until last night, there have been 3,815 cases of Delta virus infection in children under the age of 12.
But let’s look behind those data and look at the severity of illness. There have been 134 hospitalisations, that’s 3.5 per cent hospitalisation rate. And we know from particularly New South Wales data that most of the kids that have been admitted to hospital have been for social reasons, not because they are particularly unwell.
Their parents are sick and can’t look after them, a whole range of elements we won’t go into. So that hospitalisation rate is small and most of those are not because of severe illness.
There have only been three children under the age of 12 that have been admitted to intensive care. Three out of 3,815. That is way less than 1 in 1,000. So whilst cases have been about 17 per cent of the total cases we’ve seen notified this year, that hospitalisation rate and the ICU rate in particular and the fact that there’ve been no deaths in under 12s is very different to what we’re seeing in adults and even in older children.
So overall, the hospitalisation rate is 10.5 per cent. Overall, the rate of admission to intensive care is 1.7 per cent, compared with one in 1,000. And the death rate is just under 0.5 per cent.
So, the disease in children is very different from what we’re seeing in adults and as the Minister has said, we’re not ignoring children. Children are of course part of the whole plan, not only in the vaccination and soon the vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds, but also in the way we’re looking at that cocooning effect that we can get from vaccination as it increases, and it is increasing incredibly rapidly now, right across Australia.
So, the more people that we vaccinate and the higher that vaccination rate in that wider community, it decreases transmission in the community. It protects children. The more parents that are vaccinated, and from earlier this week, we now have Pfizer available throughout the age range from 16 up, that would include all parents.
And my clear message today is if you are a parent, particularly a parent of a younger child, get vaccinated. This is the way you can protect yourself and protect your children.
Minister, on the aged care jabs becoming mandatory, are you concerned about aged care workers leaving the workforce once that deadline is met? And what are your plans to addressing workforce shortages that creates?
No, I’m confident that we’ll see very, very high rates of aged care workers. It’s increased again to 83.4 per cent.
So what we’ve been seeing is between 11,000 and 20,000 vaccinations a week, it did, sadly, require the mandating, but that has had the effect. And we have an outreach program now. We have an in reach program now, so we’re seeing very high rates. We’re expecting that that will continue.
All the advice from the sector is they are not expecting workforce shortages. Jade?
On that issue in particular, are any particular states leading the charge and do you have some vaccination rates?
Well, the national rate is 83.4 per cent for workers, and 62 per cent for the second doses. Obviously at the moment, the focus is on the first doses.
And that combines with an aged care resident rate of 89 per cent, or to be precise, I think 89.1 per cent. So those two things are providing very, very high protection.
I think, Paul, it was the UK advisory group, SAGE, which said that an 80 per cent rate in aged care for workers provided significant and fundamental coverage for the residents. But those two things together are what have made the difference within New South Wales.
Were any states leading the charge on that?
Look, I think all states and territories are doing very, very well. We’re seeing good rates in Victoria and in New South Wales.
There are a couple of states, I think in particular Western Australia, where we’re hoping that they’ll be able to lift those. But the workforce plan is actually seeing quite a transformation.
I know some of the states, in fact, Paul will know better than me, all the states and territories are talking about the potential for mandating in hospitals based on the success of the program in aged care. Katherine?
Minister, can I just be clear, with the policing of the mandate, the mandate is given effect under state health orders, not under the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act?
So who is responsible for policing the mandate? Is it the states or the Commonwealth?
And just one more on the same subject if I may, are you concerned, because obviously there will end up being a percentage of that workforce that will not want to be vaccinated or refuse to be vaccinated.
Are you concerned that some of those people will end up in home care where the mandate doesn’t apply or in disability care, again, where a mandate doesn’t apply?
Sure. So we’re actually seeing very significant increases on all of those fronts.
In terms of the observation, the Commonwealth is working with all of the states and territories, and we have undertaken to ensure that we work with all of the aged care facilities at the Commonwealth level to do that, and to ensure that there’s a transition plan.
One of the things which General Frewen is doing is working with the sector to make sure, as we boost the rates to levels that virtually nobody thought were possible with a program that’s still well under way, as we boost those rates, we will also take into account those with medical exemptions.
They have not been deducted at this point. So there’s a significant number that are likely to have medical exemptions. And so in that situation, you’ll see the medical exemptions taken off, the rates continue.
I have one example that was given to me last night, a very major provider in Western Australia, they were expecting 15 out of over 2,300 workers who may ultimately decline. Claire?
Professor Kelly, this morning Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted that from six months past 70 per cent of the country being vaccinated, 80 people would die a day, working out to more than 2000 a month.
Will you caution her against promoting false stats like that where she has extrapolated data beyond what is actually present in the Doherty modelling? How damaging is that kind of commentary when it isn’t founded in science?
And if I could, Minister Hunt, is it fair to say that our compassionate access system to go between states is broken if a three-year-old boy isn’t allowed to go home to his parents when he’s in New South Wales and Queensland reject an application for him to cross the border?
Sure. Look, I might start first. I don’t want to put Paul in a position where he has to be cautioning Premiers. I think that’s our job, but he’ll certainly speak to the science of it.
In terms of compassion, we know that League players and their partners have been allowed into Queensland. The fact that beautiful young children or patients with cancer are being denied entry for reuniting with their families or being treated is, I think, a profound moral failure.
This is a profound moral failure. Let these people in for medical treatment and for a three-year-old to be fully reunited with their family.
In terms of the information, I won’t go directly to the comments from the Premier.
But we need to start to learn to live with this virus. We’ve been saying that for a while now, but this is actually the time we need to be starting to learn to live with this virus. Within a few weeks where we’ll have almost all, if not all states at that 70 per cent first dose of vaccination, we have a national plan that everyone has signed up to.
It’s based on the Doherty modelling that shows that every percentage we get above 70 per cent coverage of vaccination changes things. It changes the way that the virus is transmitted between people and spread around society. It changes the nature of the severity of the illness. And so we need to start balancing those things.
Of course – and no-one has ever denied this, and I certainly haven’t – there will be people that die from COVID. There are people that have died from COVID so far in this pandemic and it’s a terrible thing. But we need to start recognising that that’s the case, particularly for unvaccinated people.
And so there will be deaths, there will be people admitted to hospital, and we have very good and strong plans of dealing with hospitalisations and ICU rates.
I’ll just add to that. Selectively misusing the Doherty modelling breaches good faith and damages public confidence.
Josh? And then I’ll come to the front.
On both those things, as well actually, I mean we’ve talked about, the Prime Minister has talked a lot about the home quarantine trials in South Australia, for instance, we’ve known that quarantines are going to change as we move on.
Like is there a case for, in these compassionate cases, like with the young boy, like with the cancer patients? You talk about some sort of alternate quarantine measure, for instance, like a home quarantine or something like that?
But also on the modelling, this is the modelling that underpins us reopening the country and it underpins how much risk we’re going to have, how much, how many cases there’ll be, and to underpin public confidence in the plan, is there not some case for laying this out in a far simpler manner so people, the regular person, can understand this modelling that is incredibly complex?
Sure. So firstly, in terms of home quarantine, we’re used to home quarantine. That’s something that has been part and parcel of return across borders for many states and territories. It’s a system which has functioned extraordinarily well. It’s exceptionally important in these cases of deep human compassion.
It’s a pathway. It’s available. Australians have been remarkably good at observing it. I’ve been through four weeks of it. I’m about to go into another two weeks of it. And I see that Australians have been incredibly responsible. My message on that is believe in Australians.
Minister, on the Doherty modelling, National Cabinet is going to get a bit of an update from Doherty tomorrow. Can you or Professor Kelly give us an idea as to what that update will have?
And also, Professor Brendan Murphy asked ICU experts for an update on hospital capacity. New South Wales is reaching a thousand patients in hospital. What is our hospital capacity like? Do we have that report yet? Are we going to be able to cope?
Sure. So two things there. I respectfully won’t pre-empt the Doherty’s own work, other than to say that they’ve continued to provide their briefings that the 70 and 80 per cent marks are the appropriate national thresholds.
And of course, it’s the measures that you take as you step down that are tailored to the circumstances.
But is it going to address the Queensland’s concerns about children, or is it going to look at the more of a regional approach?
I think what you’ll find is that Doherty modelling was always predicated on a whole of population assessment. The claim that children were not considered was false, wrong, and inaccurate.
In terms of the hospitals, and I’ll let Paul speak to this in particular, this is part of the continuous review process. This process started in February last year. And what we did is we built a hospital capacity of 7500 ventilated beds around the country. We’ve provided $6 billion in Commonwealth funding. We’ve also put in place a private hospitals liability guarantee.
And that’s not just about the viability, it’s actually about the partnership between the public hospitals and the private hospitals. And so in particular, it brings 57,000 nurses, over 30,000 beds, over 100,000 staff all up into that partnership, so to provide a massive surge capacity.
And I’d just refer you to the very strong quotes from Premier Berejiklian in the last few days, where she has pointed out that they’ve been planning, preparing for 18 months to boost and create strong ICU capacity.
Yeah. So, there’s been commentary about this. Of course, the issues we’re talking about in terms of hospitalisations and ICU admissions in particular are an important part of our planning, have been an important part of our planning since January of last year.
And so, the Minister has mentioned the number of beds that we have planned to surge to. We’ve still got 4000 invasive ventilators in our national medical stockpile, as well as other treatments and so on.
There’s an issue of workforce. We need to work through that. And we did last year and provided training to extra nurses at that time with an idea we would have had to surge last year. In the end, we didn’t actually need that so much.
Now is the time where we need to revisit that. And we are. There’ll be a report going off a, something led by Brendan Murphy tomorrow to National Cabinet to talk through those matters.
Professor Kelly, can we just have a quick technical clarifying question? With the Pfizer doses, does the purchase and that quantity that we’ve received assume five or six doses per vial?
Where the six doses can be extracted per vial, are they included in the broad total or are they additional? And are those clinical doses, if they are there, offset any wastage elsewhere in your figures?
So firstly, on wastage, it’s been incredibly low right throughout. You’ll remember the number of times we’ve talked about how different the logistics of Pfizer in particular was and that ultra-low temperature and so forth it needed to be kept out.
So, the wastage of this program has been incredibly low compared with other countries in relation to this and other vaccines that we rollout every year.
In terms of the five or six thing, that was sorted out months ago; it’s six.
Minister Hunt, can I just get you to respond to Queensland’s suggestion and WA’s suggestion that the Government yesterday, they were suggesting that the Government, the Federal Government might want the virus to come to their states.
You’ve spoken about public confidence. What impact is this having on the shadow pandemic, do you think? This sort of rhetoric where we’re seeing states maintaining this hard line border?
We want to save every life we can. We’re desperate to save every life, to protect every person. One of our deep and profound duties, though, is to be honest about the fact that the pandemic has become endemic.
I’ve spoken with various colleagues in late night calls from around the world over the last week, and every one of them has been clear that the pandemic is endemic, that it’s here to stay. It has embedded itself around the world.
So, against that background, it’s absolutely critical to be open and honest. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re simply being open and honest with the Australian public, that no one is immune.
We’ve seen stories of people travelling across borders, whether it’s trucks or elsewhere, so long as there is human interaction in any way, shape or form. A truck, a plane, the arrival of goods by sea, that risk of incursion is not just real, but it’s inevitable.
And so, when it’s inevitable, the fundamental thing to do is to drive those vaccination rates up, but also to prepare so as people know how to live COVID safely.
Minister, there are Australians stuck in the South Island of New Zealand, where there are currently zero COVID cases. They’re being told by the Government that they’re not allowed to fly home. They’re willing to do a hotel quarantine, but they still can’t book a flight home.
Do you know about these people and why they’re not allowed to come back?
Look, I’ll respectfully refer that one to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
You’ve obviously come out here armed today with a lot of information and data surrounding children, especially under 12. Is it your understanding that parents have been put on edge by the comments coming out of Queensland? You know, do you think they were scaremongering tactics and do you think they were successful?
And also, just separately, Ivermectin seeing orders increasing. A man presenting to hospital with what seems to have been an overdose. Can you just explain Australia’s position on Ivermectin? Has it been ruled out, is it even being considered?
So firstly, on Ivermectin, we’ve had many questions about that in the past. The reality is there are many trials that have been done in Ivermectin. Not a single one of them have shown them to be effective.
Now, in the future, maybe that will change. We’ve learnt to be nimble in terms of our appraisal of the scientific evidence right throughout this pandemic. But absolutely and categorically, please do not take unproven medicines at this time.
As you’ve mentioned, there was an unfortunate case of someone who did do that and overdosed on this particular drug, has been admitted to hospital because of the effects of that overdose. It is ineffective and not safe.
So please use the advice from regular authorities, and that’s the state and territory and the Commonwealth Health Department.
So, I think, probably the best thing for me to do is to quote Professor Robert Booy, who’s one of Australia’s leading infectious disease paediatricians, the University of Sydney and he was quoted in The Courier Mail this morning.
Professor Booy who described himself as a devout Queenslander, said he was appalled by the Queensland position.
Quote, if I thought young children needed urgent vaccination, I would say so. And he has been a fearless commentator long before COVID, right throughout my time as Health Minister. He then went on to say, keeping borders shut because of the children is not a sensible measure. This is one of the leading infectious disease paediatricians, not just in Australia, but arguably one of the world’s leading paediatricians. He said young children would not be vaccinated until next year at the earliest and Ms Palaszczuk did not need to wait for new modelling.
Those are the quotes of one of not just Australia’s, but one of the world’s leading infectious disease paediatric experts.
Professor Kelly, just to further probe those numbers that you gave us before. You said 134 kids have been put into hospital beds, most of them for social reasons. Can you tell us how many for social reasons?
And Minister Hunt, you’ve been, the Government’s been writing to the over-60s who haven’t been vaxxed. Have you worked out why they’re not, haven’t taken a dose? Hesitancy, waiting for Pfizer or whatever?
Have you thought of asking GPs perhaps offering some money to as an incentive to get them to vax patients that they know are not vaccinated?
You go first, Paul.
So, in terms of the numbers, I don’t have the exact number for you, Andrew. Sorry about that. But the NCIRS, I’m actually, Professor Booy is part of that research institute in New South Wales, has looked into this in some detail.
So, if you were looking for actual numbers, you could probably refer that question to them.
And the answer is yes. GPs receive approximately 65 dollars for every double dose vaccination they provide to a resident. They’ve done an amazing job. It’s our GPs that have done the vast bulk of vaccinations generally. But in particular, they have provided the vast bulk of vaccinations for the over-60s.
And every day we’re seeing those numbers continue to increase, increase in the over-60s by 0.3, 0.4 per cent on a daily basis. And we’re now at 84 per cent for over-60s; 88 per cent for over-70s.
This one is for the unvaccinated; this is why you’re sending out letters. What are you doing?
Sounds like a headline.
You know, go for it.
We’re reaching out in multiple ways. Our general practice is the frontline, contacting over-60s ourselves through local campaigns, all of these things, it’s actually working.
To think of it this way, almost 80 per cent in the next 24 hours of over-50s vaccinated 84 per cent of over-60s, 88 per cent of over-70s. These are phenomenal rates, but we’re just going to keep driving because we want every single person, unless they’ve got a medical reason not to be vaccinated, to come forward. So, we’ll keep going on that front.
Mr Hunt, when do you expect, do you expect that under-12s will be one day directly involved in the vaccination program? And what sort of timeframe are we looking at to consider that?
And secondly, given what’s happening out of Western Australia and Queensland, do you concede that the national plan, the four-stage place, is under considerable doubt?
No. Look, I understand there’s debate. Federation has been with us throughout the life of our nation and debate and federation are exactly the same thing; they’re part of it. What we actually see is that we are heading towards a nation that will progressively open up.
Those 80 per cent marks, I think it will be very, very hard for anybody to be separating, as we heard with the case of this beautiful three-year-old or cancer patients or separating grandparents from children for weddings, for funerals, for the great events of life, for births.
Those deepest, most profound of human engagements, as well as all of the elements of commerce, of making sure that the contract harvesters are there for the wheat yields and for the wheat crops in Western Australia and people who are picking fruit, the seasonal workers, all of these things that make up the nation, they will provide the inevitable pressures that mean ultimately, ultimately, we will be able to move again as a country.
And I understand that there will be debate along the way. But we have the strong support of the nation for the partnership that was agreed between the premiers and chief ministers and the Australian people and their own residents that we work towards this national plan.
So there are clinical trials happening at the moment with both Pfizer and Moderna, we’re aware of, perhaps others. Those are continuing.
There is no one anywhere in the world that has a programme for under twelves as part of their programmes. But the clinical trials will be ongoing, and as we always do, we look at that and we follow what’s happening in other regulators around the world.
And once that, if we get to that point where it’s safe, effective and high quality, we’ll move on that.
We know that you’ve got a report on the hospital system coming tomorrow, and we know that you’ve been doing a lot of work over the past 18 months on the hospital system.
Notwithstanding that, the AMA has sent to the Prime Minister today a very, very strong letter suggesting that the hospital system is not in a state to cope with what we’re going to see if this third wave goes on, and that even with the vaccination levels of 70 to 80 per cent, it mightn’t be able to cope, it might need higher levels.
What is your response to the AMA, which has been incredibly supportive of you through most of this pandemic?
Look, I respect the views. They have said throughout the tenure of every health minister that they would always seek additional funding for hospitals. We’ve done that.
Funding has gone from $13 billion a year, when we came to government, to $26 billion, $27 billion, $28 billion and $30 billion a year over the course of the forward estimates. Specifically in relation to the pandemic, we’ve put $6 billion into support for the public hospital system.
We’ve created the private hospitals viability guarantee, which is about that national partnership to bring 30,000 beds, 57,000 nurses, over 100,000 workers into the system. We’ve also put in place the increase from 2000 to 7500 ventilated bed capacity.
As well as put in place the testing, which I say is passed now 32 million. So I respect the views. But what we have done.
So you’re saying this is wrong, they’re just making a bid for more money. Their warning is wrong.
What we are saying is that there has been an incredible partnership.
I think there is a particular West Australian focus, which I respect and understand. I note this week that the issue around ramping in WA was given very high prominence.
We have quadrupled our funding to Western Australia since coming to, sorry, our rate of increase is quadruple that of the state’s increase. We’ve increased by 72 percent. WA has increased by 18 per cent its own hospital funding.
So I think that that probably has a significant influence.
Well, New South Wales is pretty bad in the hospitals.
Oh, I think that the New South Wales has done an extraordinary job. For us, what we’ve done with New South Wales, we’re putting in at 1.1 billion in terms of what we’ve already invested into their hospital system during COVID, for COVID. Another 1.4 billion is expected.
And Premier Berejiklian has been very strong, as has Kerry Chant, the Chief Health Officer, in their comments on their preparation over the last 18 months.
The question about the COVIDSafe app, you were handed a report six months ago which showed the app was not offering contact tracers assistance.
Now, given the Doherty Institute talks about the reliance on effective TTIQ, and you’ve acknowledged that the app is an important tool in our response, will the government consider plans to use the UK’s app approach, which automatically notifies you if you come into contact with somebody with the virus? And if not, why not?
No plans to make that change. We’ll continue to follow the medical advice on that.
Dr Kelly, the Queensland Premier, amidst her claims, said that 2240 people will die a month if the nation opens up at 70 per cent. The fact that she’s the premier does amplify that message.
As an apolitical medical voice, can you provide Australians any reassurance that we’re not looking at fatality rates of that amount if the nation sticks to the national plan?
So I’m not going to address- thank you. I’m not going to address the Premier’s comments directly. What I can say is what we said before, that there is the modelling that has been done at a national basis by Doherty as their first pass.
Tomorrow there’ll be some sensitivity analysis around that original modelling, which at the request of national cabinet, looking at the what we’re actually seeing on the ground in New South Wales, for example, starting at a higher base of cases. So that will be presented tomorrow.
But the Doherty has a whole series of other work that they are embarked on at the moment. And one of those is particularly looking at local area, smaller area outbreak responses and so on. And so that’s actually going to give us more information and detail into the future.
I’m not going to speculate on the number.
She’s come up with this very large number. Is it accurate or not? Because it’s the suggestion from others is it’s not accurate.
I might address this. If that’s okay. To be fair.
It’s a matter of fact, not a matter of political judgment.
Correct. And the operative phrase from the Doherty Institute statement of the 23st of August. So this was put out by them when similar comments were made only a week ago.
The operative phrase, with optimal public health measures and no lockdown’s, this can be significantly reduced to 2737 infections and 13 deaths.
So unfortunately, there was a very selective misuse of the Doherty report, which undermines public confidence. Sarah?
Just on the Doherty report, there isn’t actually mentioned in it of the phrase state borders. It’s not mentioned in the Doherty report. So how is that- with the debate going on with state borders that assertion that it’s safe for a state to open up that has no COVID to a state that has COVID, how is that supported?
And regarding Colin Barnett’s comments today, he said if he was the premier, he would rely on a magistrate or magistrates court to determine compassionate cases. As we’ve seen, that’s failed when it’s up to just premiers. Do you think using magistrates and the courts is a way to make sure those compassionate cases are more fairly seen to?
Well on the compassionate cases, this is something that is our job and our role as national leaders and state leaders. We’re elected to provide a balance of judgement, and that balance of judgement, we have to exercise every day. And there is a place and a role for exercising compassion. There always is.
And we know we’ve been able to do this because we’ve been able to do these compassionate cases on a safe way consistently throughout the course of the pandemic. And whether that’s international compassionate arrivals or whether that’s trans-border arrivals.
And sometimes, it does take the glare of the public light, and I do thank you for those questions. It’s not just the three-year-old. It’s not just the patient suffering from cancer. There are other compassionate cases, and we sort many of these quietly and under the radar. And we seek to do that and Paul and his team of agents would do that.
I have one last and then I better go. Thank you.
Back on the hunt for the unvaccinated. Do you know where most of those over-60 that you’re targeting in that letter are? Like, which states? Or do not have that information?
So the rates of over-60s are published each day with the jurisdictional data. So it’s across the country. And what we see is that those numbers are growing, as we say, over-80 per cent, 84 per cent of over-60s are already vaccinated.
But we’ll keep working with them because- and this is where I do respectfully have to finish. Every vaccination can protect somebody’s life. Each vaccination can protect your life and protect everybody else’s life.
At 20 million doses, Australians have stepped forward in record numbers, but they’re continuing to do it. Please keep coming forward. Every vaccination protects you, protect your child, protects grandma, protects grandpa, and protects every other Australian.
Thank you very much.