Scott Morrison – Prime Minister Scott Morrison says timeline on vaccines and international travel is not certain
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not saying when all Australians will be vaccinated or when international borders will open again, 24 hours after his Treasurer handed down the government’s pandemic budget.
- Scott Morrison said vaccine rollout predictions could be out by “many months” either way
- He said he could not guarantee Australians would be able to travel overseas without quarantine next year
- The budget assumes borders will stay closed until the middle of 2022
Speaking to Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30, Mr Morrison said Tuesday’s federal budget was not dependent on the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
“There is a general assumption [in the budget] of a vaccination program [which is] likely to be in place by the end of this year,” Mr Morrison said.
“That will not have a material impact on what’s in this budget, and it would be a mistake to think it did.”
The government had initially set a target of delivering a first dose to anyone in Australia that wanted it by the end of October.
But Australia’s vaccine rollout has been hampered by supply issues and by concerns over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the under-50s.
The budget includes $1.9 billion for Australia’s vaccination strategy over five years but does not set any firm targets.
Under questioning from Labor in Parliament earlier on Wednesday, Mr Morrison did not say when all Australians would be immunised by either.
“That [the budget assumption] is not a policy statement nor is it a policy commitment,” he said.
The budget assumes borders will remain closed until the middle of 2022, aside from certain exemptions.
A “gradual return of temporary and permanent migrants” is expected from mid-2022, with the potential for international students to travel sooner.
The budget also left the door open for more bubble arrangements like the one Australia shares with New Zealand, but said quarantine caps would operate “with the exception of passengers from safe travel zones”.
Mr Morrison said he could not guarantee Australians would be able to return home without quarantine after 2022.
“It’s impossible for me to make those sorts of predictions in the middle of a global pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years,” he said.
“I can fully understand why people want greater certainty, but I can only provide the certainty that’s available.”