Scott Morrison has steered away from any debate on WA imposing a hard border with Victoria, despite preferring a hotspot approach to fighting the virus.
Reacting to WA and South Australia closing their borders with Victoria, the Prime Minister said travel restrictions were decisions for State and Territory governments.
“That has always been the case and there’s no change there,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is a Federation.
“The States have their authorities and their powers and they will make decisions as they see them in the best interests and in the health interests of their State and Territory.”
Mr Morrison backed the Victorian Government’s decision to impose a “circuit-breaking” seven-day lockdown but hopes stay at home orders will not be needed for long.
He said the lockdown was important to stop the spread of COVID-19 not only in Victoria but across the country.
“The next seven days in Victoria will be very challenging … I am very mindful of the distress and difficulty this will impose,” he said.
Mr Morrison said the lockdown had “rightly” been described as a circuit breaker by Acting Premier James Merlino.
“A circuit-breaking lockdown and a lockdown for seven days that hopefully won’t go as long as that,” he said.
An additional 130,000 vaccine doses are being shipped to Victoria and Mr Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt encouraged those eligible for the jab not to delay rolling up their sleeves.
Mr Hunt also announced that the Federal Government was now looking to add an additional 900 GP practices to the network of vaccination locations and that $2.6 million in funding would be allocated to supporting the mental health of doctors and health professionals across the nation.
Australian Medical Association president Omar Korshid said the lockdown should serve as a “wake-up call” to Australians to get vaccinated and not wait.
Mr Morrison denied that Victoria would be better off if more people had been vaccinated, pointing to the experience of countries such as Canada and Singapore with higher vaccination rates but ongoing outbreaks.
Mr Hunt said residents at 592 of Victoria’s 598 aged-care facilities had been vaccinated already, with seven slated to be inoculated today and the remaining one tomorrow.
Nationwide, first jabs have been delivered at 97 per cent of nursing homes.
Mr Hunt said about a millions doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were being produced in Australia each week — although it would dip slightly for a fortnight while “line maintenance” was completed on the Victorian plant.
About 350,000 Pfizers doses are also arriving in the country each week, increasing to 600,000 for the September quarter, then up to two million weekly.
Mr Hunt said with that 2.7 million doses on hand, there vaccine was available to anyone who wanted it.