Scott Morrison has been accused of spreading the “political risk” after he announced that national cabinet would now be held twice a week to address problems plaguing the vaccine rollout.
The Prime Minister has returned national cabinet to “war footing” after experts no longer recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine be administered to Aussies aged under 50.
But Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles on Wednesday said the government had “botched” the immunisation program and needed to explain the plan to get more vaccines into the country.
“What he (Morrison) is doing here is trying to spread responsibility, spread political risk, point fingers in different directions, pretend it’s not all about him,” Mr Marles told ABC Breakfast.
“This is a moment where we actually need to see the Prime Minister stand up.
“I don’t think talking to state premiers is going to see us procure more of the vaccine.”
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From Monday, national cabinet will meet twice a week for the foreseeable future until more Australians can be vaccinated “safely and more quickly”.
“There are serious challenges we need to overcome caused by patchy international vaccine supplies, changing medical advice and a global environment of need caused by millions of COVID-19 cases and deaths,” Mr Morrison said.
“There are issues we are trying to deal with as a federal government.
“But among the states and territories, they are also tackling their own unique issues and, working together, we are all going to be in a better position to find the best solutions.”
But Mr Marles said the government was complacent last year and didn’t spread its risk.
He said he would still get the AstraZeneca vaccine because he was aged over 50.
The federal government last week announced that it had doubled its supply of Pfizer vaccines to 40 million in the wake of the new advice about AstraZeneca.
But Australians will have to wait months for the vials, which are expected to arrive between October to December.
Novavax – which Australia also has a vaccine supply deal with – is undergoing clinical trials; however, its data is not expected until June.
“We’re going to have to have a different rollout later in the year when all those additional vaccines (arrive),” Mr Morrison told Triple M on Wednesday.
“Right now, we need to get our elderly vaccinated.
“If you are aged over 70 right now I would urge you to go and see your doctor.”