Prime Minister Scott Morrison has admitted implementing social distancing laws across Australia has been “difficult” after he was quizzed on apparent “inconsistencies” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Appearing on the ABC’s 7.30 on Thursday night, Mr Morrison was pressed on the matter by host Leigh Sales, who suggested enforcing of the rules by authorities appeared to confuse the public.
“Do you accept that there's been some inconsistency in the restrictions that people find annoying? For example, why can't I sit in a park by myself and read a book but I can go on a bus with other people?” she asked.
“Look on the practical level on the ground and the way the states are implementing these issues Leigh, of course, it’s difficult,” Mr Morrison responded.
He stressed that Australia was going through an “unprecedented and uncharted times” and praised the public for their understanding.
“Everyone is working to try and get these issues as consistent as they can.”
Sales referred to a case of a NSW primary school teacher who said she was allowed to see other people’s grandchildren but not her own.
However, Mr Morrison said there was advice for elderly Australians to not be put in an environment which risked their safety.
“I made the point before that people who are in those more sensitive cohorts, those who are more vulnerable ... there is advice which is suggesting those individuals should be constrained from their access to others,” Mr Morrison said.
PM asks for understanding from younger Australians
During the interview Sales flagged latest government data that shows there are currently no deaths below the 50 to 59 age category, and pressed the prime minister on whether he was concerned about younger Australians, particularly those affected financially, rebelling if the restrictions were in place for much longer.
He stressed “no one wants these restrictions in any longer than they have to be” and suggested the Australian public had been spared even stricter measures that come with an eradication strategy.
'Is it fair to say that the people who are bearing the hardest burden of the economic shutdown are not the people who are at the most serious health risk?' Sales also asked.
“Testing, tracing and response, they are the three critical weapons we need to combat the virus and at the same time be able to lift your level of economic activity.” – Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP #abc730 #auspol #coronavirusaustralia— abc730 (@abc730) April 16, 2020
“Well, I think that is a reasonable assumption to make, but I don't think they would consider the death of any Australian would be an unreasonable burden to carry for the sake of another one of their fellow Australians,” Mr Morrison responded.
Earlier on Thursday, after meeting with the National Cabinet, Mr Morrison announced current restrictions would not be eased for at least four weeks.
He said such measures would only be lifted once three steps were met, which involved improving testing, increasing tracing capabilities and improving the ability to respond to an outbreak.
The interview comes just six weeks after Sales’ robust exchange with Mr Morrison over his lack of transparency during his tenure including during the bushfires and at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet viewers were less impressed with her questioning on Thursday, taking to social media to suggest the prime minister was let off too lightly and allowed to deviate from her questions.
One Twitter user said Sales had been “soft” with the prime minister while others wondered why the Ruby Princess debacle wasn’t brought up.
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