Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has avoided issuing an apology on live TV over the federal government's botched Covid-19 vaccine rollout – a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to do so.
The prime minister did not say 'sorry' for the less than ideal vaccine rollout when prompted on radio yesterday. He did at a press conference on Wednesday acknowledge there had been problems with the program.
"I take responsibility for the problems that we have had, but I am also taking responsibility for the solutions we're putting in place and the vaccination rates that we are now achieving," he said.
Appearing on Channel Nine's Today show on Thursday, Mr Frydenberg was pressed by host Karl Stefanovic to apologise to Australians over the government's failures in rolling out the vaccine.
Yet a defiant and deflective Mr Frydenberg fell short of issuing an apology, merely stating "we accept responsibility" and pointing to the upcoming vaccine doses and the devastation the virus has caused in other countries.
Unsatisfied with his response, Stefanovic taunted the treasurer over his inability to say sorry.
"Sorry seems to be the hardest word, right?" Stefanovic quipped.
"Look this is really, really difficult this vaccine rollout..." Mr Frydenberg said before being interrupted.
"Just say it Josh!" Stefanovic demanded.
But he again avoided doing so, instead reiterating the government is "accepting responsibility".
"We wanted the vaccine rollout to be faster than it's been, that's the key going forward."
It was a similar story for Mr Frydenberg on the ABC's breakfast show where host Lisa Miller too pressed him for an apology.
Again he did not oblige.
"Why is it so hard to say sorry?" she asked, before joking with weatherman Nate Byrne after the interview that unlike Mr Fydenberg she apologises when needed.
His inability to say sorry was picked up by dozens of users on Twitter, with one saying he had gone to "great lengths" to avoid issuing an apology.
"Is it the case that Australian federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg simply cannot even say the word "sorry"?" one person asked.
Morrison receives similar grilling 24 hours earlier
Mr Morrison endured a similar grilling on Wednesday morning during his media round, with Melbourne's KIIS 101.1 host Jase Hawkins taunting the prime minister over his lack of apology.
"What does this spell, S,O,R,R,Y?" he asked Mr Morrison.
While there was no apology, he admitted he was "accountable for the vaccination program and everything that has happened in it".
PM encourages ATAGI to reconsider AstraZeneca advice
Mr Morrison and cabinet ministers have increasingly been referencing ATAGI's decision to advise under 60s not to receive the AstraZeneca jab when responding to questions on the delayed rollout.
With transmission growing across Australia, Mr Morrison urged ATAGI, which is the nation's expert immunisation panel, to reconsider its advice.
ATAGI is currently advising the risks of extremely rare blood clots outweigh the benefits of AstraZeneca for people under 60.
"When they made the decision to restrict or have a preference for those under the age ultimately of 60 to have the Pfizer vaccine, they said they made that decision on the balance of risk," Mr Morrison said.
"Well, it's for them to now constantly reconsider how that balance of risk applies and provide their advice accordingly."
On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd was on the receiving end of "robust" questioning on ABC News Breakfast after Health Minister Greg Hunt allegedly refused to come on the show which has become a regular occurrence host Michael Rowland said.
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