Leigh Sales blasts health minister over 'underwhelming' vaccine rollout

·News Reporter
·3-min read

ABC presenter Leigh Sales has criticised Health Minister Greg Hunt in a fiery interview over Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Mr Hunt appeared on ABC’s 7.30 program on Thursday night to discuss Australia’s vaccination rollout and he told Sales 500,000 Australians had been vaccinated.

Sales called the figure “underwhelming” compared to the US which had 50 per cent of its population vaccinated.

Mr Hunt said more than three million had received the first of the two AstraZeneca jabs.

Sales then asked the minister about aged care facilities and quoted a press release from Mr Hunt’s office which suggested all workers would be vaccinated by March 30.

ABC's Leigh Sales speaks with Health Minister Greg Hunt during ABC's 7.30 program.
ABC's Leigh Sales and Health Minister Greg Hunt faced off in a fiery interview over Covid-19 vaccinations. Source: Twitter/ ABC

“Today we learn, only because of the Covid outbreak, there were this week 29 aged care facilities in Victoria that had not been vaccinated,” Sales said.

The presenter asked Mr Hunt: “Whose head is going to roll for that?”

The minister began to explain how 98 per cent of aged care facilities have been vaccinated but Sales interjected.

“Minister, can you please address what I was talking to you about?” she said.

“In actual numbers, how many facilities does that mean around the country in Australia aged care facilities have not had a vaccination yet?”

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74 aged care facilities still to be vaccinated

Mr Hunt said nine in Victoria would be vaccinated on Friday and Sales asked how many in Australia were still without a vaccination.

“Around Australia, prior to today (Thursday), because we haven't had today's figures come in, we had 74 still to go,” he said.

The answer had Sales horrified.

“You said on 16th February that it would take six weeks,” she said.

“We know these are the most vulnerable people in the country based on the deaths data that we saw last year. How can 74 places not have been vaccinated yet?”

People are seen queuing to enter a mass Covid-19 vaccination hub in Sydney, Australia.
People line up for a Covid-19 vaccine in Sydney. Source: Getty Images

Mr Hunt said flu and gastro outbreaks have slowed down Covid-19 vaccinations but Victoria had managed to push immunisations forward.

He also accused Sales of “quibbling” over percentages.

“I'm not quibbling. I'm speaking on behalf of the families and the residents of the 74 facilities that you just said,” Sales said.

“Covid can spread. That's why states have locked the borders.”

Vaccine rollout 'embarrassing for all of us'

Sales then asked: "So if Covid rips through an unvaccinated aged care facility, that's on you or Minister Colbeck?" 

Mr Hunt replied: "It is 99 per cent completed."

She again asked who would be held responsible.

Mr Hunt said “absolutely” the Australian Government would be and vaccination had been achieved despite it being “an incredibly difficult situation”.

“In a world of 500, 600,000 cases a day, we've had 94 days of zero cases in Australia,” he said.

“So, we know how to get through this. We'll get through it again.”

On Twitter, people responded to the interview by calling the vaccine rollout "a failure".

"Any 'success' we've had at managing Covid is pure luck," one woman tweeted. 

"We are a big country with a small population and a warm climate."

Another woman called the rollout "embarrassing for all of us".

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