Peter Dutton defends Scott Morrison's 'Trump-like' comments: 'Perfectly sensible'

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Peter Dutton has defended Scott Morrison's comments about vaccine mandates, saying state and territory governments shouldn't "segregate" people who are unvaccinated.

"I just think you cannot segregate a part of the community, even if you disagree with the decision they've made," the defence minister told the Today show on Friday.

"We are moving into a phase now where we have to live with this."

Screenshot from The Today show showing Peter Dutton wearing a navy blue suit and maroon tie.
Peter Dutton doesn’t want people who are not vaccinated segregated from society. Source: Nine Network

Mr Dutton said opening up to unvaccinated people was the "reality of where we are".

"I think the prime minister has made a perfectly sensible remark here," he said.

"That is, that the states in the plan they’ve signed up to, the commitment they gave to the country is when we got to 80 per cent double vaccination rate we would go back to having to live with this."

Nationally, about 84 per cent of the population aged 16 and over is double-dosed and 91 per cent have received one dose.

However Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory are yet to reach the 80 per cent milestone and are enacting policies including vaccine mandates to get more people vaccinated.

Mr Dutton blamed Queensland's slow vaccination rate on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's criticism of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"The reason we are behind most other states in the country is because the premier went out and bagged AstraZeneca at a time when other premiers, including Labor premiers, weren’t," he said.

State premiers react to PM's comments

Mr Morrison has been accused of "pandering to extremists" over vaccine mandates, with state governments furiously reacting to his comments made on Thursday.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan accused Mr Morrison of trying to "score points" with anti-vaxxers.

“There should be no walking on both sides of the fence, you condemn it and you support each of us that is trying to get people vaccinated across Australia," he said on Thursday.

“We can’t have anyone trying to score points with the anti-vaxxers or dog-whistling to them."

Photo of Australian PM Scott Morrison at a press conference.
Scott Morrison says governments should let Australians ‘take their life back’. Source: AAP

PM's comments undermine vaccine rollout, Labor says

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles accused the coalition of picking a fight with Labor states.

"This undermines the vaccine rollout that is going on in WA and Queensland," he said on Today.

Mr Marles pointed out NSW also had restrictions on what unvaccinated people could do.

"The prime minister wasn't saying this in respect of NSW," he said.

Labor National President Wayne Swan told Today on Friday the prime minister was "behaving like Donald Trump".

"He is pandering to political extremists for political gain," Mr Swan said.

"I think he is playing politics. He is desperate in Queensland but I don't think it's going to work ... the vaccine mandates that were announced here have led to a surge in vaccinations."

Richard Marles in front of water wearing a suit in a screenshot from Today.
Richard Marles says NSW also had restrictions on what unvaccinated people could do.Source: Today

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews appeared on Sunrise on Friday morning, saying he "doesn't need to be lectured by Scott Morrison" about lockdowns.

"Why did we have lockdowns? Because we did not have a vaccine. Who forgot to order the vaccine? It wasn’t state premiers," he said.

"I'm committed to doing what has to be done, and not about chasing through double-speak, the votes of extremists or their preferences," he also told Sunrise's rival Today.

"I will not do that. Others choose to do that — well, that's on them."

Scott Morrison takes swipe at states' vaccine mandates

Scott Morrison has indicated frustration with pandemic restrictions is broader than the number of people engaging in violent protests outside Victoria's parliament.

While the prime minister condemned the protests against Victoria's pandemic laws, he reiterated comments that people have had enough of government-imposed Covid-19 measures.

"I completely and totally continue to denounce any violence, any threat, any intimidation - and any suggestion that I have not done that is completely false," Mr Morrison told reporters on Friday.

"I don't have sympathy for violence. I don't have sympathy for intimidation or threats whatsoever.

"I have sympathies for Australians who have had a gutful of governments telling them what to do over the last two years."

Mr Morrison has come under fire for calling for the scrapping of Queensland’s vaccine mandate when the state reaches 80 per cent jab coverage on Thursday.

The prime minister said it was time for state governments to "step back" and allow Australians to "take their life back."

He also called for state premiers to allow people to "move forward" — whether they were vaccinated or not — and drop vaccine mandates once 80 per cent of the eligible population were fully vaccinated.

“Over the last couple of years, governments have been telling Australians what to do,” Mr Morrison said during a press conference.

“Now there has been a need for that as we have gone through the pandemic, but the time is now to start rolling all of that back."

with AAP

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