Media event date: 
21 April 2020
Date published: 
21 April 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

JASE:

Greg Hunt is the Minister for Health. He’s joining us on the air this morning. Good to have you back Greg. Cheers for your time mate.

GREG HUNT:         

And good morning. No, it’s a real pleasure to be with you.

JASE:

The big question, PJ and I were just chatting about it before the song and PJ, you brought up a good point. I think just people want to know an end goal. You know, human- how were you describing it before?

PJ:

Well I was just say humans, even if it’s not a good outcome necessarily, we’d rather know that than not know anything. And so I think people just need to know something, I think we need to hang on to okay, you know, something better’s coming.

When can we expect it? And I know for you and your position it must be really difficult to actually be able to detail that. But, can you shed any light on that?

GREG HUNT:         

No, I can and I think it’s a really important question. The first is to say thank you. In the last 24 hours we’re down to 13 cases across Australia, that’s new cases which is almost inconceivable, compared with where we are and what we were facing.

And that’s the result of all the work of people who are doing the difficult things of staying at home, it puts us in a position to be able to emerge on the other side. So now we’re in a four-week period where we’re really trying to suppress the virus as much as possible and we’re planning those steps out for the end of that four-week period.

But, even today, we might be able to bring forward some of the benefits because of all the incredible work people have done, with the potential for some elective surgery, IVF, dental procedures. Things that will make a huge difference to people.

Being assessed by the National Cabinet today, but as Health Ministers we went through last night, and there’s strong support for that. So I’m quietly hopeful that there may be some additional good news and early benefits from all the work that people have been doing.

I mean, whether it’s our nurses, our doctors, but people just are taking care of each other by keeping their distance.

JASE:

And then, so after the four-week period – because you’re saying the next four weeks are pretty important to try and really stamp this thing out.

Long term, over the next couple of months, when can we see life somewhat returning to- I mean it’s never going to be back to the way it was – but you know, big milestones.

Like people going out, people being able to catch up and see loved ones?

GREG HUNT:         

So it will be progressive, in the sense that we wouldn’t suddenly release, because we’ve seen a second wave in a country like Singapore, which has been doing an amazing job and even they’ve had a second wave. So –

JASE:

Is that what caused it, Greg? Sorry, because I did see the second wave in Singapore, is that what caused it? They sort of- they opened the gates pretty much and said -

GREG HUNT:         

It’s more – Singapore has been more about the guest worker quarters where there was a very, very significant outbreak with the migrant workers, who were in close quarters, all living together. But, nevertheless, they’ve had to make additional restrictions and put in place additional tightening.

And so every country has to focus on that. What we’re doing is plotting a step by step pathway out, with elective surgery being the first significant step. The basic social restrictions staying in place for four weeks, but I saw my home state of Victoria on the weekend, opened up I think kayaking and some other small steps.

So, the way we look at it from here is what are the low-risk, high social or economic value – you talk about social in terms of the ability, particularly for people who might be living alone, to have somebody visit them. Sorry –

JASE:

I think just on that-

PJ:     

Which is so important.

JASE:

Yeah. And everyone’s got to remember when we start lifting this stuff, there’s priorities, you know what I mean? Let’s open the movie cinemas last and let’s go and see grandma first. You know what I mean?

GREG HUNT:         

They’re exactly the calculations we’re doing, it’s what can we do that is safe, but really important. You can understand that IVF and elective surgeries are right at the top of that tree and so today’s a very, very important day.

At the same time, today, we’ve just had over 3000 ventilators, made in Australia by a great Australian company, ResMed, delivered. That just gives us extra capacity, extra safety, extra precaution. So all the things we’re doing now; we’ve been fighting the virus, containing the virus and as I said on the weekend, we’re winning but we haven’t won yet.

JASE:

Yeah. We know that and we’ve got to stay with it.

PJ:     

And just, I know this is just one thing that just keeps popping up and there’s so, like many rumours around it, but international travel. Obviously set to probably be the last thing that is lifted, would you say next year? Like realistically?

Because there’s a lot of headlines coming out saying - you won’t be able to travel until 2021. Can you give any information around that?

GREG HUNT:         

So I do think that international travel will be one of the last things we do. Because what Australia is doing is very different to where most of rest of the world is and there are going to be some very difficult times, particularly in parts of Africa and South East Asia, Latin America.

We can see what’s happening in Europe and North America, you know, countries that we know and love and visit and they’re highly sophisticated and yet they’re struggling with just agony upon agony.

So, protecting the borders is going to be one of the most important things, so it will take a time, we haven’t got a timeframe but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

JASE:

Great. So I think we’re getting a Jase & PJ boat and getting you home? I think we’re going to be swimming across New Zealand so you can see the boyfriend PJ.

PJ:

Yeah.

JASE:

Just quickly Greg, before we let you go, something I want to ask about that. We’re hearing the news that Virgin could be facing voluntary administration.

I’m just, I’m trying to get my head around how the Government would let that happen? Are we possibly looking at only having one airline when this whole thing, you know, comes out at the other side?

GREG HUNT:         

No, we don’t think that that will be the case, that there’ll be one airline. People in Virgin are in voluntary administration because of JobKeeper, are actually going to have a stronger position in terms of their jobs.

I know that the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg and the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, will be saying something later this morning, as soon as Virgin has actually made a statement to the market.

So, have no doubt that the Government is very much there, but the board is making their own decisions. They haven’t actually made a statement, so we’ll see what they say. But, we are well prepared and very focused.

JASE:

So can I just ask? Would staff on JobKeeper at Virgin still be paid, if they go into voluntary administration?

GREG HUNT:         

Yes, they will. That’s a very important question and that’s something which was part of the legislation.

JASE:

Okay. Because I know there’d be thousands of out of work Virgin employees that would be happy to hear that this morning. Hey, we’ll let you go, because we know you’re busy. But, Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, joining us on the air this morning. Always good to chat, Greg.

GREG HUNT:         

Thanks very much you guys. Look, take care and we are making, as a country, real progress thanks to all the difficult things that people are doing.

JASE:

It’s great. It feels like we’re making progress. It’s not easy, but at least we’re seeing it’s working. Cheers.

GREG HUNT:         

Alright. Bye.

PJ:

Thanks so much, Greg.

Ministers: