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

MELISSA DOYLE:

Minister, thank you so much for making the time today. I want to ask you how likely it is that elective surgery including IVF will resume next week?

GREG HUNT:

Elective surgery is being considered by the National Cabinet next week, and I have in fact literally come off a call just prior to this interview where we were discussing the potential for IVF, and I very specifically made the point that both the Prime Minister and myself would love to see IVF back to full operation in Australia.

Now, for the first time, we’re in a position to be able to consider progressively enabling more and more elective surgery.

It will start with a first round, and that’s being determined on priorities as it should be, but with IVF, absolutely one of those that’s being considered.

MELISSA DOYLE:

When do we get to the point that we can ease up restrictions?

GREG HUNT:

We’ve made huge progress but now we want to make sure that we really clamp down on it, find any outbreaks.

I’m hopeful that if the transmission rates remain low, we’ll be able to progressively take gentle steps, I don’t want to overstate it, but gentle steps which will allow us to get out.

What we don’t want to do is risk a second wave.

MELISSA DOYLE:

Absolutely, and nobody wants that either.

But can I ask you just to give me maybe some examples? And I won’t hold you to this, but what are you thinking could be top of the list?

GREG HUNT:

One of the things that will be maintained is the social distancing. That’s absolutely critical. But it could be different types of activity.

In some states for example, things such as fishing and golf may not be allowed at the moment.

If they can maintain the social distancing rules, and I think that is absolutely a part of the equation here, then that might be something that those individual states would allow.

And as a country, wherever we can allow people to see each other, it could be people who are isolated and alone being able to have a visitor or a pair of visitors.

We’ve got to make sure that, first and foremost, we’re protecting against a second wave.

But if, over the next 4 weeks, we are able to achieve these continued low transmission rates, tending towards zero, then that will give us the chance to really be a beacon, I think, not just for Australia, but a beacon for the world.

MELISSA DOYLE:

All right. And just lastly, World Health Organization — America’s pulled funding, our Prime Minister has said that we won’t.

But there’s been some calls for it to at least be reviewed or maybe be a little conditional, is that something that you would support?

GREG HUNT:

So, the funding is very important for the region, where they do really productive things such as polio, measles, malaria.

We did have differences with the global leadership in terms of, we called this as a disease of pandemic potential 10 days before they did.

We put the China ban on and we were criticised by the World Health Organization.

That’s been one of the things which has helped save lives and protect lives.

So we’re making the decisions in our national interest.

I think there will be, rightly, a review of what has happened in Geneva.

The local work in our Pacific basin, in and amongst our neighbours has been very well done and very important.

But I think there are a few questions for Geneva to answer as to why they were so slow in calling it a pandemic, and why they opposed the sort of travel bans which have, I think, played a very important role in Australia being at the global forefront of positive outcomes for the population.

MELISSA DOYLE:

Yeah. Minister Greg Hunt, thank you for your time as always, appreciate it.

GREG HUNT:

Thanks Mel.

Ministers: