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Interview with Natalie Barr on Sunrise about COVID-19

Read the transcript of Minister Hunt's interview on Sunrise with Natalie Barr about coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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Live now to the Minister Greg Hunt. Good morning to you.


Good morning Nat.


First to those dire predictions that the case numbers in Victoria are yet to peak and could hit 1100 by the end of next week. Why has nothing improved?

GREG HUNT:         

Well those are not figures that the Commonwealth has been provided with.

I’ve not seen them and nor on the advice I have only just prior coming to air has the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Professor Paul Kelly.

So we’re enquiring into those.

More generally, we do know that the situation in Victoria remains very serious.

The numbers have progressively grown and our task is to support Victorians and to help keep them safe.

It’s absolutely critical though, that we do have the support, we do have the continued distribution of food, at the same time as we’re entering into these critical and difficult measures which will be agonising for so many people over the coming weeks.


Yeah. Talking about the distribution of food - business groups are seriously concerned about the impact this is going to have on warehousing, on the national supply chain.

Do you think these rules need to be reviewed in Victoria to make sure food gets through?

GREG HUNT:         

Both the Treasurer and myself have met with the Business Council.

The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have approached Victoria to ask that there be flexibility in the distribution centres so as that above all else, at the same time as we’re keeping Victorians a safe, we're also guaranteeing continuity of supply and stability of our supply chains, exactly as you’ve said.

So we’ve made that representation at the highest level.

We do think it is absolutely critical that Victoria provides the flexibility necessary so as we can have safety but also that we have continuity of supply in a modern first world country.


So they were too tough, were they?


Well, what the business community has said and the Business Council said to me absolutely clearly yesterday is that the distribution centres have to have the flexibility to be able to operate, to maintain continued supply and I’ve not heard the BCA be as forthright as that previously.

They’ve been public as well as upfront privately with the Victorian Government and we have

made those representations from the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to say it is essential that there is the flexibility within the system to have the distribution that will maintain continued supply not just to Victorians, but to all Australians.


Yep. Okay. Look, Queensland is going to, of course, shut its border to New South Wales

and the ACT Saturday morning; is this an overreaction considering most of the recent cases in New South Wales have been traced, and under 20 a day in New South Wales?


Look, I respect the right of individual states to make their own decisions.

Those will be matters for the National Cabinet to discuss.

I will say this – it’s a tale of two countries. Obviously, a massive challenge in Victoria, the rest of the country has done and continues to do extraordinarily well.

New South Wales, just as you say is chasing down those cases. Their contract tracing is extraordinary, it is world leading contact tracing in New South Wales and that is keeping people safe.

They’ve had a series of cases come from Victoria, provide potential seeding incidents and yet they’ve tracked them down and yet they’ve traced them.

They’ve been able to isolate and so those things are keeping people in New South Wales safe.

So, we hope that very, very quickly, the New South Wales situation becomes one that the world will look on and say that is a global model of testing, tracing and isolation.


Okay. It’s been revealed almost one in 10 guests at restaurants, pubs and cafes are giving false details for the COVID-Safe register in New South Wales when you check-in.

How much more difficult does this make the contact tracing?


Look, that is obviously illegal. But above all else, it does make it incredibly difficult.

If you are thinking of your mother or your father, your grandparents, the simple act of providing your details is the least we can do.

I know that when we’re able to visit restaurants or cafes in my home state, we’ve been asked to provide our details.

And it’s actually about keeping each of ourselves safe but all of our family and friends. So I want to do this by appealing to the highest instincts, not just the fear of prosecution.

But the highest instincts are about saving lives and protecting lives. And that’s the message.

Right now, each of us has this extraordinary gift, our actions can help save lives and protect lives or inadvertently risk the lives of others.

They’re the stakes that we’re playing for.


Would it help New South Wales if they implemented what South Australia’s doing and make people sit down in pubs and bars?


Look, I’ll leave those particular restrictions and circumstances to each state.

Under the National Cabinet rules, we’ve set out the structures and then they make their individual decisions.

So I won't provide them particular advice, I will say that what they’ve been doing on testing and tracking has been exemplary.


Okay. Minister, we thank you very much for your time morning.


Thanks Nat. Difficult times but we’re going to get through this.


Yeah. Okay. Thank you very much. Greg Hunt.

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