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Interview with Stephen Quartermain and Kate Stevenson on 3AW about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Read the transcript of Minister Hunt's interview with Stephen Quartermain and Kate Stevenson on 3AW about coronavirus (COVID-19).

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

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As we know Victoria is going into lockdown again tomorrow - Mark II. So we thought we’d go straight to the top to find out what's going on.

Let's welcome the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt. Good morning, Minister.


Good morning, Steve. Good morning, Kate.


Now, I heard you last night on your interview and you were very diplomatic, we don't want to make this political but how did Victoria get it so wrong compared to the rest of Australia?


Well you're right. Seven out of eight states and territories; they're in a very strong situation.

Victoria has taken a step backwards, there's just no question about it.

Their hotel quarantine was the main and central problem, we know that there were significant breaches there in Victoria that weren’t present in other in other states and territories.

Secondly, there is no doubt that there was some relaxation from some of the people - the vast majority Victorians have been extraordinary with their distancing but after the protests many people saw a double standard and thought well, if it's okay for 10,000, surely it's okay for 10 –understandable, but the problem is that it wasn't okay for 10,000 people to be huddling together.

And then finally, we had to make sure that the contact tracing- so following up each case is done - each case, every day, every person.

And they’re the challenges in Victoria, we're just simply focusing on supporting the people and supporting the Government.

So, we're providing an extra 260 military for the Victorian Government, an extra 350 for the border.

And we know we can do this - it's difficult, it's hard - we've done it as a country once, we have to do it as a state a second time.


Minister, we read today in The Herald Sun that the contract tracing system is on the verge of collapse purely because of the numbers of cases we're seeing now, and those rising cases of what seems to be community transmission.

Is there anything the Federal Government can do to help with that specifically?


Yes, there is. So we've helped mobilise, not just experts from Queensland and Western Australia and other states, but we're using the New South Wales automated system so they are able to assist with making contact on behalf of Victoria, and we're offering the ADF as well to assist with that process, if Victoria would like it.

But New South Wales is assisting with their network, you know, to engage completely in helping other states and territories.

So, as a country everybody's coming in with Commonwealth support and assistance to back Victoria.


Minister, we just spoke to Professor Tony Blakely from the University of Melbourne, a renowned epidemiologist. He said that in six weeks Victoria could aim for elimination.

We know that the other states are doing brilliantly so far.

We don't know what will happen given some Victorians have been going up to New South Wales.

Obviously, New Zealand have. What is the end goal here? Is Australia is still going for suppression and being able to deal with this pandemic? Or is there any chance we will actually go for elimination here?


So we're at pains to suppress the virus as far as possible.

We've been very cautious because New Zealand set out a certain standard and then when cases emerged there was a great national sense of disappointment and outcry.

Given that it's a global pandemic, given that it's been within the community in Australia, we don't want to over promise.

We're going to aim as high as we can, that's what we've achieved - and we’ve achieved it in Victoria, we’ve achieved it in all the other states and territories - that active suppression to try to get the cases down to as close to zero as possible but without making the false promises because we're always going to have to be on our guard for the foreseeable future here.


We're speaking to the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt. Before we let you go, Greg, you're the Member for Flinders.

Now there’s- we had a caller this morning telling us that people are trying to beat this lockdown and head down to the Mornington Peninsula for a holiday. What would be your message to those people?


The message from the premier was very, very clear - that you should not go to your holiday homes, it's there not just as part of what he said, it’s there writing and so the rules are clear - they apply to all of us, everywhere with no exceptions.


Thanks for your time. Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, on Victoria's lockdown Mark II for coronavirus.

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