DAVID KOCH: Let's get an update from the COVID-19 Taskforce Commander, Lieutenant-General John Frewen. Lieutenant-General, thanks for your time. Case numbers don't seem to be moving in Sydney, exposure sites skyrocketing. Apart from getting people vaccinated, is anything else we can do?
JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. Good morning, Kochie. You know, there are many measures we need to put in place concurrently to defeat this virus. It's- you know, the lockdowns are essential at times like this. Testing, tracing, isolation, social distancing, quarantine, all of those things have a role to play. And of course, vaccination is what gets us to the national resilience in the longer term.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. Vaccination gets us there - that is the silver bullet, isn't it? We have heard complaints from some of the local Mayors in south western Sydney. They're not getting enough vaccines compared with the rest of Sydney. Is that right?
JOHN FREWEN: You would know that weeks ago we provided New South Wales with an additional 150,000 doses of Pfizer, an additional 150,000 doses of AstraZeneca. The intent of those was to, to reinforce the situation in south west Sydney. We're talking with New South Wales authorities all the time, and I know they've been given priority to those areas. We've also been working with GPs and pharmacists, we've now got almost 50 pharmacists providing AstraZeneca down in those areas, so those areas are, are concerning but they are a focus of our attention.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. So, so you're making sure they have enough supply? It's easy to get the jab?
JOHN FREWEN: Absolutely. We're working closely. The GPs and pharmacists have got a hotline they can call for urgent orders of AstraZeneca. We're working with New South Wales state authorities to get them whatever vaccines we can, and of course the New South Wales authorities will prioritise as they see fit.
DAVID KOCH: What you think about the introduction of a vaccine passport? That if you do get vaccinated, you do the right thing, you get extra privileges? Because if we don't have it, why should we do the right thing?
JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. Well that's- ultimately, achieving those high levels of national vaccination allows us to get back to some of those freedoms that we, we want to enjoy. Already, other countries are putting in place vaccine passports. International travel is already not possible into some countries without these passport...
DAVID KOCH: [Talks over] So you support them?
JOHN FREWEN: … so, I think it's a part of the future going forward. Yes, I do.
DAVID KOCH: [Talks over] Okay. Even, even locally? Passports to get into stadiums to watch the footy? To go to restaurants? That's because you've done the right thing?
JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. Look, that's, that's policy work that needs to be done by federal and state governments, Kochie. But the- you know, ultimately, there has to be a point to vaccination…
DAVID KOCH: Okay.
JOHN FREWEN: … and vaccination is about making us all safe.
DAVID KOCH: Yep. Because it is annoying when you do the right thing and then you get a vaccine snob saying: well, I don't have to rush. I want, want Pfizer. And picking and choosing. You go, why should I be doing the hard work and, and you're just, sort of, bludging along?
JOHN FREWEN: Yeah. Look I'm, I'm actually really encouraged by the populations approach to vaccines. The vast majority of people in Australia are keen to get vaccinated and determined to get vaccinated as quickly as they can, so that is, that is heartening. And I really do encourage everybody to, to keep getting out there and getting the bookings in.
DAVID KOCH: Yep.
JOHN FREWEN: Getting out, getting your first and second jabs because it is essential to us, both as individuals and as, as a nation.
DAVID KOCH: Lieutenant-General, appreciate your time. Thank you.
JOHN FREWEN: Thanks, Kochie.