PM’s Plan for Interstate Vaccine Passports Faces Increasing Pushback

By AAP
May 23, 2021 Updated: May 23, 2021

Scott Morrison faces stiff opposition on plans to allow vaccinated Australians to travel between states in the event of coronavirus lockdowns.

The prime minister will pitch his internal passport idea to the national cabinet later this week.

But the proposal would deny freedom of movement to the many Australians who refuse to be immunised.

Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham said the plan would give Australians greater certainty in terms of what benefits being vaccinated delivers for them.

But premiers and chief ministers are not sold on the interstate passports, and neither is federal backbencher Matt Canavan, who says freedom of movement is an Australian birthright.

“First and foremost, I want to make sure we keep the borders open by keeping COVID-19 suppressed,” Senator Birmingham told ABC radio on Monday.

“That is the priority, to make sure the states and territories have no excuse or reason to close those borders.

“It’s not unreasonable though to be talking through with the states and territories whether or not those vaccinated Australians are able to move more freely or not.”

About 3.6 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have so far been administered through a mix of AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs.

The number is short of what the government was hoping for due largely to supply issues but could soon receive a shot in the arm.

The government is promising two million doses of Pfizer will arrive in Australia each week from the start of October.

This could see every Australian who wants protection from COVID-19 to be fully immunised by the end of this year.

Senator Birmingham said that was the government’s hope but stopped short of making a firm commitment.

“There have been many uncertainties in the vaccine rollout to date, and we need to continue to be honest about the fact we can’t control every aspect of global supply,” he said.

“We can’t control whether there are unexpected impacts in relation to health or other factors or advice that impact the vaccine rollout.”

There are fears the rollout has been hampered by complacency and vaccine hesitancy, particularly in relation to the AstraZeneca jab.

Senator Birmingham is urging people not to wait for alternative vaccines to arrive.

“Australians aged over 50 who have concerns or hesitancy should sit down and talk to their GP,” he said.

“That’s the right place for people to get their health advice.

“Australians are turning out and making their decision to get vaccinated. I congratulate them for it and encourage people to keep talking to their medical advisers, their GPs about that.”

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid stressed the need for vaccination urgency, saying it was only a matter of time before another outbreak.

“There isn’t a good vaccine and a bad vaccine. They’re both excellent vaccines,” he told reporters in Perth.

“Go out and get vaccinated as soon as you can … The more people that are vaccinated, the lesser the impact that will b