'The risk remains great': Prime Minister dispels suggestion the pandemic is over
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed media after the first national cabinet meeting in two weeks.
Mr Morrison said Australia has made faster progress than anyone could have anticipated back in March and the roadmap to normality is being implemented.
"The Premiers are getting on with that plan and we still have an enormous amount of work to do in the months that are ahead," he said.
And that is to both manage, as always, and suppress, the virus, and to ensure that we can reopen our economy and our economy is reopening.
We continue to receive the information and the data that is showing an improvement and an economy that, while it has been severely impacted when compared to economies overseas, which have been subject to far more onerous restrictions than Australia, not just on the health front but on the economic front, is fairing much better."
Mr Morrison said the goal was never eradication and the risk remains great.
"Australia’s success can lead some to think that perhaps the risk was never there in the first place, but that is not true," he said.
"We only need to look at countries as sophisticated as ours, as developed as ours, with health systems as strong as ours, who have death rates 100 times of what has occurred in Australia.
"So, we would be foolish to think that we were immune or that we are immune. And as a result, the three-step plan, keeping the balance between the health management of the crisis and the economic management of the crisis in balance, continues to be the balance that the National Cabinet seeks to achieve and I believe is achieving."
Mr Morrison said the national health reform agreement provides an additional $34.4 billion in funding to public hospitals from July 1 this year.
He added there is also a funding guarantee to all states and territories to ensure no jurisdiction is left worse off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council of Australian Governments will be replaced by the National Cabinet as of Friday.
"The National Cabinet will continue to work with a laser-like mission focus on creating jobs as we come out of the COVID crisis and we work into the years into the future," Mr Morrison said.
"The National Cabinet will work together, with what is known as the council and federal financial relations, that is basically the meeting of treasurers. They met today.
"Those treasurers will take responsibility for all the funding agreements for the states and the Commonwealth."