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Q&As from Bradfield Telephone Town Hall (19 April 2021)
Q. Is there a specific timeline for Australia’s borders to reopen?
A. The Australian Government is optimistic for the reopening of Australia’s borders for international travel. However, this will depend on a number of factors, including the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in Australia, and continued low community transmission of the virus within each state and territory. Consequently, there is no specific timeline for borders to reopen.
Q. Has any consideration been given to prioritising front-line workers for vaccination?
A. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised the Australian Government on which groups should be prioritised for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination in Australia. This advice is consistent with guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout prioritised high-risk frontline healthcare workers, as they would be most likely to encounter people with COVID-19.
Q. As someone over 50, I am concerned about the AstraZeneca vaccine. What advice can the government offer?
A. Following advice published by ATAGI in mid-April, the Department of Health has published a decision guide to help patients weight up the potential benefits against risk of harm from the AstraZeneca vaccine. Click here to read the guide.
Q. Why is the Australian Government not following the European Union in its suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine for under 60s?
A. The Department of Health’s decision guide helps patients weigh up the potential benefits against risk of harm from the AstraZeneca vaccine, and will help Australians make an informed decision.
Q. What is the current supply of each vaccine in Australia?
A. Australia’s current vaccine supply information has been published by the Department of Health.
Q. Will mandatory vaccination prior to travelling abroad be enforced?
A. This decision will depend on the airline with whom you may be travelling as well as the policies of the destination country.
Q. Where can I find information about the vaccine, including potential side effects?
A. A comprehensive list of COVID-19 vaccine Q and A’s is provided by the Department of Health. Click here to read them. These questions cover topics such as how long the vaccine may be effective for, and if the vaccines will help protect against the flu.
Non-vaccine related questions
Q. What action will be taken to promote the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody?
A. The Commonwealth has been and will continue to be a key partner in leading the changes put forward by the Royal Commission, 30 years ago. This can be seen in its Closing the Gap strategy, which promotes the improvement of life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with respect to health and wellbeing, education, employment, justice and safety. Each state and territory government report on how they are performing regarding those targets.
In WA for example, $266million is being provided for a range of packages related to Indigenous communities and suicide prevention.
In 2019-20, the Morrison Government also provided $243.5 million in funding under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), for a range of activities to complement efforts by those states and territories to improve justice and community safety outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Activities under the IAS Safety and Wellbeing program include:
- Preventing young people from engaging in offending or antisocial behaviour and diverting them away from the justice system
- Changing offending and antisocial behaviour, including the provision of intensive support for people exiting detention
- Reducing alcohol and substance abuse; and
- Improving social and emotional wellbeing through connection to culture and community
Q. Covid showed how important people’s savings are – How does the Government plan to lift the cap on superannuation?
A. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has confirmed increases to concessional superannuation contributions from $25,000 to $27,500, as well as changes to non-concessional contributions and the transfer balance cap. The annual non‑concessional contribution cap will also increase on 1 July 2021 from $100,000 to $110,000 as announced by Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy Senator the Hon Jane Hume.
Q. What is Australia doing to reduce greenhouse emissions?
A. The $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package, announced in the 2018-19 budget, is Australia’s biggest investment in emissions reduction. The centrepiece of the Climate Solutions Package is the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, which is expected to deliver more than 100 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gas reductions by 2030. This is over and above the $2.55 billion already invested in emissions reduction projects through the Emissions Reduction Fund.
Q. When will cruising resume in Australia?
A. The decision by the Health Minister to implement and extend the human biosecurity emergency period, including the current ban on cruise ships (Cruise Ship Determination), to 17 June 2021 was based on advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.
The Government regularly reviews the restrictions on the entry and movement of cruise ships under the Cruise Ship Determination, taking into account the latest expert medical advice. At this time, there has been no date set for the resumption of either larger domestic or international cruises.
The Department of Health continues to work closely with other Australian Government agencies, state and territory agencies, national health committees and the cruise industry to develop a framework for the staged resumption of cruise ships in a manner that corresponds to the public health risk, takes into account the Australian COVID-19 situation and is consistent with the broader relaxation of COVID-19 international and domestic travel restrictions.
COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships not only pose a public health risk to travellers on cruise ships, but also to the Australian public through disembarking travellers and the burden an outbreak may have on Australia’s health system. For these reasons, the resumption of domestic cruises with Australian passengers is being carefully considered.
While there is a global pandemic, there is an ongoing risk of the entry and spread of COVID-19 in Australia. Day cruises and smaller domestic cruises on ships with 99 or fewer passenger berths are currently permitted under the current national cruise ship ban but these are subject to state and territory requirements and restrictions.
Q. What is Australia’s current climate emissions goal?
A. The five technologies prioritised under our Technology Investment Roadmap have the potential to substantially reduce or eliminate emissions from sectors that account for 90 per cent of global emissions. Getting new energy technologies to parity will enable substantial reductions in global emissions – in both developing and developed countries – and ensure countries don’t have to choose between growth and decarbonisation.
The Technology Investment Roadmap is expected to guide $18billion of Government investment over the next 10 years and drive at least $70 billion of total new investment in low emissions technologies in Australia by 2030. Our plan will support 130,000 jobs by 2030 and avoid in the order of 250 million tonnes of emissions by 2040.