Question: Covid-19 Restrictions

In Parliament, Questions

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:35): With the relaxing of restrictions at the 70 and 80 per cent levels federally, can the minister clarify whether or not all jurisdictions will be needing to be above that 70 and 80 per cent for the restrictions to be relaxed or whether, in fact, only one jurisdiction or two jurisdictions might be above that level?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:35): I will try to be careful in how I express this. My understanding is that the nation as a whole needs to be at 80 per cent and that all jurisdictions need to be at 80 per cent at each of the milestones, but if I am mistaken on that I will advise the honourable member.

I think it’s important to appreciate that even if every jurisdiction reaches that threshold there will be communities within that won’t. The honourable member asked a question about Aboriginal health services earlier today, and one of the things that we are seeing amongst Aboriginal communities is that there is a large disparity in terms of hesitancy from some communities compared with another.

These are communities which already have vulnerabilities in terms of health issues. So earlier in the pandemic both the commonwealth used the Biosecurity Act to protect vulnerable communities, and certainly the Aboriginal communities themselves activated their access restrictions entitlements under relevant state legislation also.

So I think the honourable member raises an important point, that we are a very large, diverse nation and that as the nation comes out of the current lockdown situation, in terms of international and interstate borders, that doesn’t mean that we won’t need to continue to have what I might call shielding mechanisms.