Josh Frydenberg has welcomed news out of Europe this morning that authorities investigating a causal link between the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and blood clots found the jab to be safe.
The treasurer acknowledged that Australia’s vaccine rollout will be “relying on the AstraZeneca vaccine” because of the planned local production of the jab by CSL in Melbourne.
But Frydenberg, being interviewed on ABC TV, would not give an exact date for when he expects the Therapeutic Goods Administration to complete its testing of the first batches and give the final tick of approval needed for distribution to begin.
The Guardian understands the first locally produced vaccines will be leave the Melbourne factory they were produced in for delivery by early next week.
Asked about yesterday’s updated unemployment rate – which is down to 5.8% – Frydenberg played down concerns about the impact of the jobkeeper cutoff at the end of the month.
He referenced the Reserve Bank’s board minutes – something he did when faced with the question on Thursday – that while the wage subsidy cutoff might be “bumpy” initially for the 1 million Australians still receiving that, that the long-term forecast is for no “sustained increase in unemployment”.
Frydenberg was also pressed on Scott Morrison’s comments from Monday, that women protesting outside parliament would be shot were they doing so in other countries.
He said the prime minister was “championing Australia’s democracy”.
Asked if he would use the same sentence, Frydenberg said:
Well, every day of the week I would say we are fortunate in Australia to have the democratic right to demonstrate and to protest. But the key point the prime minister was also making, in that very statement, was that he understood the frustration of the people who were demonstrating, he welcomed their call for greater action and he’s committed to that.