By Scott Morrison
Over the past almost two years, Victoria, like so much of the world, has been engaged in the battle of our generation. Beating COVID-19.
With the state reaching the 70 per cent double dose vaccination milestone, victory is in sight.
I want to thank each and every Victorian for the incredible job you’ve done.
Again and again, Victorians have stepped up. Thank you to all Victorians who have had a double dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – and to those who have a first or second dose booked in.
I welcome Premier Andrews’ announcement to safely reopen as part of the National Plan.
Bringing down state borders and bringing down the international border.
Reuniting families and friends. Getting businesses going again. Firing up jobs.
And I look forward to the safe easing of more restrictions across Victoria as the vaccination rate continues to surge.
Victorians have sacrificed so much over the course of extended lockdowns.
Crucially, you’ve rolled up your sleeves, with a first dose vaccination rate of almost 90 per cent – that’s higher than the United Kingdom.
If Victoria was a country it would be the 12th most vaccinated in the OECD on first doses.
Having reached 70 per cent double dose – a critical early mark of the National Plan – you’re about to start reclaiming your lives.
It’s a new chapter, as you begin to open up safely. And stay safely open.
We’ll see relaxations for the fully vaccinated at restaurants, cafes, cinemas, gyms, religious gatherings, weddings and funerals.
Children are heading back to school.
Next month, when the 80 per cent fully vaccinated target is met, Victorians will enjoy even more freedoms.
We’re taking our lives back.
And it’s been achieved by Victorians – and Australians and their governments from all states and territories – signing up to the National Plan.
The Morrison Government rolled up its sleeves with significant vaccine supply and record economic support.
We have provided Victorians with more than 10.8 million COVID-19 vaccines, including almost 685,000 doses that were brought forward to deal directly with outbreaks
Our Government has provided Victorians with over $51 billion in economic support to date, the highest per capita support of any state.
Over $28 billion in JobKeeper Payments, over $5 billion in Coronavirus Supplement, and to combat the impact of Delta, over $3.7 billion in COVID-19 Disaster Payments and over $2.4 billion as our half of Business Support Payments.
We’ve saved lives and livelihoods the Australian way, and now Australians are reclaiming their Australian way of life.
Whether you’re in Victoria or NSW, Queensland or Western Australia, we can feel proud.
We have now administered more than 33 million vaccines around the country.
That’s over 85 per cent of eligible over 16s who have had a first dose and the 70 per cent double dose mark now also achieved nationally (70.01 per cent).
Australia’s double dose vaccination rate has surpassed the United States, and over the coming month we are on track to overtake Israel, France and Germany.
And with first doses administered to around two thirds of 12 to 15-year-olds, thank you to all those parents and kids for responding magnificently to the challenge.
I can understand in Victoria how tough the lockdowns have been.
However, vaccinations are clearly winning the fight.
The vaccines are doing their job. The vaccines are working.
As a result, freedoms are very close for every state or territory that has at some stage been subject to lockdown, or for those states locked in and wanting to see loved ones interstate.
Planes are ready for take off again, as we prepare to reignite international travel and bring Australians home.
All of this has been achieved by following the National Plan, and Australians getting vaccinated at record rates.
We understand that every state is starting at a different point, but we all want the same ending – to bring our country together again, and join the rest of the world.
I know all Premiers and Chief Ministers want this. It’s what the National Plan that we agreed to is all about.
For locked down states, it’s been about winning freedoms back.
For others, it’s about protecting the freedoms you’ve been fortunate to enjoy by safely reopening as a nation.
But for everyone, it’s about getting back to living our lives as we once did, as best we can.
The vaccine supply is there for everyone. Right now.
So please, go and get your second jab. If you haven’t already, please get your first dose. Encourage your friends and family to also get vaccinated.
Victoria, you know this has been the battle of our generation. It’s been long and tough. There have been many sacrifices.
We can’t be complacent. We still have to take one step at a time safely and ensure we always put that safety goal first as we reopen our country.
So thank you again. For rolling up your sleeves, not just in terms of getting the vaccines, but for the sacrifices you’ve made and the resilience you’ve demonstrated.
And thank you to the thousands of nurses, doctors, pharmacists and health care workers who have cared for us, protected us and vaccinated us.
Let’s bring this home – that 70 per cent has to become an 80.
And most importantly, ensure that we are back together with our families, friends and loved ones this Christmas.
Making this Christmas the best ever.
Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia