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War of words between states and Prime Minister Scott Morrison heats up over COVID-19 vaccine mandates, ‘Bit rich to get a lecture’

Mr Morrison yesterday slammed the Queensland and Western Australia governments for continuing to impose extra restrictions on unvaccinated residents past the 80 per cent double vaccination level.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews blamed the slow vaccination rollout as being the need for lockdowns. (Nine)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told Today Mr Morrison’s questioning of mandatory inoculation was a dig at ordinary Australians.

“It’s not a matter of having a dig at state governments,” he said.

“You are having a dig at hard-working people who have got vaccinated.”

Mr Andrews said states and territories were forced into lockdown because of Australia’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“We have had to do lockdowns, as the Prime Minister said we had to be in people’s lives because there were no vaccines,” he said.

“And who forgot to order the vaccines?

“It wasn’t the state governments, so it’s a bit rich to get a lecture.”

This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged state and territory governments to end COVID-19 restrictions. (Getty)

Earlier, Australian Labor Party president and former federal Treasurer Wayne Swan launched a withering attack on the Prime Minister, accusing him of “pandering to political extremists”.

“I think the PM is behaving like Donald Trump,” Mr Swan said on Today.

“He is pandering to political extremists for political gain.

“He’s undermining the vaccine rollout in Queensland, in doing so.

“Queensland and WA have done so well through all of the last 18 months but at every stage, the Prime Minister has set out to undermine both premiers.” 

“It’s like Donald Trump without the comb-over.”

Wayne Swan believes contract tracers could be swamped if NSW comes out of lockdown too early.
ALP president Wayne Swan has accused the Prime Minister of “pandering to political extremists”. (Today)

Mr Swan said the PM was “desperate” in Queensland, but cast doubt on his methods being politically successful.

“The vaccine mandates that were announced here have led to a surge in vaccinations,” Mr Swan said.

“Because we didn’t have the lockdown, people here haven’t been as quick to get vaccinated but in the last week we have seen a real surge and in the middle of that the Prime Minister chooses to get stuck into the Premier about these issues.”

Brisbane anti-vaxxers protest restrictions
Anti-vaccination protesters have assembled in several states this week. (9News)

However, Defence Minister Peter Dutton hit back, saying the states had signed up to a commitment to reopen the country at 80 per cent full vaccination.

“I just think you cannot segregate a part of the community, even if you disagree with the decision they’ve made and we are moving into a phase now where we have to live with this virus,” he said.

“The Prime Minister has stated a perfectly reasonable position.”

He also blamed the Queensland Government for the state’s slower vaccine uptake, saying Ms Palaszczuk had been “bagging” the AstraZeneca jab.

Mr Dutton also condemned threats made by some protesters, saying there was “no question” a line had been crossed.

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Yesterday, Mr Morrison said it was time for governments to step back, after imposing emergency controls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the last couple of years, governments have been telling Australians what to do,” Mr Morrison said.

“Now, there’s been a need for that as we’ve gone through the pandemic.

“But the time is now to start rolling all of that back.”

He said Australians have kept their part of the deal during the pandemic, with more than 80 per cent now double dose vaccinated.

“We now have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world,” he said.

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