Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt speaks to SBS Arabic24 about the coronavirus vaccine, Australia's domestic and international borders and the country's ability to contain a large outbreak.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has assured diverse communities that he wants to respect religion and culture while instilling confidence in the national coronavirus vaccine program.
The government is hoping a vaccine against COVID-19 will be available next year once trials confirm it is safe and secure, but Mr Hunt has confirmed it will not be mandatory.
He told SBS Arabic24 the government is mindful of cultural identity but seemed confident about Australia’s strong vaccine rates against disease.
“Right now we want to give people the confidence that any vaccine that we adopt will be safe. It would have been through the clinical trials, the British regulators, and the Australian regulators, in the case of Oxford. and the clinical trials and the Australian regulators in our own vaccine committee with regards to the Queensland Molecular Clamp," he added.
And despite confirming the vaccine will not be mandatory, Mr Hunt left the door open for a possible change in the way the government will handle the situation based on medical advice.
“We have an independent expert panel that will be providing advice, so we haven't formed any views. We haven't proposed to take any steps with regards to compulsion, [it] will be guided by the medical experts,” he said.
More than 27,000 Australians are waiting to board planes to return home.
Mr Hunt said states and territories needed to increase their limits so more people can return and quarantine in hotels.
“What we want to do is bring them home. At the same time, the hotel quarantine system as difficult as it's been for individuals to go through it. I've been through quarantine once and I'm actually speaking to you from quarantine for a second time.”
New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland will accept an extra 500 people each week to allow more passengers on planes to come back home.
Listen to the entire interview with Minister Greg Hunt by clicking on the image at the top of the story.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.
Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus