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Private sector will be brought in to speed up vaccination rollout

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced a four-day lockdown late on Monday evening with three cases of the Delta variant detected in Perth since Sunday, while NSW recorded 19 new cases as lockdown continues.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said Delta outbreaks could not be managed without significant restrictions.

“Locking some people out is better than locking everyone down – we need a national approach to how we manage this new threat until we achieve proper vaccine coverage,” he said.

Lieutenant-General Frewen was brought in three weeks ago by the Prime Minister to oversee the vaccine rollout. He’s started working with states and territories on a concrete immunisation plan for the rest of the year now they know how many vaccines to expect over the rest of the year.

So far state hospital hubs, Commonwealth-run respiratory clinics and GPs are administering vaccines but the Lieutenant-General said the private sector will also be brought on board.

“I know across business, there are sectors who would be keen to do that themselves; they’re currently not empowered to do that,” he said.

“The mining sector, banks … lots of them are saying, ‘let us get on with it and we’ll get out of the way of the public health system’.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday said the state government was also exploring the possibility of large businesses providing vaccines for workers on site.

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“What we do know is if all the doses we’ve been promised are going to arrive we need more points of access for our citizens to make sure people get those jabs in arms,” said Ms Berejiklian.

“That’s why it’s important to have all GPs we can online … and to look at other opportunities, whether it’s our pharmacy network and also potentially corporates and large businesses that may be able to do vaccines onsite. I’ve made these points very clearly in national cabinet behind closed doors.”

Business Council of Australia chief executive officer Jennifer Westacott said major businesses already vaccinate staff for influenza, and they were in a good position to vaccinate their staff against the coronavirus.

“There’s a lot of preparatory work that can be done now so that when we have the vaccine we can go really hard,” she said.

Lieutenant-General Frewen said his team was also looking at how the private sector can help shape incentives around immunisation.

“I think we potentially need to go there,” he said.

“My job is now to get the vaccination done, and I’m intent on doing it as fast as we can and in convincing as many Australians as possible to get it done.”

With Lucy Carroll, Shane Wright, Sumeyya Ilanbey

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