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Australia’s PM defends Covid vaccine rollout as half of population awakes in lockdown

Here’s Helen Sullivan again with a round-up of latest developments in Australia:

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has refused to apologise for his government’s handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, amid testy exchanges during a radio interview as more than 13 million Australians – or half of the population – awoke in lockdown conditions.

Morrison carried out a whistle-stop tour of radio stations on Wednesday as Covid measures spread further into the state of New South Wales, while Victoria reported a record one-day increase in cases and South Australia began its first full day of a week-long lockdown.

The opposition Labor party has ramped up its pressure on the government, saying the latest restrictions were only necessary because of a lack of vaccine supplies.

Despite repeatedly being pushed to apologise for the “nightmare” vaccine rollout during an interview on Kiis FM, Morrison refused, saying only that the government was focused on “fixing the problems”. To date, just over 11% of Australians are fully vaccinated.

“We have had our problems, there is no doubt about that, and they are problems that are not always things within our control, that is the nature of Covid 19,” Morrison said.

The host, Jason Hawkins, said: “I’m not trying to have a go, I think it is just frustration, we are in lockdown. Can you just say ‘sorry Jase’? It will make me feel so much better and then I feel like I can move on.”

Later, that frustration was not helped by a request that only vaccinated reporters attend the prime minister’s afternoon press conference.

Read more of Helen Sullivan’s report here: Australia’s PM defends Covid vaccine rollout as half of population awakes in lockdown

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