Health Minister Greg Hunt has accused Daniel Andrews of ‘seeking conflict’ with his dig at the Federal Government over the vaccine rollout.
He said it was ‘fantastic news’ but took a swipe at Scott Morrison, saying: ‘Maybe if they had been ordered last year they would be arms already.’
Mr Hunt fired back on Monday, saying Mr Andrews was trying to ‘divert’ attention and criticise the Prime Minister.
‘There was a major announcement. For whatever reason, there may have been a desire to divert. They’ve achieved that outcome,’ he told 3AW radio.
‘We’re always working with all of the states. And from time to time, some of them will, as you know, seek a conflict.
‘And so, the goal here was clearly to move from the announcement to another topic.
‘The announcement is actually about supporting Victorians and saving and protecting lives with the blitz in the north west.
‘And if you’re listening in the north west, if you’re listening anywhere in Victoria, please come forward to be vaccinated.’
The Federal Government only ordered 10million Pfizer doses last year before upping this to 40million in April when health advice around the AstraZeneca vaccine changed.
It has also brought in a further 5.5million after deals with the UK, Poland and Singapore.
One million Moderna vaccines have also been bought from the EU, adding to Australia’s existing supply of 10million which start to arrive later this month.
The agreements have allowed the Commonwealth to send an extra 400,000 Pfizer and Moderna doses to Victoria in September – to help with the state’s outbreak after Sydney was given an extra Pfizer 500,000 doses in August.
Dan Andrews couldn’t help but take a shot at Scott Morrison after finding out live during his daily press conference Victoria was getting a huge shipment of vaccines
On Sunday Mr Andrews was asked about the Prime Minister’s announcement and replied ‘good,’ before clarifying he had no idea the vaccines were on the way and they were in addition to other doses he announced.
‘I am delighted to know that, that is fantastic news! Get them into arms! That is what I’m about,’ he added.
On Monday Victoria Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed that the state government had not been told about the size of the vaccine allocation until after Mr Morrison announced it publicly.
‘I wrote to the Federal Minister on Saturday, the Prime Minister made his announcement on Sunday morning, the Federal Minister rang me on Sunday afternoon, and he wrote to me this morning, confirming it. That’s the timeline,’ he said.
Minister Hunt insisted the Victorian government had been told but the message had not been passed up to the premier.
‘[Vaccine rollout boss] General Frewen was able to work with his counterpart in Victoria, and there was advice about the Victorian numbers,’ he said.
‘It’s unfortunate that the only person who wasn’t aware was the Premier. But we move on.’
In his surprise on Sunday, Mr Andrews said: ‘It’s hard to know what to expect, I didn’t expect hundreds of thousands of doses that should’ve come to Victoria went to Sydney, but this is fantastic news.
‘Maybe while I’ve been talking to you there’s been a missed call on my phone.
‘I don’t know, let’s not argue about who said what to whom. Let’s get jabs in arms and that is what I’m focused on. Always have been.’
Mr Andrews was asked by a reporter if he had just found out the vaccines were coming to his state, to which he replied ‘yes’, before saying: ‘Maybe if they had been ordered last year they would be arms already!’
Mr Morrison (pictured on Sunday) announced 400,000 extra vaccines would go to Victoria
Mr Andrews was referring to the emails that were leaked this week between the Federal Government and representatives from Pfizer that appeared to show ministers stalling on a Pfizer deal.
On June 30 last year a Pfizer representative contacted the Health Department to request the meeting, saying the American company had ‘the potential to supply millions of vaccine doses [around the world] by the end of 2020’.
Mr Hunt left it to Health Department First Assistant Secretary Lisa Schofield to respond and three days later she said that she – not the minister – would attend a virtual meeting on July 10.
The US and Britain signed deals to buy millions of doses from Pfizer in July but no-one from Mr Hunt’s office met the company until August 4.
Australia finally signed a deal for a measly 10 million doses in November. The first doses arrived in February, two months after the US and Britain had already rolled them out.
Mr Andrews referenced the failure of the federal government to fully supply Australia with vaccines earlier, while also reiterating Mr Morrison’s reported bias towards his home state of NSW.
The Victorian Premier has labelled Scott Morrison the ‘Prime Minister for NSW’ in the past.
He demanded 340,000 vaccines be distributed to Victoria earlier this week, tearing into Mr Morrison’s ‘secret’ and ‘under the table’ handling of the rollout.
‘I signed up to the national plan to vaccinate our nation, not a national plan to vaccinate Sydney,’ Mr Andrews said last week.
‘We have seen hundreds of thousands of vaccines that should have come and should now be in the arms of Victorians going into Sydney and into GP practices in NSW.
Epidemiologists are concerned the current trend could see Victoria’s rate overtake that of NSW, with the state on track to record over 1,000 cases per day in the coming weeks
‘This was not announced. This was done without anyone knowing, and the Commonwealth have got caught doing it so it needs to stop.
‘There needs to be a make good. There needs to be a reckoning where additional doses come to Victoria.’
Mr Morrison referenced the Victorian supply during a press conference on Sunday, saying they were prioritising the state as its outbreak deepens.
‘Victoria is currently dealing with the continued surge in cases just like we saw in NSW some time ago,’ he said.
‘Residents in particular in Melbourne’s north and west will benefit from additional vaccines and the rapid expansion of vaccination sites across the region.’
Victoria recorded 392 cases of coronavirus on Sunday amid concerns the outbreak is taking off faster than Sydney’s and will soon top 1,000 a day.
Just 107 of the new cases were linked to the outbreak with 285 still under investigation by overwhelmed contact tracers.
They were diagnosed from 48,063 tests and 36,534 vaccine doses were administered on Saturday.
Experts are concerned Victoria’s numbers are skyrocketing at a faster rate than NSW, with accelerated vaccinations and community compliance required to stop cases rising further