Business leaders want firm vaccine targets

Business leaders want firm vaccine targets from state and federal politicians.
Business leaders want firm vaccine targets from state and federal politicians.

Business leaders are urging federal, state and territory leaders to set firm vaccination targets to reopen Australia.

The business community has welcomed a four-step plan agreed to by national cabinet to end lockdowns and border restrictions.

But they are concerned key details are still missing, with no firm dates for reopening or clear thresholds for vaccination rates.

Scientific modelling is underway to determine the vaccine thresholds.

Business leaders want to see realistic and achievable vaccine targets to give people hope after 18 long months of pandemic pain.

There is some concern political leaders have been extremely cautious and risk averse.

Jenny Lambert from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned the national plan could fall apart if state premiers ignored targets and timelines.

"We need to make sure we get open and stay open. We need to be mindful that businesses can't survive forever," she told Sky News on Monday.

"We can't continually go from open to lockdown to open to lockdown."

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is hopeful the vaccine targets will spell the end to lockdowns and business restrictions.

He wants Australia to get to the stage where coronavirus is treated like other infectious diseases.

"We have to create a society where we live with the virus like we do with the flu on measles and mumps - we don't want them but we don't close down the economy because of them," Mr Joyce told the Seven Network.

"That's precisely what we're doing and I think the states are now coming on board with that idea. That sets a nation up in a much stronger place."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has identified an 80 per cent vaccination rate to reopen international borders.

But before that happens, Liberal MP Tim Wilson has suggested a more modest target to clear the first hurdle towards normality.

"Frankly, if we're going to move past the first stage, it's going to be somewhere around 60 per cent," he told Sky.

Meanwhile, about 500 GP clinics will start giving the Pfizer jab to patients aged between 40 and 59 this week.

A further 800 GPs are expected to come on board during July and August as the national vaccine program ramps up.

Vaccine supply has been the biggest issue for the rollout, with tens of million of Pfizer doses set to arrive in Australia over the next six months.

In anticipation of the ramp up, the federal government is determined to get as many GP clinics and state-run vaccination centres as possible geared up and ready to go.

Opposition health spokesman Mark Butler said the country was hostage to Pfizer supplies, criticising the Commonwealth for failing to secure more alternatives.

Mr Butler also poked holes in the planned roadmap out of restrictions.

"The lack of detail, the lack of timeframes and milestones means that everyone really is sort of muddling their way through this because the prime minister is not being clear with us," he said.

Australian Associated Press