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“If this is going to save lives, then it may be one of the sacrifices we need to make”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated his call for schools to open, and teachers to get back to work for Term 2 speaking with Gareth Parker on Mornings.

The move comes as many schools have shut or have a skeleton staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Morrison says parents should not have to make a choice between keeping a job and home schooling.

“I think teachers are fantastic and amazing, and we have to value them all the time but particularly at times like this when there are so many kids who are so dependent on them,” he said.

“There are kids who unlike some others don’t have the same opportunities at home, to be able to learn at home and could lose a whole year of their education if we can’t get this right.”

“I’m very worried for those kids.”

Mr Morrison has also waved off concerns which have been raised about an app which is being developed to track the spread of COVID-19 saying the app will help save lives.

“If people believed and understood that if we could trace people’s contacts quicker and track down the coronavirus faster, and save people’s lives, which meant we could open the economy up more, well it’s a bit like buying war bonds during the war,” he said.

“There are things we might not ordinarily do but in these circumstances to keep people safe, to save lives and to save people’s livelihoods and get them back to work – if that tool is going to help people do that than this may be one of the sacrifices we need to make.”

On the issue of economic sovereignty, Mr Morrison told Mr Parker the COVID crisis has demonstrated Australia’s need to ensure our domestic capabilities are prioritised and rely less on international product.

“It is about ensuring that we can have profitable, competitive, successful industries in Australia doing these things and the right policy environment to support that,” he said.

“We are already moving to diversify our trade base that was already happening and yes China’s been our biggest partner but that is predominated by the resources sector which is obviously very relevant in Western Australia and Queensland.

“With services exports and broader product exports for Australia, they’re going to a much broader range of countries. The free-trade agreement with Japan and South Korea, with Indonesia most recently, with Singapore we just signed a digital trade agreement with them just recently and of course with the UK and Europe.

“Now all of that will at the moment won’t be as much of a level of activity given what’s happening with the global virus but it’s important we do diversify and also have a capability here that is sustainable economically not off the taxpayer, but off a genuine, credible, viable, commercial operation.”

 

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Liam Bartlett
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