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PM insists premiers must stick to jab targets to end lockdowns

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned skittish premiers that abandoning vaccine coverage targets tied to reopening would break a deal with Australians.

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He urged his state and territory counterparts to stick with an agreement to lift restrictions when 70 and 80 per cent of people are fully immunised.

Morrison said it was about rewarding people who had made sacrifices, adhered to lockdowns and been vaccinated.

“Premiers and chief ministers have signed up to that plan,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“But they haven’t signed up with me, they have signed up with the Australian people. It’s very important that we continue to work that plan.”

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan earlier in the week doubled down on striving for zero coronavirus cases even when 80 per cent of people are inoculated.

McGowan argues the agreement does not rule out concentrated lockdowns even when the higher threshold is reached.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the modelling is based on achieving 70 per cent coverage with very little coronavirus circulating.

Morrison insisted the deal was about releasing restrictions when targets are reached.

“I expect the states and territories to live up to the plan they’ve agreed to,” he said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian continues to pledge greater freedoms will be handed to vaccinated people in her locked down state at 50 per cent vaccine coverage.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said some easing would be allowed at 70 per cent but described 80 per cent as a game changer.

There were more than 600,000 doses administered in the past two days as the behind-schedule rollout gains momentum.

More than half the population over 16 has received one dose but fewer than three in 10 people are fully vaccinated.

The prime minister said Treasury and Doherty Institute modelling underpinned the national cabinet agreement to all but end lockdowns.

“It actually becomes a more costly way of achieving a similar health outcome,” Morrison said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said federal lockdown support flowing to states would not continue at current rates if heavy restrictions were imposed amid high vaccination coverage.

NSW is the epicentre of the nation’s third coronavirus wave with another 642 new local cases reported on Friday.

A curfew will be imposed on Sydney’s worst-hit areas, while the city’s lockdown has been extended until at least the end of September.

Victoria recorded 55 new infections, with 49 linked to existing outbreaks and 25 isolating while contagious.

There were 12 new cases in Canberra with the ACT outbreak infecting 94 people in eight days

Australia’s medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, is considering approving the Pfizer vaccine for all children aged 12 to 15.

Vaccination coverage thresholds will continue to be counted based on over-16s even if the younger cohort are added to the rollout.

All of the Northern Territory is out of lockdown after Katherine joined Darwin in easing restrictions.

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