PM reacts to SA’s hard COVID lockdown

Scott Morrison has commented on South Australia’s lockdown measures after criticising Daniel Andrews’ handling of Victoria’s outbreak.

South Australia will be “back to normal” within a week, Scott Morrison says, despite previously criticising Victoria’s hard lockdown measures.

SA’s Liberal Premier Steven Marshall announced on Wednesday the state would go into a six-day lockdown, as he looked for a “circuit breaker” to quell a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The Prime Minister said the system would be in place “no day longer than it has to be” and was “the result of careful consideration” by the SA government.

“We’re going to back his judgment on this. I’m very confident he’ll have things back to normal within a week,” Mr Morrison told Sky News’ The Kenny Report in a wide-ranging interview.

“Their tracing system is working very well, their isolation system is working very well. Their testing system has been extraordinary.”

The Prime Minister was heavily critical of Victoria’s Labor Premier Daniel Andrews for his response to the state’s outbreak, including a lockdown that lasted over 100 days.

But he says the SA government had acted specifically “to avoid what occurred in Victoria” – despite outbreaks in both states being linked to hotel quarantine failures.

“What we have here is not a four-month lockdown. What we have here is not a lockdown put in place because of the failure of any tracing system,” Mr Morrison said.

“This has been done by the Premier to give the best opportunity to return to that normal state as soon as possible.

“This is not pursuing these measures for their own sake at all. They are only done on the clear basis of health advice, and the Premier has been very clear on that health advice.”

Mr Morrison also told Kenny that Australia’s admiration for its servicemen “stills stands firmly”, despite a bombshell report alleging war crimes in Afghanistan.

The report into ADF misconduct in Afghanistan was released on Thursday, finding evidence of 39 murders of Afghani civilians and prisoners by Australian special forces.

It recommended the AFP launch investigations against 19 Australian soldiers.

Australian Defence Force chief Angus Campbell apologised “sincerely and unreservedly for any wrongdoing” committed by Australian forces, some of which he conceded was “utterly disgraceful”.

But Mr Morrison claims the shocking allegations do not negate the country’s appreciation for its current and former servicemen.

“The high esteem in which we hold our defence forces is earned … over more than a century. And that stands and firmly,” he said.

“From the moment (troops put on the uniform), they have earned our respect. In their conduct beyond that, in the overwhelming majority of the defence force backs that up.

“Where things don’t measure up to those standards … we look seriously at those issues, take them seriously, and deal with them seriously.

“Members of our defence forces, more than any others, would expect and want us to do that.”

The report found junior soldiers were pressured by superiors to shoot prisoners and gain their first kill.

It found the perverse ritual known as “blooding” was part of a “warrior culture” allowed to develop within the SAS that included violence, secrecy and intimidation of whistleblowers.

Mr Morrison said the report was a deep-rooted look at the “conditioning factors” relevant to the alleged atrocities, rather than solely individuals.

“This process doesn’t just look at any particular events or acts, it also looks at the environment,” he said.

“Where alleged acts take place, it’s important the lessons are learned to ensure that they can’t be repeated. And that’s just not acts of individuals alone.”

Mr Morrison also conceded Australians were “rightly concerned” about the deteriorating relationship with Beijing but insists “Australia is not seeking to make an enemy of any country, least of all China”.

The comments come after the release of a leaked document, outlining the Asian superpower’s grievances with Australia.

Mr Morrison says he is open to meeting Chinese Premier Xi Jinping in Beijing but “the obstacle to such a conversation is not with Australia”.

He said while it was “for our partners in China to clarify” their grievances, there had “never been an obstacle for Australia, a fair dinkum conversation directly between leaders. I’d be happy to do so”.

“But if the conversation only comes at a price of Australia having to compromise on our clear national sovereign interests, then of course Australians would never agree to it, and neither would I.”


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