Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Transcript: Immunisation History Statements and the Australian Immunisation Register will complement the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine

7 February 2021

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
E&OE

MINISTER ROBERT:

Good morning, it is a beautiful day in Queensland and a beautiful day on the Gold Coast.

The Morrison Government is completely focussed on our economic recovery as well as ensuring the safety of lives and livelihoods. The Prime Minister has announced the vaccine rollout and today I can confirm the Australian Immunisation Register will be the record for all vaccinations for Australians and that record will form the basis of the vaccination certificate that all Australians will be able to use, including visa holders. That certificate is available right now, people can access it from the Medicare Express Plus, from myGov, or indeed they can call or visit Services Australia and get a paper record. And we’ll continue to build out that vaccination certificate so all Australians will have a record. But importantly, we’ll use the Australian immunisation Register, a register that has been around for many, many, many years, that is robust, solid, millions of Australians have been using it and accessing it every year, and all Australians will be able to access it absolutely and utterly securely through the government platforms and now that we’ve put digital identity into my myGov, there’s even greater assurances for Australians that do that.

I note also, today, that Mr Albanese is in Queensland. We welcome any tourist to come to Queensland and spend their money here. I look forward to Mr Albanese visiting our mines, our rural communities, our farms, and explaining to all Queenslanders exactly how he expects them to pay for his climate policies. We’ve made the point that we will deliver on our targets through technology, not taxes, and that we will not put a burden on rural Australians. I look forward to those rules Australians looking Mr Albanese in the eye and asking him exactly how he intends to make them pay for his policies.

And on a final note, just watching Insiders, I see Mr Marles has asked that the Australian Government lead on borders. I remind Mr Marles, the deputy leader of the Labor Party, that there is a national COVID hot spot definition that National Cabinet has agreed on. So Mr Marles should stop criticising his Labor premiers and perhaps let National Cabinet do their job.

QUESTION:

We’ve heard this morning that these vaccination certificates will be able to be brought up quite easily on phones as well.

MINISTER ROBERT:          

That’s right. You can go right now to your Medicare app, to myGov, and access your vaccination certificate right now. That is operational now. We will continue to build that certificate out over the coming weeks to make it more easily accessible, but the capability is live now. We are ready now for the vaccine rollout.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

MINISTER ROBERT:

I will let the Health Minister deal with questions of health. But it is important that Australians know that before any vaccine is approved for use it goes through the world’s most thorough testing regime through the Therapeutic Goods Administration. TGA has given provisional approval for the Pfizer vaccine which the Prime Minister has said will roll out from the end of February, and the intent being that the nation will be vaccinated by the end of October. And Australians can have absolute assurance of the robust processes that the TGA undertakes on any vaccine approval.

QUESTION: 

And would you anticipate people will have to show these certificates, will it be for dining at places, travel? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

When it comes to workplace laws, they’re generally the purview of the states and territories. We’d be expecting them to issue public health orders if they see fit. So I will leave that to the states and territories. What’s important that the Federal Government does is provide a record of vaccination to Australians should the need to be there for Australians to use it. And Australians need to have that record, especially, depending on state public health orders, but also when travelling and borders open up again.

QUESTION:

Thank you. Just following on that, on the states issuing public health orders, what sort of scope is there, though? Do you anticipate we’d get to a point where you’d need to show the certificate to go into a nursing home or a hospital? And where does the line get drawn? Are we going to need it to go to a restaurant or a supermarket?

MINISTER ROBERT:

When it comes to public health orders, the states will determine that and I will leave it to state premiers and health ministers to roll out the public health orders as and when they see fit. The Attorney-General is working with unions and other interested parties looking at the issue as well, so there will be greater announcements made by states and territories in due course, I’m sure. But the key things for Australians to know is: they will have a record, they will have a digital and paper certificate. For some 89 per cent of Australians that have a smartphone, they will be able to access that digital certificate in their smartphone, download it onto their phone as a permanent record. They will be able to print it out and, of course, they can always contact Services Australia by phone or popping in and getting that printed out for them. So every Australian will have a record of the vaccination should they need it.

QUESTION:

You’re not going to stop the states from putting in orders just for everyday sort of things like going to the supermarket? That is an option that’s on the table?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Right now the states and territories are responsible for their public health orders and they’ll determine that as they go, and the Industrial Relations Minister is working with interested parties.

QUESTION:

Hi Minister, thanks for your time. Just in terms of how this might work when international travel is allowed. [Indistinct] prove when Australians do travel overseas that they have received a jab and that certificate will be accepted by other countries?

MINISTER ROBERT:

There’s still a range of decisions for governments to make. It’s highly likely that a vaccination certificate or quarantine will still be required for international visitors to Australia. And we’ll continue to work with our international counterparts on exactly how we have a framework for vaccination certificates. There’s a range of applications now that are being looked at including IBM, Clear, CommonPass, through the international travel authorities. We’ll continue to work with them to get a framework. But importantly, for Australians, they can have assurance that the certificate they will have will be robust, it will be anchored to them, so they will know it’s their certificate, and it will be widely accepted.

QUESTION:

Do you see international borders opening any sooner now that we have these certificates and this process in place?

MINISTER ROBERT:

I’ll leave any commentary on international borders to the Prime Minister, but any requirement for borders to open up will require vaccination and it will require the widespread use of assured certificates. And that’s what we’re talking about today, the Australian assured certificate that Australians can have enormous confidence in, and as we move through this year, the confidence in vaccinations and the confidence in an associated paper-based or digital certificate will be really, really important. Australians can have enormous confidence that the digital certificate or the paper-based certificate they have will be robust, assured, and will be able to meet all the needs that Australians may need.

Tremendous, thanks very much.

Page last updated: 7 February 2021