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ScoMo concedes he hasn’t gotten ‘everything’ right on Covid-19

Scott Morrison has acknowledged he hasn’t got everything right in the pandemic as he seeks a major reset ahead of the next election.

Conceding voters are frustrated after a horror summer marked by the Omicron wave, rising deaths and shortage of rapid antigen tests, Mr Morrison said he expects to cop the blame for how things were handled.

But he stopped short of apologising to voters for perceived mistakes.

“I understand and I acknowledge the frustration, especially with how this global pandemic has played out over this past very difficult summer … You’ve had to put up with a lot,” he told the National Press Club on Tuesday.

He acknowledged worse outcomes experienced overseas did not soften the blow of what Australians had endured over January.

PM NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
Camera IconScott Morrison has refused to apologise to voters for his handling of the pandemic. NCA/ Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

“The fact that far worse outcomes have been experienced overseas – which we know – well, that gives some important perspective. But it doesn’t soften the blow.”

“It’s fair enough that this disappointment leads you to ask, ‘Couldn’t you have done more? Couldn’t this have been avoided? After all, aren’t you responsible?’

“I get that. For me as Prime Minister, accepting this responsibility means asking yourself and challenging yourself every single day with those same questions.

“And I can assure you I do. I haven’t got everything right. And I’ll take my fair share of the criticism and the blame. It goes with the job.”

Asked if he wanted to clear the air and say sorry, Mr Morrison declined.

“Do you want to take this opportunity to actually say sorry for the mistakes you’ve made as prime minister?” ABC host Laura Tingle asked.

PM NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
Camera IconMr Morrison had to be ushered in the back entrance after protesters swarmed the building. NCA/ Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

“We’re all terribly sorry for what this pandemic has done to the world and to this country,” Mr Morrison replied.

But he did concede he may have been “too optimistic” about the reopening the nation over summer, and that he wished he had brought in Lieutenant General John Frewen to run the vaccine roll out much earlier.

“I think we were too optimistic, perhaps. And we could have communicated more clearly about the risks and challenges that

we still faced,” Mr Morrison said.

“If I had my time over, I would have put it under a military operation from the outset and not later in the year … I took the decision to send in General Frewen and change the way we did it, and set up a change in the command structure, how logistics were managed, how it was

planned.

“And it worked. But I wish we’d done that earlier. And that’s a lesson.”

The Prime Minister’s address comes as he is fighting for his political life, after the latest Newspoll revealed he would face an electoral wipe-out if an election were to be held today.

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