PM hints at punishments for virus rebels
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is "disappointed" with the number of Victorians living in COVID-19 hot spots who have refused testing and suggested harsher measures be taken "to ensure we keep everybody safe".
Speaking on the Today show on Wednesday morning, Mr Morrison said the latest outbreak in Melbourne was being dealt with "the Australian way", with the use of incentives to get people to comply, but if this didn't work, a more dramatic response could be necessary.
"The use of incentive - the carrot not the stick … but occasionally the stick will have to be put about, whether its fines or sanctions in place to ensure we keep everybody safe," he said.
Nearly 1000 people in Melbourne's hot spots refused to be tested when health authorities came to their doors last week, and it earlier emerged up to 30 per cent of those in hotel quarantine in Victoria were refusing testing - which led to a new policy mandating an extra 10 days in quarantine for anyone refusing a test.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister's office told NCA NewsWire any decision to fine those refusing would have to come from Premier Daniel Andrews, and the PM's discussion of fines was referring to penalties for failing to social distance or breaching lockdown orders.
The Victorian Premier could not be reached for comment but is expected to speak later today.
Mr Morrison's comments come as he announced a $270 billion war chest to upgrade Australia's defence capabilities, claiming the world is as unstable now as it was during WWII.
The funding will be used to create a larger and more loaded military, with 800 new jobs in the Australian Defence Force, a new hi-tech underwater surveillance system and upgrades to weaponry and cyber capabilities to come over the next 10 years.
Mr Morrison said the world was changing, and Australia needed to react.
"The big competition between China and the United States means tensions are much higher," he said.
"We haven't seen a time of instability, coming out of COVID-19, like this since the 1930s and early 1940s, so we need to be conscious of that.
"We need to be prepared."
Originally published as PM hints at punishments for virus rebels