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23 Oct 2020 21:52
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    Scott Morrison urges sharing of COVID-19 vaccine in his United Nations speech

    In a video-link to the UN General Assembly, the Prime Minister tells the member states they have a "moral responsibility" to share COVID-19 vaccines.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison told members of the United Nations they have a "moral responsibility" to share any effective vaccine for COVID-19 with the world or face judgement from humanity.

    The Prime Minister spoke this morning via video-link to the UN General Assembly, which is being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    "Whoever finds the vaccine must share it. This is a global responsibility, and it's a moral responsibility, for a vaccine to be shared far and wide," Mr Morrison said.

    "Some might see short-term advantage, or even profit. I assure you to anyone who may think along those lines, humanity will have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge."

    He added that Australia has pledged to share with the world any discoveries made in its three local COVID-19 vaccine trials.

    "If we find the vaccine we will share it. That's the pledge we all must make," he said.

    The Australian Government has spent $6 million to help fund the research and development of potential vaccines from the Doherty Institute, the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the University of Sydney.

    Morrison defends Australian-led efforts for WHO investigation in China

    The Prime Minister also said there is a "clear mandate" for Australian-led efforts to push for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

    "Australia strongly advocated for this review … to identify the zoonotic source of the COVID-19 virus and how it was transmitted to humans," he said.

    "This virus has inflicted a calamity on our world and its peoples. We must do all we can to understand what happened for no other purpose than to prevent it from happening again."

    Despite its initial objections, China ultimately agreed to co-sponsor the resolution at the World Health Assembly in May this year, calling for an independent review into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

    In July, a team of World Health Organisation investigators travelled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the presumed epicentre for the novel coronavirus.

    The WHO probe came amid worsening relations between China and Australia, which saw Beijing impose tariffs on Australian barley, bans on some Australian beef, restrictions on coal and an investigation into wine.

    "As we try to control the spread of COVID-19, we also need to shine a spotlight on the dangers of disinformation," the Prime Minister said.

    "Disinformation costs lives, and creates a climate of fear and division."

    The Prime Minister also delivered pointed comments about China's heavily contested territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific, without mentioning the super-power by name.

    "We value rules that protect sovereignty, peace and security, and curb the excessive use of power," he said.

    "This includes ensuring that competing territorial and maritime claims are based on, and determined in line with, international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."

    In a letter to the United Nations in July, Australia formerly declared Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea had "no legal basis" and were "inconsistent" with international law.

    A UN General Assembly like no other

    The UN General Assembly was forced online because of the difficulties in arranging overseas travel during the pandemic.

    New York also requires all international visitors arriving in the city to quarantine for 14 days.

    The US President Donald Trump, China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin have all delivered their speeches via video link.

    Mr Trump praised his handling of the pandemic within the US, and accused Beijing of "allowing flights to leave China and infect the world".

    China's President Xi Jinping defended his country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    He also announced that China aims to see CO2 emissions "peak" before 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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