Scott Morrison has offered a personal apology to the families of hundreds of Aussies who have died from COVID-19, as calls grow for answers.
Scott Morrison has offered a personal apology to the families of hundreds of Aussies who have died from COVID-19, as calls grow for answers.

‘We’re sorry’: PM begs for understanding

Scott Morrison has offered a personal apology to the families of hundreds of elderly residents who have died from COVID-19 in aged care as calls mount for the Prime Minister to take responsibility for the mess.

Promising "straight talk" to Australians, he warned anyone offering guarantees on the coronavirus pandemic was not being truthful with voters.

"There'll be no lack of commitment or effort. But guarantees in a global pandemic, if someone's offering them to you - then they're not being straight with you," he said.

"So I'm going to be straight with you. That's where we're at. We're moving heaven and earth, as a country, at the moment, to ensure that we can deal with this. And we're in the fight. And we're going to win it. It's just going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort."

During the press conference, the Prime Minister was challenged by the Seven Network's political correspondent Mark Riley about claims raised at the aged care royal commission that there was no plan for the aged-care sector and that none of the challenges were unforeseeable.

"Isn't this a gross failure of governance of your government?" the PM was asked.

The Prime Minister responded with an apology for any failings of the government as it battled a once-in-a-century pandemic.

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The PM has apologised for any failings of the government as it battles the COVID-10 pandemic. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
The PM has apologised for any failings of the government as it battles the COVID-10 pandemic. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

"Every day, every effort is being made and on those days that we fall short, we're sorry," the Prime Minister said.

"And the next day we get up and we seek to make it right the next day."

The Prime Minister said everyday the Morrison Government was working to improve outcomes and "we're doing everything we can".

"On the days that the system falls short, on the days that expectations are not met, I'm deeply sorry about that, of course I am," he said.

"And I know that everyone who is involved in the process who is trying to meet those expectations is equally sorry."

However, the PM challenged the idea that the assertion there was no plan for aged care was a finding of the royal commission.

"The royal commission has not found what you've just said. That is not a royal commission finding. That is a statement that has been made by the Counsel Assisting," Mr Morrison said.

"So that is not a finding of the royal commission. That is a position that has been asserted. People can make those assertions. I think that's fair enough."

But he insisted political leaders could not offer any guarantees.

"There'll be no lack of commitment or effort. But guarantees in a global pandemic, if someone's offering them to you - then they're not being straight with you," he said.

"So I'm going to be straight with you. That's where we're at. We're moving heaven and earth, as a country, at the moment, to ensure that we can deal with this. And we're in the fight. And we're going to win it. It's just going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort."

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Mr Morrison said once the outbreak was causing community transmission in Melbourne there was always the risk it would get into aged care facilities.

"I mean, COVID-19 broke out in Melbourne," he said.

"It has got into meat packing plants, it has got into pharmacies, it has got into distribution centres. It has got into hospitals. It has got into aged-care facilities. That's what happens with a pandemic. There is not some special force field around aged-care facilities."

Acting chief medical Paul Kelly said it was not correct to suggest there was no plan put in place for aged care.

"I want to stress, as the PM has done, we are learning as we go through this process. It doesn't mean we haven't got a plan," he said.

"We do have plans. We have very detailed plans for aged care, in particular. And since the very beginning of this issue - even before it started in Australia, we've been meeting virtually daily and we've had over 170 meetings now of the AHPPC on almost every occasion, we've talked about aged care and the particular issues of vulnerable people, and particularly in the case of our aged members of our community. There have been very detailed, specific operational plans for dealing with aged-care outbreaks and for preparing to those and ways to prevent them since the middle of March and those plans are working in many ways."

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Acting CMO Paul Kelly said it was incorrect to suggest there was no plan in place to combat the pandemic in aged care. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
Acting CMO Paul Kelly said it was incorrect to suggest there was no plan in place to combat the pandemic in aged care. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

Mr Morrison also noted that some of the decisions to stand down the entire workforce at facilities including St Basil's in Melbourne had caused distress.

"On days where workforces are completely stripped from facilities and there is nobody there and you scramble for a workforce to try to put them in place and you have ADF officers who go there at 11:00 at night to try to clean up the mess, that's not good enough," he said.

"But they are the actions we had to take to stabilise those facilities in those situations. So, each and every day there are going to be challenges, and on many days, the success in how they are able to deal with these challenges has been significant.

"And so they are the good days, but other days are not as good, and that's the simple honesty that I'm offering to the Australian people on that. Of course we're sorry about that, of course we're devastated by it.

"There are no absolute guarantees in a global pandemic. There are no absolute assurances that can be provided.

"I said that back in March of this year and even earlier. 2020 was going to be the hardest year of our lives. And so it is proving to be - 2020 was going to be the hardest year of our lives. And so it is proving to be."

Originally published as 'We're sorry': PM begs for understanding

Mr Morrison noted the decision to stand down the entire workforce at St Bail’s Home for the Aged had caused distress. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Mr Morrison noted the decision to stand down the entire workforce at St Bail’s Home for the Aged had caused distress. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

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