The Queensland government says a plan to offer footy tickets to people getting the COVID jab only became an issue when the prime minister’s office flagged it.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has accused the prime minister’s office of backgrounding journalists against a plan to offer free NRL finals tickets to people getting vaccinated.
The NRL has offered 3000 double passes to Queenslanders getting vaccinated against COVID-19 on Thursday and Friday to help the state government encourage more uptake.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath’s office did not check Therapeutic Goods Administration guidelines, which state that only people who are fully vaccinated could be offered gifts, before announcing the initiative.
When questioned about the guidelines on Thursday, Ms D’Ath came out swinging at Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the TGA saying it was “bureaucracy gone mad”.
She said Mr Morrison had promised to get TGA guidelines changed so people getting their first jab could be offered incentives on July 6.
The TGA issued new guidelines on Friday morning, saying gifts could be offered to people partially vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Whether the offer is to be made for first or full vaccination is a decision for the organisation offering the incentive,” the TGA said in a statement.
Mr Miles said the initiative only became an issue after the prime minister’s office told journalists it was against the TGA guidelines.
He said it was “truly bizarre” that the prime minister’s office would try to sabotage a plan to get more people vaccinated.
“The prime minister’s office’s campaign against Queensland and Queenslanders has got truly bizarre yesterday, it jumped the shark,” Mr Miles told reporters on Friday.
“You know, the TGA came out last night and said they never had a problem with it,” he said.
“The prime minister’s office was out briefing that there was a TGA guideline against it.”
Mr Miles admitted that TGA guidelines were “very serious” and no one wanted to breach them, but he couldn’t explain why the health minister’s office failed to check before announcing the tickets initiative.
“I understand she (Ms D’Ath) was responding to media inquiries, and you were all there yesterday, so you’re probably better placed to respond to that,” he told reporters.
The federal government has been in contact with the NRL to assure that anyone who receives a vaccine – regardless of whether it is their first or second dose – is in the running for tickets.
Mr Miles said the whole episode was another example of the federal government undermining the state’s public health measures.
“It’s the kind of thing we’ve been dealing with all along, this constant undermining from the federal government, when all we’re trying to do is keep Queenslanders safe,” he added.
“In this case, a fantastic positive campaign to get Queenslanders vaccinated.”
So far 3000 tickets are on offer for two finals games in Brisbane this weekend, with 2000 available for Friday’s match between Manly and South Sydney and 1000 for Saturday’s preliminary final between Melbourne and Penrith.
Anyone who receives their first or second jab at the Boondall or Logan Entertainment Centre, the Mt Warren Park vaccine hub or the new Pinkenba mass vaccination centre are eligible for the tickets.