Albanese doubles down on vaccine criticism

Anthony Albanese says the government is trying to use figures to spin its way out of a mess.
Anthony Albanese says the government is trying to use figures to spin its way out of a mess.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has accused the government of trying to spin its way out of a crisis and deflect blame over Victoria's fourth lockdown.

Five new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the state on Friday, taking the outbreak - sparked by a hotel quarantine breach in South Australia - to 35 cases.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino is among many pointing the finger at the federal government, saying a successful vaccine rollout and fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities may have changed Victoria's fate.

Health Minister Greg Hunt spent Friday rejecting the criticisms.

The vaccine scheme so far is an "extraordinary achievement", he said, and 20 per cent of the country's adult population will soon have received at least one dose.

However Mr Albanese said that's a milestone the government had hoped to reach in March.

"They've used those figures to try and spin their way out of this mess," he told reporters on Saturday.

"(But) the truth is that in areas of the rollout people ... who were supposed to be at the front of the queue ... haven't received the vaccine yet.

"They haven't even rolled out category 1a."

Only 500,000 people - about two per cent of the population - have been fully vaccinated with two doses.

Mr Hunt denied some people were waiting to get vaccinated because the federal government had given them the impression there was no rush, and said it didn't need to incentivise vaccination as has been done overseas.

"The strongest reason (to get the vaccine) is to avoid ... the lottery of COVID and avoid the lottery of death," he told reporters on Friday.

Mr Albanese on Saturday also condemned the government's defence of hotel quarantine.

"Scott Morrison speaks about the success rate. What he doesn't say is that with every failure, there are very serious consequences - for health, for our economy and for people being able to go about their lives," he said.

Given they "failed dismally" to protect Victoria, Mr Albanese added, the government must introduce financial support for people during the lockdown - the first being undertaken without the support of the JobKeeper scheme.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley on Saturday refused to speculate whether the lockdown - which is forecast to cost the state $1 billion - would be extended, but said authorities are "getting close on the heels" of the outbreak.

The strict measures have sparked anti-restriction rallies.

There were multiple injuries and 14 arrests when about 150 people gathered in the CBD to protest against the lockdown.

Two police officers sustained minor injuries during the arrest of six protesters in Victoria Street, North Melbourne.

One of the alleged offenders was also injured during the incident.

A total 55 people were issued penalty notices in relation to breaching directions.

"Those who choose to blatantly disregard the CHOs directions and put the health and safety of all Victorians in jeopardy can expect to be held accountable and fined," Victoria Police said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press