Minister defends budget vaccine assumption

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has defended the controversial decision to base budget forecasts on the availability of a coronavirus vaccine.

Tuesday’s federal budget will be built on the assumption a vaccine is made available next year, despite warnings the drug may not be effective or widespread enough to bring the economy back to normal.

Senator Cormann said there was a strong likelihood of a vaccine at some stage in 2021.

“A vaccine is entirely material when it comes to our future economic fortunes,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“We are basing our assumptions and our estimates on the best available advice and information at a particular point in time.”

The budget numbers will be blown out of the water if a vaccine does not come to fruition.

Senator Cormann on Friday released $808.8 million to the health department for initial payments to vaccine developers in Australia and overseas.

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