House debates

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Questions without Notice


3:05 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Will the minister please update the House on how Australian scientists and researchers are contributing to the global effort to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus? How is the Morrison government backing these efforts?

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for her question. I acknowledge the very significant contribution she has made to medical and scientific research and congratulate her for her efforts.

The safety and security of all Australians is the Morrison government's No. 1 priority, and we understand that there is a very real concern in our community about the outbreak of coronavirus. Parents are talking with their children, there are discussions happening around the kitchen table and we are all very, very concerned about the ways to best deal with protecting those who are most vulnerable in our community from this very serious illness. This very serious illness has some significant implications for individuals, for our health services, for our border services and, of course, for trade and industry. And that's why it's so very important that we work as hard and fast as we can to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of this very serious illness.

People around the globe turned to Australian researchers with this because we are clearly world leading. Australia's premier research organisation, the CSIRO, is working to develop this vaccine as soon as it possibly can. We've done this before. The CSIRO developed the world's first effective flu treatment and a vaccine for the Hendra virus. We were at the forefront of the study into SARS.

Many members would be aware that, last week, the University of Queensland announced that their researchers have developed a promising potential vaccine for coronavirus. This vaccine is now at the CSIRO's state-of-the-art production facility in Melbourne, and our researchers are currently testing it with a view to upscaling it to production if it's suitable. At the CSIRO's high-tech animal research laboratory in Geelong, researchers continue to grow the virus and work to better understand it. That facility is the most sophisticated high-containment laboratory in the world, which means we can safely research the most lethal of diseases.

Because our government has taken a responsible and balanced approach to managing our budget, we are able to deliver a bigger investment in our science and research organisations. All Australians can be assured that their safety and security are the No. 1 priority of the coalition government.