Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Health Care
My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Will the minister please update the House on the extraordinary efforts of Australia manufacturers in producing critical equipment to support Australians through the coronavirus pandemic?
I thank the very fine member for Wentworth for that question. Very early on our government was hoping for the best but diligently preparing for the worst. So far the work that we have done, that we have all done, has ensured that our nation was spared the rapid increase in cases that we have seen globally. Of course, it's a long road and we are not there yet. But the work that has been done by so many people has meant that we are in a position that many of us could not have imagined we would have been in several months ago. But we cannot and we will not be complacent.
A number of months ago many Australians would not have known what PPE stood for, but personal protective equipment has now been on the frontline of our defence and it's been in the headlines right across the world. When the health minister came to me very early on and asked what we could do to ensure that we had the essential medical supplies that we needed, and that our frontline health workers in particular were protected, my mind immediately went to Australian manufacturing and to our Australian manufacturers. It's fair to say that there was a lot of scepticism at the start about whether or not Australian manufacturers would be able to meet the demands that were being put on them. But I have always had confidence in Australian manufacturing and Australian manufacturers, and I was very confident that they would be able to step up, and that's exactly what they have done.
Many of us are aware of the outstanding successes that we have achieved with the manufacture of medical masks—surgical masks—where we have increased capacity from a couple of million to over 200 million. But there's also an amazing story to be told about ventilators. We did have a manufacturer here in Australia, ResMed. My department and I have worked around the clock with them and many other manufacturers to meet the needs that we identified. ResMed have delivered 5½ thousand ventilators ahead of schedule, which is just fantastic.
Also, Victoria's Grey Innovation is leading a consortium of about 30 Australian manufacturers and they are producing 2,000 ventilators. So for those out there who didn't think that we could do this, I am very happy to say that you were wrong, because not only did we believe that we could do this, it's actually happened right across Australia. So hats off and a big thank you to Australian manufacturers. Well done to them. This is congratulations to our Australian manufacturers. I think everyone in this entire chamber should be very proud of the great work that they have done. It is a credit to our Australian manufacturers. Thank you and well done.