House debates

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Constituency Statements

COVID-19: Vaccines

10:03 am

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In this constituency statement today I would like to talk about an industry that is centred in Bennelong and is possibly our most important industry in Australia today. It is fighting the good fight, keeping us safe and operating right at the cutting edge of our technological advances. It is the pharmaceutical industry, and it is based on 'Pill Hill' in the heart of Bennelong. The company on everybody's lips is AstraZeneca, the last drug manufacturer in Macquarie Park and designer of one of the most promising candidates for the first COVID vaccine to hit our shores.

I was delighted to join the Prime Minister there a few months ago to announce the exciting news that Australia would be receiving this vaccine once it is ready, and we all hope this will be very soon. But while AstraZeneca is stealing the limelight, there are other drug companies that are catching up. Remdesivir is made by local company Gilead and is making global headlines for keeping thousands of people alive, including President Trump. But then there are hundreds of other pharmaceutical companies working on vaccines or treatments for COVID that are still being developed or going through trials. In fact, I doubt there is a healthcare company in the world that isn't pulling their weight in working to beat this virus.

Up and down Macquarie Park, there's Sanofi to MSD at one end, Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer and Ingelheim at the other, and even the too-cool-for-Macquarie Park gang, Eli Lilly, down at West Ryde. Everyone is working on the vaccine—often together, symbolising the collaborative approach that echoes the way we are all pulling together in these uncertain times. Apologies to the companies that I have not mentioned. This is a three-minute speech and there are too many of you. But you know who you are and how grateful we are.

We also have newcomers to the area. I was delighted to be joined by my friend and colleague the member for Wentworth at the opening of the newest innovator, Aegros. This new company is the leader in convalescent plasma—a sort of vaccine light. By working with plasma from people who have recovered from COVID, they should be able to give short-term immunity for around three months to front-line health workers and other high-risk professionals. They're going through TGA trials now but, as soon as the final hurdle is cleared, they have manufacturing ready to go in Bennelong. We look forward to seeing great things from our new locals.

On behalf of all Bennelongians and indeed all Australians, I would like to say thank you to our pharmaceuticals sector. Thank you for keeping us safe and thank you for continuing the fight for a vaccine and treatment that can save our lives and bring back some sort normality to this crazy world.