Wednesday, 3 February 2021
Statements on Indulgence
Mr Speaker, I respect the rulings that you've made in relation to matters that have been raised today by the opposition. But, on indulgence, I'll just say the following about matters that have been addressed here today. A key principle of the successful response of our government, and the state and territory governments with whom I work, to the pandemic—a principle that I have applied with the chairing of the federal cabinet, the National Security Committee of Cabinet and the national cabinet—has been respect for the expert medical advice that has guided our response and the institutions that have the responsibility under our system for providing that advice.
It is true that views expressed by the member for Hughes do not align with my views or the advice that has been provided to me by the Chief Medical Officer. Earlier today, the member for Hughes and I discussed these matters, and I made it very clear that that was the view of me, as Prime Minister, and, of course, the view of the government. Vaccination is critical. It is our primary responsibility this year as we continue to respond to the pandemic. I welcome the statement, which I table, that was issued by the member for Hughes following our meeting. Our job is to get on with the job of the vaccine. The Therapeutic Goods Administration is the authoritative body not just in this country; it is respected around the world. So I can say to Australians—indeed, for the same reason that I and members of this place will take our own children and our own parents to get that all-important vaccine—that our Therapeutic Goods Administration and the medical advice that guides my government's policy on the pandemic is the best in the world.
I welcome the belated statements of the Prime Minister in distancing himself from the comments of the member for Hughes. The comments of the member for Hughes have been dangerous—
An honourable member: Which ones!
We have a limited time on indulgence! But, in particular, it was the comments with regard to health, the use of hydroxychloroquine and the use of other drugs that have not been in accordance with the advice of the TGA or the advice of the Chief Medical Officer. Those have been of great concern. It is something that we on this side of the House have raised—particularly the former shadow minister for health, the current shadow minister for health and myself as leader—for a period of many months.
The challenge of the pandemic requires us to absolutely have faith and confidence in our institutions. We on this side—as the Prime Minister has said himself; I know the minister for health has said it a number of times as well—have faith in and we should be very proud of the role that the TGA plays in this country. As we respond to this crisis, it is absolutely vital that all of us who have the privilege of being in leadership positions show leadership in the information which we put forward to the community. We've said throughout this crisis, 'We're all in this together.' It needs to be more than a slogan; it needs to be a method of action as well. And that requires responsible leadership from every parliamentarian.
I hope that today sees an end to the information, or disinformation, from the member for Hughes. I haven't had the opportunity to see the statement that was just tabled by the Prime Minister. I hope as well that the member for Hughes calls into question and distances himself from statements about the attacks on the US Capitol. I think it is extraordinary that a member of parliament, any member of parliament, would justify that action by right-wing insurrectionists—
The Leader of the Opposition has now moved on to a separate topic. Before we move to the next matter, I say to the House that the statement by the Prime Minister and the statement by the Leader of the Opposition on indulgence granted by the chair does show that the parliament can discuss matters; it just has to do it at the right time.