House debates

Monday, 15 February 2021

Statements by Members

COVID-19: Vaccines

4:06 pm

Photo of Andrew LeighAndrew Leigh (Fenner, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury) Share this | | Hansard source

Across the world, 171 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been delivered, including 50 million in the US, 15 million in the UK, five million in Brazil, two million in Indonesia. Israel has delivered 72 doses per 100 people. The Prime Minister said that Australia would be 'at the front of the queue', and the health minister said that vaccination would be 'commencing in January'. But the fact is that Australia didn't strike our first vaccine deal until September 2020, six months after other nations had lined up vaccine supply for their citizens.

The delayed vaccine rollout in Australia isn't just a health issue; it's an economic issue too. Last May the Treasurer said that the lockdown of the economy was costing $4 billion a week. Tardy vaccine rollout doesn't have quite the same cost to the economy as a lockdown but must nonetheless have a massive economic impact. We cannot recover the economy in sectors like international tourism and in-person services until Australia has a high rate of vaccination. Yet the tardiness of the Morrison government has been costing Australia in health terms and in economic terms. They promised that they would be as swift as an eagle. In fact, when it comes to vaccination, they have been as slow as a turkey.