Monday, 15 February 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID 19: Vaccines
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House about the latest developments in the Morrison government's COVID-19 vaccination strategy and how the rollout of safe, effective and free vaccines will underpin our continued recovery from the pandemic?
I thank the member for Swan for his question. This is an historic day for Australia. As the health minister has just confirmed outside this place, I can confirm that Australia's first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines has arrived. The vaccines have touched down in Australia—142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Sydney around midday today.
Free and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is this government's policy, and it is in delivery. One of the largest logistical exercises ever undertaken in this country has been planned for and is now underway. We have been building this vaccine portfolio—onshore manufacturing capability, the workforce, the cold chain logistics, the vaccination locations—working together with our medical experts, state and territory governments around the country to ensure the effective implementation of this critically important program for our country.
This program has been developed by medical experts and approved by medical experts, so Australians can have confidence in the Australian vaccination strategy. The Therapeutic Goods Administration is final testing the Pfizer vaccine this week, and the government's total support across our vaccine program now amounts to some $6½ billion with an initial allocation of around $1.9 billion for the rollout of that vaccine.
People who need to get the protection first will get it first—the most vulnerable in our community, those working in those critical areas is where the vaccination strategy begins. But also I note that this is just the start of the process. I visited with the health minister last Friday in Melbourne the CSL installation where they're doing the final stages of the Australian production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, some 50 million doses. In August of last year we took the decision not to leave ourselves vulnerable to international supply chains and to ensure that we had the Australian sovereign capability to actually produce these vaccines here in Australia. We had the opportunity to thank those Australians who have been working around the clock for many months at CSL to ensure that the domestic production of those vaccines is available right here in Australia to ensure the success of our vaccination strategy. This will play a key role in continuing to restore confidence in not just the community but also the building and growing confidence that exists in our economy. It has always been our objective both to saves lives and save livelihoods, and the successful implementation and development of that vaccination strategy are there to see.