House debates

Monday, 15 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Transport Industry: COVID-19 Vaccine

2:15 pm

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the vaccine and how this will be critical to the Morrison-McCormack government in building a stronger Australia?

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lyne for his question. I acknowledge his work as a health professional, not just in the past but ongoing, and his interest in these matters. I acknowledge the transport companies within his electorate and the fine job they do, particularly for regional Australia.

After a long 14 months of dealing with COVID-19 across the nation, we've now reached a point where we can start to vaccinate Australians. We sympathise with the 909 families across the nation who have lost a loved one through COVID-19. James Kwan lost his life on 1 March in Perth last year. He was the first person to lose their life through COVID-19 in Australia. We continue to mourn for all those families who have lost a loved one.

Compared to other nations across the world, what we have been able to achieve as a nation has been quite remarkable. I thank all Australians for the efforts they have gone to in complying with best medical advice—for wearing masks when asked to do so, for social distancing and for quarantining. Those things have been very difficult for their lives and livelihoods. I thank them very much, as all members of the parliament do.

The commencement of administering the COVID vaccine will be a historic day, as we begin to look forward to a future beyond COVID and some sort of normality beyond this global pandemic. The Australian government is placing great stock in making sure that we've got the right strategy when it comes to the vaccine rollout. The rollout of the vaccine across Australia is going to be one of the largest logistical tasks ever undertaken by this nation. Just yesterday, I was in Western Sydney with the member for Parkes, the Minister for Regional Health, as well as the CEO of the DHL supply chain, Saul Resnick. We were looking at the protocols DHL have in place for this large logistical exercise. We were looking at the cold stores. We were talking about how the vaccine will be rolled out across Australia. It's a big country, and this is a massive task, but we will absolutely get it done. And the important thing is that regional and rural Australia will not be left behind. They will get the vaccine, just like the people in metropolitan Australia will. Certainly, they will be able to get that jab as soon as anybody in metropolitan Australia. The government is working with both DHL and Linfox to ensure cold chain and supply to all Australians, including those in every far-flung nook and cranny of this nation.

The government is working with state and territory governments, primary health networks, general practices, Aboriginal community controlled health services and general practitioner led respiratory clinics. And I know the role that the Minister for Health and the Minister for Regional Health have played in this exercise to ensure appropriate coverage across all Australians. It has been so important. I urge and encourage all Australians to get that jab to help their own health and to help their economic recovery.