House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Regional Australia

2:16 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Will the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House how the Morrison-McCormack government is rolling out COVID-19 related health services in regional Australia, including in my electorate of Dawson, and how this helps chart our Australian way out of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for McEwen will cease interjecting.

2:17 pm

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

I thank the member for Dawson for his question and acknowledge his advocacy for that electorate. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has commenced—a tremendous step forward in the next phase in reaching a new normal. It's something we all want. Yesterday we saw the first Australian to receive the vaccine, 84-year-old Jane Malysiak, being vaccinated in Castle Hill. Australians will be safer once they have been vaccinated. I implore everyone: get vaccinated, protect yourself, protect the loved ones around you, protect somebody you may not even know who you may come in contact with on a bus or a train or wherever it might be, and protect your community. Do it for yourself. Do it for Australia. As Jane Malysiak said, 'Everybody take the vaccine.'

In regional Australia 134 centres will begin to roll out the vaccine. I want to pay special tribute to the Minister for Regional Health, the member for Parkes, in making sure regional communities know not just about the importance of the vaccine but the fact they will be getting it at the same time as metropolitan centres. That is so important. About 44 per cent of the week 1 locations are in regional Australia. In the member for Dawson's electorate, Mackay, North Mackay and West Mackay will be operating as vaccine centres. Every state and territory will be included in the first tranche of the vaccine rollout.

From Orange to Alice Springs and Victor Harbor, from Bowen in the member's electorate to Burnie in Tassie, from Morwell in Victoria to Bunbury in WA, it doesn't matter where you are; we will be making sure the vaccine comes there. Make no mistake; the vaccination program in Australia will save and protect lives, and will certainly protect livelihoods as well.

The transport industry will be front and centre in the distribution of the vaccine to every corner of this country. Yesterday we communicated with Saul Resnick about the very first day. He is the CEO of DHL in Western Sydney. The member for Parkes and I saw firsthand how the vaccine will be distributed. DHL and Linfox will have a hand in the logistics of the storing and the transportation of the vaccine around Australia. This is one of the largest logistical exercises in our nation's history.

The transport industry has been vital in background support right through the global COVID-19 pandemic, from ensuring that supermarket shelves were stocked to making sure that face masks and respiratory devices and the like were delivered, particularly to regional centres. I want to thank truckies for keeping our nation moving. I want to thank them because they do it every night and every day. When we're at home in bed with the doona pulled up over our heads, the truckies are out there. They're doing a great job for Australia. They are delivering. They will continue to do so as we get the vaccines out as part of the COVID-19 recovery.