Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID 19: Vaccination
I thank the member for the question. The reference to 'not a race' was first said by Professor Brendan Murphy, the Secretary of the Department of Health and chair of the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group, and I affirm his remarks. I affirm the remarks of the secretary of health because all the way through this pandemic our government, the governments around the country and, indeed, governments in other countries, have always been mindful of the expert advice informing the decisions we have taken. That reference was made by the secretary and it was affirmed by me in a way that was consistent in the way I have always considered very carefully the advice provided by Professor Murphy. If those opposite want to play politics with the advice provided by our medical experts and seek to call into question the references made by the secretary of health—
Honourable members interjecting—
The Prime Minister will pause for a second. From memory, there may have been a weekend since our last question time, but my attitude has not abated. I need to be able to hear the questions and the answers. When those interjecting wildly do so, it makes it difficult for me to do that. I'm not going to allow that to occur. Members will not interject or they'll be ejected. The Prime Minister has the call.
I share the view of the Chair of the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group, Professor Brendan Murphy. I share his view. The question for those opposite is: why do they call into question the advice provided to the government?
On direct relevance: the question asked the Prime Minister whether he'll take responsibility for his own words. You can't just flick past that and say, 'Reframe the question. Oh, Labor is wanting to criticise someone else.' He is the one who said it. The question asked him whether he would take responsibility for it.
Well, thank you, Mr Speaker. I do stand by my words and my words were based on the expert advice of the Chair of the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group, Professor Brendan Murphy. But he wasn't alone. Queensland Health is also quoted on 3 March 2021 as saying that this is 'not a race'. That was from Queensland Health on their own Twitter feed. So it was the medical advice using that terminology at that time. I listened to the medical advice. Those opposite may want to call into question the advice provided by our medical experts such as Professor Murphy, but I certainly will not. Those opposite cannot run away from the imputation they have put into this place, right here and now, calling into question the judgement of Professor Murphy.
I seek leave to table a document with quotes from the Prime Minister during a Today show interview on 11 March saying it's 'not a race'; from 14 March at a doorstop in Castle Hill, with the Prime Minister saying it's 'not a race'; and a 31 March 2021 press conference in Adelaide, with the Prime Minister saying it's 'not a race'.
Mr Speaker, he can table that, and I will table from 10 March, the day before those comments were made, the comments of Professor Murphy, the chair of the scientific and technical advisory group on immunisation, saying this is not a race. So, Mr Speaker, I affirm again, in addition to my earlier answer, in adding to my remarks, that the position taken by the government and by me as Prime Minister is informed by Professor Murphy—