House debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Constituency Statements

Lalor Electorate: COVID-19

4:19 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I want to use this constituency statement to speak directly to the people I represent in this place. Our community was hard hit by the 2020 COVID winter. We had 67 deaths in local aged-care settings. There were over 2,500 cases of COVID, the highest of any local government area in Melbourne. Of course, we endured three lockdowns due to breaches of hotel quarantine, two of which were from other states, and we're still enduring.

Luckily, this time through, we have no cases locally. That doesn't mean people aren't haunted by every announcement, by every new exposure site that's named. It doesn't mean people aren't grieving again for people they grieved for last year. And now our nation's three biggest cities are dealing with outbreaks. This is down to our Prime Minister's bungling of the two jobs he had this year: a speedy, effective rollout of vaccines and fit-for-purpose quarantine. He has failed on both. We have been in this pandemic for more than a year and the Prime Minister still can't get quarantine right and still can't get vaccines right. There is just no excuse anymore for the Prime Minister's failure to step up and do his job, his failure to take responsibility and take action on vaccines, quarantine and aged care. But this is a Prime Minister who refuses to take responsibility. He doesn't 'hold a hose'; he says 'it's not a race'. He's only interested in saying whatever it takes to score political points and live through the next day. In the meantime, working families are paying the price for his failure to act and failure to plan. Even now, we don't really know the plan for the way out.

But tonight I want to remind my community that someone does have a plan. The Leader of the Opposition and the opposition have a plan. It's simple. Hotels were built for tourists, not return travellers who are carrying a deadly virus. That's why Labor would build dedicated quarantine facilities in every state and territory. There have been 24 leaks from quarantine—none from Howard Springs, purpose built. We'll also fix the failed vaccine rollout. Only 3.1 per cent of our population has been vaccinated. Seventy per cent of New Yorkers are vaccinated and they've returned to normal life. What we need to do is get on with this plan. Part of our plan is a public information campaign. We saw millions of dollars get spent advertising the COVID app that failed. But this government is yet to deliver on that. Nor is it delivering on creating mRNA vaccines in this country.