House debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Health Care

2:27 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Will the minister please outline to the House how the Morrison government's leadership and investment in our world-class healthcare system is continuing to keep Australians safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic?

2:28 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Higgins for her work not only prior to parliament but also during parliament in supporting and promoting the health of Australians in so many different ways.

This pandemic has changed the world in so many ways. One thing it has done is reinforced the strength of the Australian health system by comparison with virtually every other health system in the world. As we know, this year alone over two million people have lost their lives to COVID-19 worldwide—2.067 million people, so two million and 67,000 people officially—and inevitably, as the World Health Organization has indicated, a vastly higher number.

At the same time, the actions taken here in Australia, which the government has overseen but done in partnership with the states and territories, the Australian public and the health community, have meant that no Australian—not one—to this point in time has lost their life to COVID caught in Australia this year. That comparison, as I have mentioned before, is almost unimaginable. It is almost inconceivable that any country the size of Australia could have an outcome such as that in the midst of a global pandemic.

But many things have come together to create that outcome—in particular, the investment of over $2 billion in aged care, including the standing up of the single-site worker arrangements in affected LGAs in Sydney, commencing today under the authority of the Chief Medical Officer. It includes the fact that over $6 billion has been invested in Medicare to assist with COVID, including 60 million telehealth consultations. In our belief, and in my view, telehealth has been the most significant and important transformation in Medicare since it was founded.

In addition to that, over $7 billion has been put into vaccine rollout and vaccine acquisition across six contracts, which have been procured at different times during the course of the program. Then of course there has been $9 billion in support for hospitals and PPE. All of that has led to a situation where we are, arguably, the envy of almost any other country in the world, having seen over two million lives lost worldwide but none lost in Australia to COVID caught in Australia this year.

An incidental associated outcome is the fact that no Australian has lost their life to flu this year. In an ordinary year, on average over the last five years, 105 Australians, tragically, would have lost their lives to flu. There are none at this point in time. And 35,000 Australians would have been diagnosed with flu and, at this stage, it's approximately 350. Together, these things are saving lives and protecting lives.