Thursday, 2 September 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Would the minister please outline to the House the importance of Australia's national plan and how sticking with the plan will support the health and the mental health of all Australians?
I want to thank the member for Moncrieff. She's been a passionate advocate for health in her electorate. Indeed, I had the privilege of visiting the TriCare aged-care facility in Mermaid Beach with her. It was a facility in which one of the maintenance staff had a positive case, but because that facility had been double vaccinated there was no transmission to any staff, on the basis of the knowledge that I have. The facility immediately put in place all of the elements for preparation in case of a potential outbreak, and those residents were protected. That was a model response to an outbreak.
More generally, when we look around the world, we see again the ravages brought by COVID-19—over 725,000 cases recorded in the last 24 hours and 23,000 lives lost. So it is fundamental that we acknowledge—as a House, as a parliament, as representatives—that this global pandemic continues and has embedded itself as endemic in so many parts of the world. It will therefore be with the world for a long time to come.
Against that background, the vaccination program is fundamental to the work that we are doing, on top of all of the other protections which we put in place. There have been 330,000 vaccinations in Australia in the last 24 hours, but critically we have reached the 20 million dose milestone, as the Prime Minister said. What that means, also, is that we have now passed over 60 per cent of all eligible Australians 16-plus with first doses. What that means, as well, is that we are now two million Australians from having 70 per cent of all eligible Australians vaccinated and four million Australians from that 80 per cent mark. That means these things are within reach. We are doing our work.
It opens up the national plan, and that is so fundamental to mental health. We all know, whether it is a small-business owner, an employee or a single parent, that the notion of being locked at home, a child unable to attend the playground or a child unable to go to school—these things can have an impact in terms of anxiety and depression. So the national plan is fundamental in two ways. It's fundamental in keeping us safe. The 80 per cent target is globally a highly conservative target. But we can get there. We're on the cusp of achieving this. At the same time it is also fundamentally about hope, about hope that families can be reunited, people can recommence their lives and, ultimately, Australia can proceed safely but with a sense of open optimism.