Senate debates

Monday, 23 March 2020

Questions without Notice

Coronavirus

2:24 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator McKim for that question. We are absolutely focused on making sure that we protect the health of all Australians and all those who are in Australia. We have released a $2.4 billion health package to ensure our world-class health system is as well prepared as it can be, in the circumstances, and has the resources to fight COVID-19 and protect Australians, but this is a pretty challenging situation. That is why we are being so adamant that people need to comply with the restrictions that have been put in place by the national cabinet. That is why we're so adamant that every single Australian has a civic duty to do the right thing by their fellow Australians and by all here in Australia to help us slow down the spread of the virus. We're not able to stop the spread of this virus, but we have to slow it down so that we can ensure that our health system is in the best possible—least bad—position to deal with the pressures that are undoubtedly coming our way.

In relation to ventilators, Australians should be assured our health system is well placed to respond to this pandemic. We have a sufficient number of ventilators in our hospitals at the moment, and the states also have processes to convert existing equipment into ventilators and purchase new ventilators. We're also working to secure further supply and increase domestic production as the virus peaks. The Australian government is currently working with local manufacturers and medical professionals to understand capacity and support an increase in production of ventilators.

If we need to further boost the $2.4 billion additional allocation that we have already made, we will, of course, do so. This is an evolving situation. We're working with state and territory governments to ensure that we continue to review all of the data, information and advice in front of us to continue to make decisions to put us in the best possible position to respond.

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