Senate debates

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

COVID-19: Vaccination, JobKeeper Payment

3:39 pm

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services (Senator Colbeck) and the Minister for Finance (Senator Birmingham) to questions without notice asked by Senators Dodson and O'Neill today.

I wish to talk about the vaccine rollout. There's a lot of concern in the community, and that concern is centred on a number of issues to do with the vaccine rollout that has been badly handled by this government. We've had issues around overdosing, we've had issues around training and we've had issues around storage. And today, as I understand it, we've had issues with the launch of the booking system. Unfortunately, this seems to be par for the course for this government. It has been a confused, slow and uneven rollout of the COVID vaccination program across Australia and in my home state of Tasmania.

I think everyone would remember when the Prime Minister promised that four million Australians would be vaccinated by the end of March this year. We know that over 160,000 vaccinations have been done, but we're a long way off four million. Senator Colbeck, in his response to Senator Dodson, did not respond at all to the question that was asked of him about the Prime Minister's commitment to Australians around vaccinations. To be completely fair to the Prime Minister, it did then morph into a commitment that four million would be vaccinated by the end of April. And then that commitment disappeared altogether. There have been commitments for six million vaccinations by 10 May and even 11 million by the end of May. If the rollout in Tasmania is anything to go by, the government is a long, long way from delivering on these commitments. The problem is that, despite months of planning, the systems to deliver the vaccine programs are still not in place.

I just want to go to the announcement that was made today and have a look at the electorate of Lyons. In Tasmania, there have been 36 GP clinics announced; in the electorate of Lyons, there have been only five. Now, Lyons contains 12 municipalities, and six of them have been left off the vaccination map. The government expects people living in the Derwent Valley, the southern midlands, Glamorgan and Spring Bay, Tasman, the central highlands and Kentish to travel considerable distances to get vaccinated—and of course that's if they can get an appointment and if the GP clinic has any available vaccine.

I've already spoken about booking through the national booking system. We've already heard the issues around the system not standing up. There have been some website errors. I hope that the system stands up to the demand and doesn't suffer from the same fate as many of the other platforms that this government has run in the past, because they don't have a very good track record. I hope it does stand up, despite the early reports this afternoon, because it simply would not be good enough for the booking system to not be able to handle the demand.

For the older people living on the Tasman Peninsula and on the east coast, their nearest GP clinics are in Sorell and St Helens, which are 90 minutes away. The government have really done a very bad job with the vaccinations rollout. They've substantially overpromised and overcommitted. They have had one issue after another. As I said, they've had the overdosing; they've had the lack of training. They really need to get their act together because people— (Time expired)


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