Senate debates

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

COVID-19: Vaccination

3:24 pm

Photo of Anthony ChisholmAnthony Chisholm (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

If you heard the contributions from those opposite during taking note of answers, you would think there's nothing wrong with the vaccine rollout. I heard Senator O'Sullivan talk about some of the questions from Labor, which we are talking about here, undermining confidence. Well, nothing would undermine the confidence of Australians more than seeing the performance of Minister Reynolds today. Nothing would undermine the confidence of Australians more than seeing the performance of Minister Colbeck over the last couple of months as well.

Sadly, I was not surprised by Minister Reynolds's performance in question time today, because I know Minister Reynolds owes her position to the Prime Minister. I think that Minister Reynolds thinks that, if you just emulate the Prime Minister's performance, that is the ticket to surviving this government. We saw a minister today in answering questions fail to take responsibility and fail to take ownership of being responsible for vaccinating those most vulnerable Australians. We have seen it from the Prime Minister down, time after time, when it comes to important issues confronting the most vulnerable Australians. If you don't take responsibility for vaccinating the most vulnerable Australians then what confidence does that give the Australian people that you're going to get it right? The vaccine rollout is too slow when you compare our performance internationally. That's something that Australians are going to have to confront over coming months.

It is disappointing that those people who work in disability care have been let down by this government. It's disappointing that those people living with a disability have been let down by this government. And it's disappointing that those Australian families and loved ones who care for a person with a disability are being let down by this government. There's a continual refusal to take responsibility for those people in aged care and those people in disability care, and it does undermine the confidence of the Australian people as a result.

On the questions that we talked about today from Senator Brown around disability-care workers, what became clear from the answers from Minister Reynolds was there is no central register. Her reason for that is that the workforce is transient. That's exactly the problem. That's where we saw the problem in aged care, particularly in Victoria. It was because people were working between various organisations as a result of the workforce. So it shows you the urgent need for having a central database so you can track who is vaccinated and where they are working as a result.

Then the minister claimed that the workforce are not required to provide proof of vaccination to their employer. Again, that's another problem that we identified. We saw what went wrong with aged care. You'd think the government would see that and act. Instead, the government saw this and are trying to avoid being responsible for it. They actually ran the other way. Rather than trying to fix these problem, they try to avoid taking any responsibility for them. Minister Reynolds looks at the Prime Minister and thinks: 'He tries to avoid any responsibility. That's the model that I'm going to replicate as a minister.' So there's no duty of care to those people that the minister is responsible for as part of her portfolio.

Then in regard to those people in disability residences, again, there was no plan. There was a refusal to commit to a date to have these people vaccinated by. Then the best the minister could do was hope that this was done as quickly as possible. So still we get the rhetoric from the government that this isn't a race. I can assure you that for those people living in disability care and for those people who have loved ones or friends in disability care they want to it be a race. They understand how important this is, particularly when the government don't get the other part of this puzzle right, which is quarantine. The government continue to avoid any responsibility for quarantine as well. So there's no wonder that Australians are frustrated but also concerned about the fact that we could get an outbreak at any second and it could have an impact on aged care or disability care. That's what concerns so many Australians.

We're being left behind internationally. The government aren't taking responsibility on these important tasks that they as the federal government have, whether it be vaccinating those people who are vulnerable or whether it be bringing in proper fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities. They continue to thumb their nose at Queenslanders in that regard. It is so disappointing that we have seen this performance from Minister Reynolds today and, again, a failure from this government to take responsibility for what the Australian people have tasked them with.

Question agreed to.


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