Senate debates

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Matters of Public Importance

COVID-19: Vaccination

4:17 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Before question time today the member for Maribyrnong proudly tweeted a photo of his second AZ shot, showing his support for this effective Australian-made vaccine. The Doherty Institute has confirmed that AstraZeneca is just as effective as Pfizer. I ask the opposition leader: is it purely a bid to create a point of difference between you and the member for Maribyrnong that you continue to withhold support for AstraZeneca? Is that why when you're asked to support this Australian-made vaccine you avoid responding, you worm and weasel your way around the question?

This is bad and irresponsible behaviour from the man who apparently aspires to put himself forward as the alternative Prime Minister of this fantastic nation, but he's not happy just feeding into this vaccine misinformation campaign; he's now out there ensuring the ALP goes to the next election with many vaccine scaremongers, misinformation merchants and, quite frankly, fantasists as candidates. With the preselection of Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah in the seat of Higgins the ALP have now confirmed what we all already knew—they are more interested in political point-scoring, driving division and wedges between Australians, and scaring vulnerable cohorts. Shame on all of you.

Of course, the absolute worst of these scaremongers and spreaders of misinformation is none other than the Queensland Chief Health Officer, who has now been rebuked by pretty much every epidemiologist in the country and, in fact, by pretty much everyone with a medical degree—so that wouldn't include some of the commentators we regularly see on the ABC. If the Queensland Premier is so wedded to reward her—a woman who has shown a complete lack of compassion at every opportunity, has divided and destroyed families, has kept them apart and has spread misinformation but has never seen a film star or a footballer she wouldn't give a special exemption to at the first opportunity—let's just make her governor now. Get her in there. Get her out of the public view. Get her out of giving information to Queenslanders about what vaccine they should get, because she clearly doesn't know what she's talking about. She is making ridiculous and, quite frankly, stupid claims.

Unlike those opposite, with all this in mind, the grown-ups are actually here working towards increasing vaccination rates because we know that's how the country will open back up. Perhaps Senator O'Neill would be better off spending her time on her internal preselection rather than bothering to spread this pathetic propaganda. For those who are actually interested in the reality of the vaccine rollout—how many jabs have actually been given to Australians—more than 12 million jabs have now been administered. We also know now that more than one million jabs are being administered into the arms of Australians every single week. So we've done 12 million to date and will be doing over one million per week going forward. But those over there are not happy.

Like every country around the world, we have had some bumps along the way because these are unprecedented times. I know those opposite have perfect 20/20 vision. Had we all listened to them when they had nothing to say—of course, they have every criticism in the world after—everything would have been great. Imagine how good things would be with the $387 billion of new taxes they wanted to introduce! Thank God they didn't get the opportunity after the last election. But every country around the world experienced a couple of bumps with the vaccine rollout. The pace picked up as it was rolled out. It was slower at the beginning, and then it continued to grow exponentially.

There were some issues. The PM has acknowledged this. He doesn't hide. He doesn't weasel his way around why he won't support AstraZeneca. The PM has actually acknowledged that there were some issues at the beginning, and some were well and truly out of our control. I realise those opposite don't acknowledge that. When Victoria had problems, that was the PM's issues, or there was no issue because it was Dan Andrews. But now that it's in New South Wales it's all Gladys's fault, and what's not Gladys's fault is Scott's fault. You guys just can't quite get it together. But we've seen these issues resolved. We've seen supply increase. There's actually an excess supply of AstraZeneca, to the point that we're sending it overseas—to the point that the Queensland chief health officer decided that she didn't even want it. They've kind of changed that position now.

AstraZeneca is available, and we have seen over 4½ million vaccinations given in July. For those that don't understand how the rollout has exponentially increased, the 4½ million vaccines that were delivered in July is more than double what was delivered in May. So there's May, then June, and then we have July, for those who weren't paying attention in school. Within those months, we saw an over-doubling of the number of vaccines being delivered, from 2.1 million to 4.5 million.

Those opposite like to talk about supply issues and stagnation in the vaccine rollout. They're fundamentally living in the past. Let's face it: they always do cling to those old days. There's the disgraceful behaviour of the chief health officers in Queensland. There are all the little cash-for-comment epidemiologists popping up on the ABC—half of them without relevant qualifications; they're not even epidemiologists—talking down AstraZeneca, and then those opposite race out to secure them as candidates. But, aside from all of that, there is no supply issue. I would say to those opposite: 'You need to stop scaring people about AstraZeneca. There's plenty available. We make it here. Why don't you support Australian jobs?'


No comments