Senate debates

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

COVID-19: Vaccination

3:07 pm

Photo of Perin DaveyPerin Davey (NSW, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I think it's quite remarkable for Senator Watt to stand up here and talk about a handful of examples of people who are spreading misinformation or disinformation. These people are backbenchers, whereas the chief health officer of Senator Watt's own state has been key in turning people off vaccinations. Jeannette Young has been saying of 18-year-olds—the age group that is now recognised as being superspreaders because they get minimal symptoms, they are active and they need to work—that she would rather see them get COVID than get AstraZeneca. If you want to address misinformation, how about you look in your own team as well.

For Labor to get up here today—what else has happened today? Let's just think for a minute. I'm not focused on what Mr Christensen, the member for Dawson, is putting on his social media. I'm not focused on what Senator Rennick is putting on his social media.

Senator Watt interjecting—

No-one is, so why are you concerned, Senator Watt? What I am more interested in is what else has happened today. We had a significant Closing the Gap statement this morning, but Labor are more concerned about trying to score cheap political points on the vaccination rollout than actually focusing on something significant, something that means a lot to a significant portion of our population. Maybe it's because Labor are concerned that, even though they initiated the closing the gap process, which is welcome—it is a great process, born of the best intentions—to date, the process hasn't been achieving our goals. That is why our government brought together a new 10-year agreement, signed by all Australian governments. So it is not just within the purview of the Commonwealth; the Coalition of Peaks and the Australian Local Government Association are also involved, and over 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations have been involved in the process. Finally, instead of a top-down approach, we are actually involving the people most impacted by this vital policy area.

Today, Labor care only about vaccinations. Well, on this remarkable day, let's talk about the vaccination of the Indigenous population. As at 4 August, we have vaccinated over 146,000 people who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. They've received at least one dose. That's 25 per cent of the eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 16 and over. Eleven per cent of their population have received a second dose. This is quite an achievement when you consider that, earlier on in the vaccination rollout, this population was one of the most vaccine-hesitant populations.

I commend the efforts of the Aboriginal health services, which have gone to great lengths to educate and communicate with their communities and get these vaccinations into their arms. I commend the work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which has been out and about in 88 of our most remote communities and has delivered nearly 10,000 doses of vaccine. However, I come back to the overall health overview for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, because this is a very important part of closing the gap. We know that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have worse health outcomes, but our Closing the Gap statement today is supported by more than $1 billion in targeted investment to close the gap across multiple areas, including nearly $300 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

Let's focus on what matters. Let's focus on what's real. Let's stop focusing on backbenchers' social media and start focusing on what matters.


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