Wednesday, 11 August 2021
Matters of Public Importance
I guess it helps that I find Bill Murray more funny than annoying, because I'm pretty sure that we've all slipped into some sort of Senate version of Groundhog Day. But, unfortunately for those opposite, they really haven't seemed able to adapt. As we come back, day after day after day, they still seem to be stepping in that puddle. Let's go through the meaning of the word 'exponential' again, for those still struggling with the maths and those still clinging to the notion that somehow their role is to pull Australia down, to confuse and mislead the Australian public and contribute to vaccine misinformation and hesitancy.
Yesterday we saw just shy of 256,000 vaccinations delivered. That is over a quarter of a million vaccinations in one day. And these record days—they just keep coming. We're now in a situation where 45 per cent of eligible Australians have received their first dose, so we're getting very close to 50 per cent, and, as we hit those days with a quarter of a million jabs, it's going to be here before you know it. But with the second dose, we've now hit 23 per cent. Almost one-quarter of all eligible Australians have now been fully vaccinated—not that you'll hear a word from those opposite.
I am glad that Senator Farrell and Senator Chisholm are sitting down, because there are a couple of things that I kind of almost agree with them on! There were delays in getting the vaccines approved. I think they did take a little bit too long. We know that some vaccines were being administered overseas sooner than they were here. They were being rolled out faster than they are here.
But that was because we had an independent TGA process that wasn't pushed through. There were no shortcuts. We didn't look to circumnavigate it somehow and get them out more quickly. And the reason is that, unlike what was happening in the US, Europe and the UK, we weren't seeing hundreds and thousands of people dying. We weren't seeing these outbreaks that were affecting hundreds and thousands of people every single day. We actually had a bit of time to make sure we went through the processes. I can only imagine what those on that side would have been going on about, had we skipped those steps, had we cut a corner, had we sped it through. The outcry would have been deafening.
But, of course, the people on that side don't remember that. Their memory is incredibly short; in fact, it's groundhog day, or perhaps it's better to describe them as a bunch of goldfish. I've got to be honest, I am actually quite confused—as I'm sure most of my colleagues on this side are—about what Labor actually want, what they actually support and what they actually think should have happened. No-one knows, because they swap and change and move around and twist and turn every second of the day. I heard a claim about guinea pigs today, and, when we talk about the proper processes of authorisation and approving the vaccines, I'm not quite sure where that even came from. But as they move into their perpetual whine and try and find their next line of attack—based on fallacy, based on misleading information—I just thought I'd go through a couple of the interjections we heard during question time today.
Senator Wong called out, and I think it may have been responding to one of my interjections, and I appreciate the President's ruling that all interjections are unruly and out of order. But Senator Wong claimed over the chamber to me that we were 12 months behind. Now, I don't even know how this is possible—and I know maths isn't their strong suit on that side; I know they struggle a little bit over there with the numbers. But the first vaccine was approved for emergency use in the US on 11 December 2020. Now, by anyone's maths, that's eight months ago. So if Senator Wong can just inform the chamber how we're 12 months behind in the vaccine rollout when the vaccine was wasn't even there—I mean, I realise that Labor talk in mistruths and misleading information, but, you know, one fact every now and then wouldn't hurt them.
For those opposite who don't understand, this vaccine has been developed and approved and rolled out in record speed. The pandemic started, what, in February or March last year? Previous to the development of these COVID-19 vaccines, the shortest time for a vaccine to be developed and approved and to start to be administered was four years, and that was for the mumps. That was the fastest vaccine ever. This one's been done in absolute record time, and, in fact, the operation was called Operation Warp Speed in the US. But some of us who have memories longer than the goldfish remember how much Labor were not happy with that. They felt that the vaccines were being pushed through. They weren't happy with the new technology and certainly not the mRNA, because that was new—we couldn't have that! But now, all of a sudden, there's not enough of it, we didn't buy it before it was approved, we didn't buy it before it had been tested—we certainly didn't buy it before it had gone through TGA processes. They would have been over there complaining, had we spent all this money on a vaccine that then didn't get approved. But Labor never let the facts get in the way of a good scare campaign, something we know they are so fond of.
So, as per usual, those opposite are about as clear as the Mehi after a flood, and as full of as much rubbish and old debris as well. I thought maybe we should invite those opposite to commit to answers in writing to some of these questions, and not only so some of us, and the rest of the Australian people, can get some clarity as to what they actually think. It might also serve as a little reminder for them when they need to go back and check, 'Well, hang on, what did I actually think about this a month ago, a week ago, yesterday or 10 minutes ago?' I'm not quite sure consistency is their strong suit.
I am intrigued to find out whether or not we're now going to see another AZ-type scaremongering campaign because there's a third vaccine in the mix. In hommage to the member for Goldstein, I assume those opposite are participating in a Jimmy-Rees-like form of comedy skit and that we will be seeing these fear campaigns rolled out using the correct pronunciation as to whether we prefer the 'Pffffiiiizer' or the 'Modern-A'. You guys are clearly trying to participate in some kind of comedy act, because you're certainly not working with any form of fact. Do you know anything about the difference between the Moderna and the Pfizer? Do you understand any of the differences other than the brand name?
I can tell you what I know and what anyone with a reading level above grade 3 knows: all vaccines are effective—all of them. All vaccines are effective. All of the vaccines are at the highest safety level, and all of the vaccines are hundreds and thousands of times less likely to kill or injure you than COVID, so just get vaccinated. Stop going out there with your brand based scare campaigns. You and your mates Jeanette Young, Norman Swan and the guy who's not even a doctor, Bill Bowtell: just go away. You are less correct than a broken watch most days.
Maybe I'm just feeling kind—it's Wednesday, I'm wearing pink, and maybe we're a bit warm—but here's another shocker for you: I want to say, 'Well done, Dan Andrews; good on you, Dan.' The Premier of Victoria is out there telling young people to go get the AstraZeneca, absolutely supporting the AZ, Australian jobs and Australian manufacturing. It's an effective vaccine. There's plenty of it around. Let's get out there and get it in those arms. I'm not a big fan of the Premier of Victoria. I'm not sure whether his brothels-not-families lockdown route is really the one we want to go down. It's all a bit unclear how Victoria has really been doing on this, but Dan Andrews's calls on the AZ are spot-on. Perhaps he's just backing in his Victorian mate the member for Maribyrnong, who's currently in the process of resurrecting, Lazarus-style, his leadership ambitions.
To everyone in New South Wales: there are now hubs and buses out there. I love it! Get them out! It's so good. You know what? Park them on the corners. Park them in the shopping centres. And, just because I know how much you love it that they're still open in New South Wales, park them in a Bunnings car park. Go and get your Seasol for your veggie patch. You can't get your sausage sandwich, but go get a vaccine, every time you pop into Bunnings—you could get shot 1 and shot 2. Gosh, imagine how many people would be vaccinated at that rate!
I would like to give a shout-out in particular today to the pop-up clinic in the Sydney LGA that I live in, Redfern and Waterloo. From today through to Saturday, every day between 10 and four, it will be providing the AstraZeneca for anyone 18 or over who wants it. As well, it's very clearly advertised, I'd just like to say, that it is the AstraZeneca. So when you see the ABC report on Sunday, because they managed to find one guy who'd turned up and then had a whinge because he thought he was coming to get the 'Pffffiiiizer'—it's the AZ. It's very well publicised: 'AstraZeneca available'. To everyone in that Redfern and Waterloo area in the inner city of Sydney, around the eastern suburbs: make sure you get over to Woolloomooloo and Waterloo to get that vaccine, because, as the great Richo acknowledged, we need to do whatever it takes. (Time expired)