Wednesday, 17 March 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. The Morrison government promised that four million coronavirus vaccines would be administered by the end of March. How many vaccines have been administered to date and how many will be administered by 31 March?
I thank Senator Dodson for the question. The senator is right: the government laid out a plan to roll out vaccination to Australians across the country to protect them against COVID-19 and to allow the Australian economy to return to normal.
An honourable senator interjecting—
I'll take the interjection. I think it actually is going quite well. We've had some interruption to our supply from international sources, and everybody would understand that. To date, over 200,000 Australians have received their vaccination across the country, and that number continues to ramp up as we extend the rollout of vaccination. Today we've announced the GP services that will start vaccinating Australians—over a thousand sites around the country—in phase 1b, as of next week. We continue to build and grow the vaccination process for Australia as vaccines become available and as the capacity of the system is built. We have today vaccinated over 200,000 Australians and we continue to grow that and we continue to build the capacity of the system in Australia to do that—through, as of next week, GPs and Commonwealth vaccination clinics. And of course the states are currently rolling out their vaccines—at varying rates, I must admit. But the states are rolling out their vaccines to their frontline health workers as a part of phase 1a. (Time expired)
The Prime Minister has told this parliament that economic confidence will be 'reinforced' by the rollout of the vaccination program. What impact will the Morrison government's failure to deliver on its promise to administer 4,000 vaccines by the end of March have on the economy and jobs?
I'm glad someone else has trouble with numbers! I accept that the number that Senator Dodson was talking about was four million, not 4,000. I reject the premise of the question that Senator Dodson put, in the context of where the government's situation sits. He is right, though, in the context of the confidence that it will give to Australians as the vaccine rolls out. But, as we all know, we have had some constraint in supply from overseas. The opposition might like to try and downplay that, but that is a reality. We've always accepted that that was an issue that we might confront, but we are in the very fortunate position that we have sovereign supply in this country, and we will continue to roll that out in the interests of Australians. (Time expired)
The government's position with respect to JobKeeper, I think, is very well understood. That has been made public on a number of occasions and so that is exceptionally well understood.
We will continue to build and grow the rollout of the vaccine with the objective of Australians having their first dose of the vaccine by the end of October, which was always our target. We said that we would start the vaccination process in February and we've done that. We said that we would start the rollout of phase 1b in March and we are doing that. We will continue to build and develop the rollout of vaccines across the country to ensure that Australians can be protected from coronavirus and that the Australian economy can continue to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.