Wednesday, 12 May 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, Senator Colbeck. This morning, this minister said: 'I expect some Australians will still be getting vaccinated next year.' On what date will Australians be fully vaccinated and how many doses per week need to be achieved to meet this target?
I didn't make any statements with respect to vaccination this morning, so it's somewhat difficult for me to respond to something that the opposition are alleging I have said.
My apologies—that is my fault. I take responsibility here, Mr President. My question was actually to Minister Birmingham. There was a typo on my paper. I apologise.
Senator Keneally, I appreciate you accepting the error was on your part, but the question was directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, so I must allow him to continue. He's commenced his answer. Senator Colbeck, have you concluded your answer?
No, Mr President. I'm very happy to assist the House with some information with respect to the vaccination rollout. As of close of business yesterday, the national number of vaccinations was over 2.8 million, with 76,379 in the previous 24 hours. In aged care, we have given 215,000 doses, and that's 126,923 first doses, 89,040 second doses, and 55,700 doses supporting staff—
This point of order is relevance. The senator doesn't have to explain Minister Birmingham's comments, but he could answer the question, which was: on what date will Australians be fully vaccinated and how many doses per week need to be administered to achieve this target?
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order! Senator Keneally, there was a quotation that you—I accept, erroneously—put to the minister in your question. I can't rule in this circumstance that talking very specifically about vaccination numbers is not directly relevant, but this is, I think, a unique circumstance in addressing direct relevance in a question. The minister is constraining himself to specific numbers. I believe that to be directly relevant, given the circumstances.
The government will continue to grow and develop the vaccination rollout in accordance with the growth in supply which we all accept has been one of the things that we've had to manage through the pandemic. We did not expect that 3.1 million doses of vaccine wouldn't be available. As more vaccine becomes available, we'll make more vaccines available through the nearly 5,000 outlets that we have available for Australians to achieve their vaccination. Of course, it is a voluntary process. It is not compulsory for Australians to be vaccinated. We are offering vaccinations progressively to all Australians based on the approvals of the TGA. At this point in time, we actually don't have globally a vaccine that's approved for use for younger people. Particularly in Australia, we don't have a vaccine that is approved for use for younger Australians—people under the age of 18. The Labor Party clearly don't understand the process of the development of the vaccine rollout. They continue to try to undermine— (Time expired)
As I have said—if the Labor Party had been listening to my answer to the last question—vaccination is a voluntary process. We don't yet have in this country a vaccine approved for people under the age of 18 because the TGA has not yet approved one. If the Labor Party don't understand those simple fundamentals about the vaccine process and about the safe application of the vaccine process that we are rolling out, I actually feel quite sorry for them. We will continue to build the vaccine rollout with the availability of new vaccines that will look after Australians at a senior level, those who are over 50 who have access to the vaccine now, and those in the—
The Morrison government has broken promise after promise: to administer four million vaccinations by the end of March, to vaccinate all of phase 1a by the end of Easter, and to vaccinate six million Australians by 10 May. On what date will all Australians who want to be vaccinated receive their vaccine?
The Labor Party seem to live in this parallel universe where they completely forget that we did not receive 3.1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that we were expecting. They neglect to tell the Australian people that, based on health advice, we had to reset the vaccine rollout to provide AstraZeneca vaccine only to people aged 50 and over, based on health advice. They live in this parallel universe where they continue to undermine public confidence in the vaccine rollout when we want to maintain confidence in the vaccine rollout because it is important that Australians front up and get a vaccination as it becomes available to them in the category that's open to them. We will continue to responsibly build and grow the vaccine rollout with vaccine availability and ensure that Australian have access to safe and high-quality vaccines.