Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. Yesterday, the minister asserted:
Every aged-care worker who wants access to a vaccine right now has access to a vaccine right now.
Does the minister stand by his statement?
Yesterday, the Victorian government was forced to stop bookings for the Pfizer vaccine, including for aged-care workers, due to constraints of supply of the Commonwealth program. Can the minister confirm that not all aged-care workers who want a vaccine right now can access one?
I thank Senator Walsh for the question. I do confirm that they have availability. I have a text message from Minister Foley from Victoria, who I contacted when I saw a story in the Guardian earlier in the day that was reporting that was the case. Minister Foley's text says: 'Not right, they are wrong. They still have priority. It's nonsense. We will get onto them.'
So Minister Foley is going to—
Government senators interjecting—
So aged-care workers continue to have access; in fact, they have priority access. That's directly from the Victorian minister, who, I have to say, I thank for his cooperation. There was also my earlier conversation with Minister Donnellan. We continue to work very, very cooperatively with the Victorian government to ensure that the rollout— (Time expired)
Yesterday, this minister conceded that the Morrison government has, firstly, had to reassess our vaccine rollout; secondly, again, re-pivot the rollout; and, finally, reset the vaccine rollout for the aged-care workforce on a number of occasions. Given the Victorian government's decision as a result of supply constraints of the Commonwealth, has the Morrison government had to reassess, re-pivot and reset its rollout yet again?
The problem is one of reading a set question after not listening to the answers to the previous two questions. As I have articulated clearly, and had confirmed by the Victorian minister, the workers in Victoria continue to have priority access to vaccines.
It's a pity that the senator didn't take notice of the first questions that we answered. We continue to work very cooperatively with the Victorian government in the interests of getting aged-care workers vaccinated, and we will continue to do that. It's a pity that the Labor Party here in Canberra continues to try to undermine confidence in the vaccination rollout process for their own political purposes. They continue to make these disgraceful accusations that are simply not true—
Senator Wong interjecting—