Monday, 21 June 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. Today the Prime Minister held an emergency national cabinet meeting, with the sole agenda item being the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Liberal New South Wales premier, Premier Berejiklian, has said she will request more supply of vaccines from the Commonwealth, saying, 'If we had more doses of Pfizer, we could get them out through our New South Wales state government mass vaccination hubs.' Why has the Morrison government failed to ensure enough supply of Pfizer doses in New South Wales, which is now facing a new COVID-19 outbreak?
I thank the senator for the question. The senator is correct; there was a national cabinet meeting this morning, with the primary issue on the agenda the national vaccine rollout. At that meeting this morning, the coordinator-general of Operation COVID Shield, Lieutenant General Frewen, provided each state and territory with planning projections for Pfizer and AstraZeneca doses for their jurisdictions over the remainder of this year so that the states and territories can effectively plan their vaccine rollouts. The coordinator-general confirmed that Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine allocations are being provided on a proportional population basis to each state and territory, and the government remains on track to offer every eligible Australian a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.
Victoria's Acting Premier, James Merlino, has warned that the country is heading into winter without enough supply of COVID-19 vaccines and has slammed the national vaccine rollout as an 'absolute shambles'. Can the minister guarantee that the Morrison government will supply sufficient doses to meet demand for each week through July?
I thank the senator for the question. As I've just indicated, state premiers and territory leaders were updated this morning on the supply projections for COVID-19 vaccines out to the end of 2021. The state leaders agreed that they would continue to prioritise category 1a and 1b people seeking vaccines during that period of time. So we will continue to work cooperatively with the states and territories on the national vaccine rollout to ensure that Australians, as we've indicated, have the opportunity to get a first dose of the vaccine by the end of 2021.
When New South Wales and Victoria are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and the Morrison government's vaccine rollout is an absolute shambles, why is the Morrison-Joyce government more focused on rolling each other than rolling out the vaccine?
The Prime Minister calling a national cabinet meeting this morning to specifically discuss the vaccine rollout clearly demonstrates the Prime Minister's and the government's focus on the vaccine rollout. That was the point of having the meeting—to discuss with the states and territories the rollout of the vaccination process. And we will continue to maintain that focus. The Prime Minister will continue to maintain that focus. The whole purpose of the discussion this morning was to ensure that the states and territories had the information available to them that they needed to coordinate the supply and the rollout of the vaccination process so that every Australian who wants a vaccine by the end of the year can get one.