Monday, 9 August 2021
COVID-19: Morrison Government
[by video link]. Very disappointingly, I'm joining the Senate today from Cairns, which is in lockdown. We started a three-day lockdown yesterday at four o'clock. Although the community are doing everything they've been asked to do—they're out there getting tested, they're checking contact-tracing lists and they're staying home if they don't need to leave—they are also very angry. They're angry at the Morrison government because they know that they have been let down by this Prime Minister, who had two jobs: to vaccinate Australians and to quarantine effectively. Only 21 per cent of people in Cairns are vaccinated, and that is why we are headed into this lockdown. We also know that, in the surrounding Torres Strait and Cape region, where our vulnerable communities are, some of those communities haven't even been able to get a first dose of vaccine yet. No-one has been vaccinated in some of our most vulnerable communities around Cairns. Only 16 per cent of that region has been fully vaccinated.
When it comes to support for businesses and for workers, the Morrison government is completely missing. There is no support on the ground here in Cairns from the Morrison government. The tourism industry estimates that we are losing $10 million a day from this lockdown, but it was calling for support long before this three-day lockdown. People in Cairns are not yet eligible for disaster payments, so there isn't a cent from the Morrison government going into this community.
Far North Queensland has set a test for the Morrison government, and those opposite have catastrophically failed. The test is how long it takes for the Morrison government to vaccinate enough Australians to prevent lockdowns and to open the international border. That is incredibly important for a town like Cairns. This community needs support until that happens. The government is failing every test. (Time expired)