Monday, 23 August 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the minister for health, Senator Colbeck. Today New South Wales recorded 818 new COVID-19 cases. There are now 100 people in the ICU and, tragically, there have been 74 deaths from the current outbreak. This is the third consecutive day of more than 800 cases in New South Wales, with the highest ever number of daily cases, 830, recorded yesterday. Can the minister confirm that Australia is now experiencing the highest number of daily cases since the beginning of the pandemic more than 18 months ago?
I thank Senator McAllister for the question. It is true that, over the last few days, the number of cases per day in New South Wales has been the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. We are seeing the very, very difficult effects of the delta variant of the virus, which is clearly transmitted much more quickly in the community, and we've seen a number of states now struggle with that. We're seeing exactly the same concerns being expressed in Victoria, where there were 70-odd cases today. So, clearly, the delta variant, which the government has been quite open and upfront with the Australian people about, is a completely new ball game with respect to the management of COVID-19. We've seen here in the ACT how quickly the numbers increased once the variant arrived in the ACT. We're seeing concerns expressed by state leaders all around the country. The New South Wales government, working with the Australian government, is doing everything that it can to suppress the spread of the virus. That is our responsibility. That is what we're trying to do.
Alongside that growth in numbers, we are seeing every single day an increase in the number of Australians who are vaccinated. We've passed 17 million vaccinations administered in this country, and that rollout continues to develop at speed, as we said it would.
As I indicated in my answer to the primary question, the New South Wales government, along with the Commonwealth, are doing everything that they possibly can to suppress the transmission of the virus. I say to people in New South Wales, particularly in those LGAs of concern—
I say to all people in New South Wales, particularly those in the LGAs where the virus is spreading more rapidly: please obey the instructions of and the conditions imposed by the New South Wales government. Please do that, because the virus moves with people and is transmitted to people, and it's only when—
My point of order is on relevance. The minister has 18 seconds left. He was asked a very specific question about the projections about the level of daily cases and when they would peak. If he doesn't know the answer, he should take it on notice.
I do take the point that the minister has been speaking for over 40 seconds. It was a question specific in nature, and so I take the time to remind the minister of the question, because the time for a more general commentary has passed.
It's only when people stop moving and interacting with each other that we will see a reduction in the transmission of the virus. It's all very well to come in here to ask impossible-to-answer questions. But the virus travels with people, and it is people's— (Time expired)
Eighteen months into the pandemic, Australia is experiencing its highest daily case numbers, and millions of Australians are in lockdown in New South Wales, in Victoria and in the ACT. Does Mr Morrison regret failing to secure enough vaccines and repeatedly telling Australians that the vaccine rollout is not a race?
I completely reject the assertion that the Australian government has not secured enough vaccines. We have procured over 100 million doses of vaccines. We have available—and they will be available—enough vaccines that will be developed for the possibility of booster shots down the track.
We will do what we said we would do, which is to continue to increase the supply, continue to increase the opportunity for Australians to take up the vaccine. There are more than 8,000 points in this country, right now, where people can get access to a vaccine.
An opposition senator interjecting—
That's not true, Senator—I will take your interjection. The Victorian Premier even said today that there are open opportunities for vaccines in Victoria today. (Time expired)
Senator O'Neill interjecting—