Tuesday, 24 August 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. Mr Morrison has failed to deliver on his promise to vaccinate all people working and living in residential aged care by Easter, vaccinate all Australians with a disability and disability care workers by Easter, vaccinate four million Australians by the end of March, fully vaccinate all over-70s by the onset of winter and vaccinate all Australians by October. Why should Australians believe Mr Morrison will deliver on his new promises when he has consistently failed to deliver on his old promises, leaving Australians languishing in lockdown?
[by video link] Once again, Senator Watt and his questions, as has become commonplace from the Labor Party, airbrush the bits of history that they're not interested in. They simply ignore the realities of the 3.4 million doses that didn't arrive on schedule at the start of the year. They airbrush the challenges in relation to changes in the health advice relating to the AstraZeneca vaccine. They pretend those things didn't occur and just surge on, pursuing their politically motivated agenda. That's the choice of the Labor Party.
We've acknowledged, yes, there've been challenges. We've taken responsibility for fixing the challenges, and we are pleased to see the rate of the vaccine rollout now charging ahead across Australia. In the last week alone, 1.8 million doses have been administered around Australia. That is the population of South Australia provided with a vaccine dose, all in one week. We are running at a rate of administration of vaccines now higher than was ever achieved in the United States at their peak and higher than was ever achieved in the United Kingdom at their peak, and that's before we see the increase in supply that will come through further in the coming months. We've secured additional supply already, and there's more coming. We will see, with that extra supply, even more distribution outlets brought online. At that point, there will be the ability for us to open up to the entire adult population, providing all Australians with the opportunity to follow the magnificent lead of our older and senior Australians, who have turned out, as the first cohorts made eligible, in record numbers, taking the effort and the time to get vaccinated. Now some 85-plus per cent of senior Australians have received their first dose, setting a very strong example that I trust, based on the growth rates we're seeing across every other age cohort, will be followed by Australians to help us reach the crucial targets of 70 and 80 per cent, and hopefully further in the time to come.
Mr Morrison is promising Australians that the lockdowns he is responsible for will end when 70 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 are vaccinated. Will Mr Morrison admit that Australia would be there already if he had not failed his two jobs on vaccine and quarantine? How can Australians trust that the same man who got them into this mess can get them out of it?
[by video link] There we have Labor again taking the political approach, and we have Senator Watt repeating this pathetic line from Labor, that there were only two jobs to worry about. Of course there are many more serious jobs in addition to COVID that we must do simultaneously, have been pursuing simultaneously, whether that be the updated Closing the Gap agenda, whether that be dealing with the sensitive issues in Afghanistan, whether that be pursuit of many other policies in relation to economic growth, to climate change and otherwise.
In terms of the agenda for opening up, we are absolutely committed to seeing the Doherty modelling applied, because it provides a scientific basis to give confidence and certainty to Australians while keeping Australians as safe as possible. We can see Australia charging towards those targets in the Doherty modelling because Australians are turning out as more dosages become available, and that is delivering the opportunity for us to look to a future with far more confidence and optimism than those on the other side apparently seem to have.
In the Black Summer bushfires, Mr Morrison told Australians, 'I don't hold a hose, mate.' When COVID hit Australia, Mr Morrison blamed everyone else for his failure to deliver safe national quarantine and the vaccine rollout. After three years as Prime Minister, when will Mr Morrison start acting like one?
[by video link] What a pathetic excuse for a question there from Senator Watt. As a government, we are proud to have Mr Morrison leading us through the most uncertain of global times. We're proud of the fact that, as a country, the cooperation shown by all Australians right across this nation has ensured, despite our current difficulties, we do have world-leading outcomes when it has come to the management of COVID-19.
The policies and approaches put in place in Australia have saved lives, tens of thousands of lives, compared with the rest of the world. The economic responses put in place in Australia have saved businesses and saved jobs—hundreds of thousands of jobs—relative to the challenges that have been faced in the rest of the world. These are uncertain times. The delta variant has thrown additional challenges at us, but we are confident Australia will come through it. We won't let those opposite talk this nation down, talk it into some sort of economic abyss. We will see once again, I am certain, with the economic support— (Time expired)