13 May 2021

Taking Note - Aged Care & Vaccinations


I also rise to take note of questions by senators Kitching and Gallagher to Senator Colbeck. What we got in the answers today was more waffle from a government far more focused on the politics of the vaccine rollout than the delivery of it. This is something we've come to expect after eight long years of this government that has always been far, far more focused on announcements than deliveries. We've seen it time and time again. The JobMaker program was meant to create 450,000 jobs, but only created 1,100. A federal integrity commission is nowhere to be seen. There is also the $4 billion in national disaster recovery that has not been spent. But this time the government have outdone themselves.


They've outdone themselves on the 'all announcement, no delivery', because this time they haven't just bungled the delivery; they've bungled the announcements. They announced that four million Australians would be vaccinated by the end of March, and they've failed to deliver that. It's now May and we've got about 2.8 million vaccinated. So they've tried to announce something again, and then they've failed to deliver the reannouncement. We've got five goes from five different ministers: Minister Hunt, who promised that all Australians would be vaccinated by October; Minister Tehan, who said that the goal was for all Australians to have a dose by the end of the year; Treasurer Frydenberg, who promised that every Australian would get two shots of the vaccine by the end of the year; Senator Birmingham, who said that people would still be getting vaccinated next year; and Minister Colbeck, who said that vaccinating Australians this year has never been part of the government's plans. There have been five different attempts at reannouncement from five different ministers.


I've got to give you guys credit, because we thought we had you worked out. We thought we had your measure. We thought you were all announcement, no delivery. We thought you were great at the announcements—political geniuses at that—but always failing on the delivery. But you tricked us, because you can't even announce it properly. You're not only 'no announcement, no delivery'; you can't even do the announcements properly. There have been five different positions from five different ministers, five attempts at an announcement from five different ministers. It's ridiculously hard to keep up.


The fact is that, in all these failures, the failures in delivery particularly, you're letting Australians down so very badly. It's not good enough to bungle this. It's one of your few jobs in the COVID recovery—vaccinations—and you're bungling it. It's not good enough for Australians. It's not good enough for vulnerable Australians, especially, who are still scared, who are still anxious, waiting for their vaccine. That vaccine for them is a ticket to a more normal life. It's a ticket to safety. It's a ticket to being able to go back into their community and not live with that deep-seated fear they live with every day. It's not good enough for our aged-care workers, who are going through an extraordinarily difficult time at the moment, with this anxiety on top of them. They're not all vaccinated yet. The fear they live with every day is intolerable. It's not good enough for our frontline healthcare workers, who are exhausted from this pandemic and who want to be vaccinated and are not yet vaccinated. It's not good enough for them. It's not good enough for all the Australians who need this vaccine and aren't able to get it. It's not good enough for our economy, because we know the reopening of our economy—the full redevelopment, the growth that we know we need to see in our economy—depends on jabs in arms, jabs you cannot deliver.


It's not good enough for our economy. It's not good enough for vulnerable Australians. It's not good enough for aged-care workers. It's not good enough for frontline healthcare workers. It's not good enough for any of us. So, instead of tying yourself in knots bungling announcements, and then go on and bungle the delivery of those announcements and reannouncements, which we just can't even catch up with, just do better. Do better for all Australians, who need you to do better on one of the few jobs you have. Do better for our economy. Do better for our vulnerable Australians. Do better on this vaccine rollout. Do better so that we can start getting back to normal. Do better so that people can be less anxious and less in fear. Just do better for Australia. It's about time.