As the nation grapples with another series of crippling lockdowns, Scott Morrison must tell Australians when local mRNA vaccine manufacturing will commence.
In October last year, former Industry Minister Karen Andrews assured Australians that we would have the capacity to produce mRNA vaccines in Australia within nine to 12 months.
Nine months later and the Government is still collecting initial submissions of interest from potential proponents.
The Morrison Government has been defined by a glacial reaction at every step of this pandemic.
Pfizer has said it will not take up the Federal Government’s offer to build mRNA vaccine facilities in Australia, dealing a blow to domestic hopes of increasing our supply of their world-leading vaccination.
The current Minister for Industry and Science, Christian Porter, announced in June that the likely timeline for manufacturing mRNA on shore would most likely be in the 12 to 18 months timeframe.
But we all know that with this Government, the best-case scenario is never the final result. In a Senate Estimates hearing last month, Industry department officials said it could be ‘three to four years’ before mRNA production begins in Australia.
And as usual with this Government, it leaves the states to clean up its mess.
The Victorian Government has pledged $50 million and set up its own mRNA department to get on with production, while New South Wales has set up a pilot program.
What has the Government invested? About $5.8 million to a consulting firm for ‘professional advice’ on a ‘business case’ for onshore mRNA production.
An Albanese Labor Government will make it the first priority of Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund to deliver mRNA vaccine and RNA medicine manufacturing capacity right here in Australia, creating jobs and a new high-tech manufacturing industry.