WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY 2021
DAVID BEVAN, CO-HOST: Alright, listening to this is Mark Butler, South Australian MP and Shadow Health Minister. Good morning Mark Butler.
MARK BUTLER MP, SHADOW MINISTER HEALTH AND AGEING: Good morning.
BEVAN: What do you say are the assumptions regarding the vaccination program?
BUTLER: Well there are some weasel words in the Budget papers saying that there is, this is a quote, “likely to be in place a vaccination program by the end of 2021”, but the Prime Minister was asked this morning whether that meant that every Australian would be vaccinated by the end of the year and he said bluntly “no”. The Prime Minister has failed every commitment he’s given around vaccination. The latest commitment was that six million people would be vaccinated by the 10th of May, which as you know was Monday this week, and we’re nowhere near even half of that. The problem is that at the current rate of vaccination, which is about 400,000 per week, we’re not going to be fully vaccinated, just the adult population, for another two years or so. They really are going far too slowly.
They’re not building purpose built quarantine facilities which means that we continue to see these outbreaks in hotel quarantine because we’re relying on buildings that were built for tourism, not for medical quarantine, and the Government’s been incredibly flatfooted in terms of trying to progress this question of sovereign manufacturing of mRNA vaccines. I mean they’ve been talking about it for eight months now. Germany built a facility in six months because they recognised the importance of having sovereign capability in terms of security of supply, but also having good workforce outcomes for the country.
BEVAN: So just very quickly, we’ve only got a minute before the 9 o’clock news, coming back to you Simon Birmingham. The argument seems to be the reason you need to go into so much debt is because you have got to keep pump-priming the economy and you’ve got to keep doing that because you haven’t rolled out the vaccine and opened up the quarantine facilities.
SENATOR SIMON BIRMINGHAM, FINANCE MINISTER: It’s fanciful to believe that there are silver bullets here, particularly in relation to quarantine facilities. Just because you build a different building doesn’t mean that you are necessarily going to get profoundly different outcomes from the 99.99 per cent successful management of COVID we’ve had in the quarantine facilities that are successfully operating across Australia. In terms of vaccines, look, all Australians know that the health advice changed only in the last couple of months to limit some of the vaccine distribution to over 50s only and that obviously changes the pace of the vaccine rollout, but we have in total 170 million doses of vaccine procured and contracted for Australia and they will flow through to Australians. I expect some Australians will still be getting vaccinated next year. That will be their choice, but we expect to be opening up the vaccine schedule to all Australians during this year, and for supply to be available for them.