SUNDAY, 18 JULY 2021
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER HEALTH AND AGEING: It’s a month to the day that a limousine driver contracted to transport air crews contracted COVID and spread it into the community. Scott Morrison failed to protect Australians against that risk. Today, 12 million Australians are yet get again languishing in lockdown while they watch life starting to return to normal in some other countries. This is all a result of Scott Morrison’s abject failures on vaccines and quarantine. Lives are being disrupted right through the country, either because of lockdown or other restrictions that are in place in other states. Livelihoods are being smashed. People aren’t able to go to work. Children won't be able to go to school tomorrow, and economic loss is already running to billions and billions of dollars.
Scott Morrison had two jobs this year a speedy and effective rollout of the vaccine and the implementation of safe national quarantine arrangements and he's failed on both of them. As of today, only one in ten Australians are fully vaccinated and protected against COVID - particularly protected against the highly infectious dangerous Delta variant. Still nine in ten Australians are dangerously exposed - the worst rate in the OECD. Still, we only have one purpose built quarantine facility in the Northern Territory, not a single one anywhere else in the country and not one in prospect until next year at the earliest. Still we are required to rely upon hotels for quarantine. Hotels that were build for tourism, not medical quarantine arrangements.
Can I just also say nine months ago the Government promised that in nine to 12 months we would have domestic sovereign capability to manufacture the state of the art mRNA vaccines here in Australia. Well, nine months is up. And what does the Government say now? It says we won't have them this year, we probably won't even have that capability next year. It won't be until 2023 that Australia is able to manufacture its own state of the art mRNA vaccines. I read reports that Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday night, in a hook up with APEC leaders, lectured them about manufacturing more vaccines, more mRNA vaccines. It's what we expect from this guy. It's always someone else's fault. Always someone else's responsibility. He promised Australians that we would be able to make our own mRNA vaccines by this year, and yet again, he’s let them down.
Just finally can I address this story about Kate Hopkins. The decision by the Morison Government to welcome this self-serving media troll into this country is a kick in the guts to tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas, unable to come back home. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: The Federal Government is providing more mental health support to Victorians as they go through their fifth lockdown. How important are these extra services?
BUTLER: This is critically important. We hear from services like Lifeline and so many other frontline services, GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists, that the mental health impact of these lockdowns is very significant right through the population. Including, concerningly children under the age of 12, who have been very severely impacted by these lockdowns that have become a regular feature of Australian society right now. So any extra support from state and federal government by way of mental health service should be welcomed.
JOURNALIST: Should Katie Hopkins be given the same treatment as Johnny Depp's dogs and be deported?
BUTLER: She should be kicked out of this country. She should not have been let into the country in the first place. Tens of thousands of Australian citizens and permanent residents have been stranded overseas for months in spite of Scott Morrison's promise to get them home by Christmas. There are 35,000 Australians wanting to get home but instead of them being able to get home we get this self-serving media troll welcomed in by the Federal Government.
JOURNALIST: When Australia does begin to reopen its borders, what level of risk does the population need to accept?
BUTLER: Scott Morrison promised us that there would be expert modelling provided by the Doherty Institute to inform that sort of debate. Right now, Australians are languishing in lockdown. Nine in ten are unprotected against these variants because they've not been vaccinated because the Prime Minister didn't do enough deals on vaccines and he hasn't released the modelling that he commissioned from the Doherty Institute. So let's have some of that information. Let's have proper vaccination rates rather than languishing at the bottom of the developed world before we start having that conversation. It is though obviously a conversation we're going to have to have at some point.
JOURNALIST: When we do open up do Australians need to accept some level of community transmission of the virus?
BUTLER: Let's wait and see what the modelling that the National Cabinet has commissioned, comes back with, then I think there will be a mature debate in this country about the future. Australians are watching lives starting to return to normal in other countries that have been able to vaccinate their population at proper rates while we languish at the bottom of the league table here. Now we were at the top of the league table last year at being able to quash community transmission of this virus in this country in a way very few countries were able to achieve. But instead of building on that great achievement by the Australian people and by state governments last year, and getting a vaccine rollout that ran ahead of the rest of the world, we're now languishing behind the rest of the world. Thank you.