DOORSTOP: 9/5/21

May 09, 2021

SUNDAY, 9 MAY 2021

MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER HEALTH AND AGEING: First of all, can I say Happy Mother's Day to all those mothers out there.
Scott Morrison promised that there will be 4 million vaccinations by the end of March and when it became clear he was going to miss that target by a country mile the Government then published a new target of 6 million vaccinations by the 10th of May, which is tomorrow. Again, we're going to miss that target by a least a country mile. Scott Morrison has said time and time again, including this morning, that Australians are at the front of the queue in a global vaccination effort but that is so far from the case. 1.3 billion doses have now been delivered around the world. 257 million doses in America, 52 million in the United Kingdom, just two and a half million doses have been delivered here in Australia. The US has delivered 100 times the number of doses that have been delivered here. Here in Australia, we're running at about 350,000 doses per week. At that rate, it will take two years to vaccinate just the adult population of Australia. Scott Morrison has again said this morning in the News Limited tabloids that we're still “at the front of the queue” on the global vaccination efforts. In spite of the fact we're not even in the top 100 nations. Scott Morrison must take us for mugs. We're so far behind on the vaccine effort we can't even see the front of the queue, let alone be at the front.
Scott Morrison had two jobs this year. A speedy effective vaccine rollout and a safe national quarantine system. And he's failed on both. In the face of those failures all we get is a steady stream of distractions and headline grabbing efforts in the nation's newspapers. Three weeks ago, Scott Morrison said there could be international travel and home quarantine buy as early as July. This morning, three weeks later, he's saying Australia will be locked down forever, which is it? Australia needs a clear plan on vaccines and quarantine but all we're getting from this Prime Minister is excuses and failure.

JOURNALIST: How much do you think the Government’s vaccine rollout is costing the budget and has Labor done those costings?

BUTLER: A range of other organisations who have made those calculations. The Government in the last budget, in the mid-year fiscal outlook, said that a speedy vaccine rollout would increase economic activity by many billions of dollars. So as Jim Chalmers has said, we expect the Government to clearly account for the economic and the jobs impact of this terribly slow vaccine rollout, missing every single target. We expect that data, those figures to be published transparently on Tuesday night.

JOURNALIST: The Treasurer says they'll be more than $10 billion over four years for aged care in the budget. Is that enough? How much do you think needs to be spent?

BUTLER: The Government has a responsibility to deliver a full and comprehensive response to the aged care royal commission report. That report was costed at way more than $10 billion over the forward estimates. The Government needs to show which recommendations it is simply going to shelf, which recommendations it's not going to carry forward. This Government has overseen an aged care system in crisis with residents suffering maggots in wounds with 68 per cent of aged care residents malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. The time is over for excuses. We need serious delivery from this Government on aged care reform.

JOURNALIST: The Budget is based on the assumption international borders won't reopen until next year, with the Treasurer saying the health advice will always lead the Government’s thinking. Is it wise to keep the borders closed that long?

BUTLER: We should take health advice. I think the concern Australians have is the story of Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt changes every couple of weeks. Three weeks ago, we were told there might be international travel and home quarantine by as early as July. International airlines were planning on resuming international travel by November because of advice from the Government and now we're told next year. At the current rate of the vaccine rollout it's going to be two years from now. Two years, well into 2023, before Australians are fully vaccinated, so the Government needs to come clean with Australians publish a clear plan with targets and timeframes on the vaccine rollout and a safe national quarantine system.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the announcements this morning on the Budget and women?

BUTLER: We've seen some detail published in the newspapers this morning about additional measures for women's health. Of course, we welcome any additional spending in that important area. We've been calling for it for years, but we'll examine that detail when that's finally published on Tuesday night.

JOURNALIST: And another one on Morrison saying the borders will be closing indefinitely. What’s your take on that?

BUTLER: We need the Prime Minister to stop chopping and changing. Three weeks ago he said international travel and home quarantine might resume as early as July. This morning he's saying we might never have international travel again, so which is it? The problem Australian businesses have in terms of being able to plan their recovery with confidence, is because we don't have a vaccination plan with clear targets and timeframes and we don't have a safe national quarantine system.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the last few months has shown Australians like to be closed off?
BUTLER: Of course, Australia is incredibly fortunate in the position we find ourselves in and that's really a reflection of the discipline the Australian people have shown to accept the restrictions that are needed to deal with this global pandemic. But what we need from the Government is a clear plan with targets about where the population will be vaccinated, and how we're going to be able to bring our citizens home for a safe national quarantine system. We're seeing that play out with terrible consequences in India right now because Scott Morrison has failed to deliver that safe national quarantine system. We need a plan. We need the details. Thanks, everyone.