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Thursday, 2 September 2021
Page: 70


Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (15:06): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Sport (Senator Colbeck) to questions without notice asked by Senators Keneally and Marielle Smith today relating to COVID-19 and the healthcare system.

If anyone had any doubt about how out of depth the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care is, it was on full display during question time today. The arrogance of this minister and this government in not heeding the warnings of the Australian Medical Association was clearly on display today. The Australian Medical Association are best able to look out for health professionals, to look at the crisis that our hospitals will be facing, if indeed we relax the restrictions we've had thus far to ensure that we are keeping Australians safe, by having lockdowns and being careful with how we go about managing the rollout of the vaccine. We have every reason to question this minister, but he has such a glass jaw. He hates to be questioned. This entire government hates any scrutiny. We on this side will always hold ministers of the Crown responsible for their actions. This is a minister who fails on every occasion to answer very direct questions.

The questions today went to what's happening in New South Wales in particular, but we know what will happen right across this country if the delta variant gets out of hand beyond the borders of New South Wales: a crisis like we have never seen before in this country will hit our hospitals. That is the reality. That was the warning from the Australian Medical Association. I would be taking their advice. I would not, as a minister, be suggesting that if the AMA want to talk about modelling then they should get into that business. What arrogance. What absolute arrogance. I've never heard anything like it before. It goes again to the basis of the issue we have seen since the very start of this pandemic. This Prime Minister and this minister for health have been unable to have any forward thinking. They have learnt nothing from what was happening globally. This pandemic didn't just fall out of the sky here in Australia. They had plenty of opportunity to put plans in place, but they failed to do that. They failed to provide enough vaccines, so we're now seeing that the crisis in New South Wales is getting worse, potentially, because now they want to extend the time for rolling out the Pfizer vaccine.

It's all very well for the minister to try to deflect and talk about AZ. Well, I've got to tell you, on this side of the chamber a lot of us have had AZ; we've had both vaccines. We were happy to have that. The audacity of this failed minister, to come into this chamber and suggest we are not doing what we should be doing, as citizens and as elected members of the Senate and the other place, to encourage Australians to get vaccinated—it is just outrageous. That's desperation from a minister who is out of his depth. It is unbelievable.

The Prime Minister first off said, 'We are all in this together.' Then he turned when it had been exposed that he had failed in his job and his responsibility of this country, and he now wants to lay the blame elsewhere. First off, he wanted to blame the states for all the lockdowns. Now every day, for the past month at least, we have seen those on the other side come into this chamber and try to create this illusion that they're the only people who are out there caring for people and making sure they're vaccinated. That is clearly untrue, and it is quite dishonest. Nobody in this chamber—with one exception, who sits on that side of the chamber—has been raising issues around whether or not people should be vaccinated.

It is the government's own backbench that has been putting out misinformation about vaccinations in this country—not anyone on this side of the chamber, because we are responsible, because we will always hold this government to account. For those on that side to come in here and try to shift the blame—well, the Australian people have no faith whatsoever in Mr Morrison to roll out a vaccination to keep Australians healthy and safe. (Time expired)