Labor Senator for South Australia
26 August 2020
Labor welcomes the Government’s support for the COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment but calls on Scott Morrison to make clear what existing lifesaving programs he plans to cut in order to fund the 80 million dollar investment.Reports suggest this commitment will be drawn from the existing aid budget at the expense of other programs.It’s in Australia’s interests to be the partner of choice in our region. When our neighbours are facing unprecedented pressures, robbing Peter to pay Paul creates a leadership vacuum others will fill.The initiative led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is designed to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world. COVAX aims to deliver two billion doses of safe and effective vaccines by the end of 2021.We won’t defeat COVID-19 anywhere until we defeat it everywhere.It is in Australia’s interest to ensure the whole world is protected against this virus. The global economy will not fully recover as long as vast parts of the world’s population are exposed to coronavirus.Australia’s trade-exposed economy will continue to be hobbled without it.172 economies so far have engaged in discussions to participate in COVAX including 80 self-funding countries.Already 600 million USD has been pledged to the COVAX AMC, of a target 2 billion USD.It is extremely disappointing that the Government does not consider this crisis great enough to warrant new investment to ensure our region’s recovery.Under Scott Morrison we have already seen successive aid cuts to Indo-Pacific countries – including an 80% cut in health programs to Indonesia.Mr Morrison’s cuts have undermined our relationships with our key neighbours, where competition for influence and advantage is only going to keep rising.His Pacific Step Up has simply been a slogan – Australia should be the partner of choice in the region’s recovery, and we won’t be if we keep taking money from existing support.It’s also disappointing that Australia is behind the eight ball when it comes to investing in and signing agreements for our own vaccine agreements.The Government has boasted about a deal done with AstraZeneca to supply vaccines for all Australians. There’s one problem. There’s no deal.Australia only has an agreement to reach an agreement on a vaccine - and so far there’s no guarantee we can manufacture this vaccine domestically.Australians can’t be left behind on the path out of this pandemic. And we must play our role in defeating this vaccine in every corner of the globe.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.
Authorised by P Wong, Level 4, 19 Gouger St, Adelaide