Speeches

Question to the Prime Minister: Centre for Disease Control

August 26, 2021

Ms TEMPLEMAN (Macquarie) (15:01): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister act on the constructive proposal Labor outlined in the 2020 budget reply and establish an Australian centre for disease control so that Australia adopts international best practice and is much better prepared for future pandemics?

 

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health and Aged Care) (15:02): I note that the member has put forward the American model and the European model. The results in those countries through the course of this pandemic—and I think this is a very important moment to reflect on—have been vastly different to those which occurred in Australia. In the United States, we have seen over 600,000 lives lost. In the UK, we are seeing, tragically and agonisingly, almost 100 lives lost a day at this point in time. In the United States, there are almost 130,000 cases a day. We respect their approaches, but we have followed the Australian way. The Australian way has saved lives and protected lives. Compared with those two nations, which have the model that the Leader of the Opposition has advocated, we have saved 45,000 lives. Forty-five thousand Australians are with us today who, if we had taken the approach of those other countries, would not be here.

Do we believe that the Australian system has served Australia well? Yes, every day. Are we working through the national cabinet? Are we working through the AHPPC? Are we working through the scientific and technical advisory group? Are we working through ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration? We are. But the models upon which the ALP is basing its approach for Australia are models which most agonisingly have led to or been part of a process which contributed to catastrophic loss of life, not in the thousands, not in the tens of thousands, but in the hundreds of thousands. The point is that those structures did not protect those societies. What we did is embed the Chief Medical Officer of Australia inside the National Security Committee and the national cabinet, and the National Incident Centre which radiates out from that. We created an Australian model, which led to results which are profoundly different. So I have to remind the opposition that, in the end, in this global pandemic, we have had struggles and challenges. We are not untouched, but this pandemic has wreaked havoc on a scale we have not seen in 100 years, and we have been mercifully spared from so much of that, but there is much more to do.