After last week’s public relations hit caused by missing its April vaccination target by 85%, the federal government moved to shift the blame onto the states. According to leaked “vaccine rollout data obtained by The Courier-Mail,” Queensland’s Labor government was sitting on a vaccine “stockpile.”
According to the News Corp tabloid, “every state in Australia has struggled to get barely half of the COVID-19 vaccines they have been given by the federal government” to patients. Other Liberals were out amplifying the message.
“Our biggest issue with the vaccines at the moment is to make sure that the states and territories roll-out the supply of the vaccines that they have,” Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said.
Yet just as on renewables, the NSW Liberals complicated the matter for their federal counterpart. “I find this very offensive,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said. “I am as angry as I have ever been in these 15 months of war against this virus.”
“It is not appropriate that we wake up and find figures put into the media that haven’t been shared with any state or territory government. It is not appropriate that those figures be put in a light that is quite misleading.
“I have let Greg Hunt know my anger and agitation, and he has provided a justification which I don’t accept.” That justification, Hazard intimated, is that the leak was targeted at the Palaszczuk government.
“Let’s get this really, really clear,” said Hazzard. “The NSW government was asked to roll out 300,000 vaccinations to the groups in 1A and 1B. Of that, we’ve done 100,000.
“The federal government […] is responsible for five and a half million people, and they’ve done 50,000. I think the figures speak for themselves.”
Queensland Health Minister, Yvette D’Ath, was similarly direct. “If we were to race out and set up a mass vaccination centre tomorrow to fast track all of our health workers, we would run out of the vaccine in a couple of days,” she said.
Then late on Good Friday, the Morrison government back-flipped. The supposedly hapless NSW government would now be encharged with running its own vaccination hubs, with funding and responsibility split 50:50.
The entire episode from the feds was shamelessly PR- rather than policy-driven. Yet as usual, Anthony Albanese dived from his 10-metre high platform as Leader of the Opposition and entered the water with barely a ripple.
“It would be good if the federal government took responsibility for something,” murmured the Labor leader.
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