Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Tuesday, 2 February 2021
Simon Birmingham: We are back in another parliamentary year and yesterday the Prime Minister outlined very clearly the government's priorities and ambitions for the year ahead, in particular our focus, first and foremost on continuing to suppress COVID and to deliver the vaccine rollout effectively. And alongside that, to continue to successfully ensure the recovery of Australian jobs and strengthen the Australian economy. People right around the world, look at Australia and the handful of nations in similar positions like us with enormous envy. We have had success in suppressing COVID and in doing so we have saved many, many Australian lives. In doing so, we've also helped to save the Australian economy and save and stave off many, many Australian jobs.
Our priorities this week include further legislation around the operation of the Australian vaccination register which can help to give greater certainty moving forward. It complements the work the Government is doing in terms of the $1.9 billion vaccination rollout strategy, which is complemented further by the various commitments we've made and contract signings for the purchase of vaccines for Australians.
People can have absolute confidence, that in Australia, we are as well positioned as any nation in terms of securing vaccines, safely distributing those vaccines and ensuring that Australia will get the best outcomes in relation to vaccination, just as we've had the best outcomes right through the pandemic.
Journalist: Minister is the timeline around the vaccine starting to slip?
Simon Birmingham: No, our expectation remains that we will see initial delivery and rollout of the vaccine occurring in late February and of course we have not only the vaccines coming from overseas, where we are seeing other countries suffer from particular disruptions from suppliers, but we've also got the certainty of manufacturing capabilities in Australia, 50 million potential doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured [INDISTINCT] that's going to come online from late March.
Journalist: When do you expect the first jabs to go into arms?
Simon Birmingham: We are working to the same timeline and hoping to see those first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in Australia in late February and distribution, including people receiving that from there.
Journalist: The Prime Minister said at the Press Club yesterday the Prime Minister sort of softened his language a bit on net zero emissions hoping for that by 2050 now [INDISTINCT]?
This is a very exciting step in Australia's ability to show the rest of the world just the success we've had in reducing emissions to date and our commitment to investing in technologies that our necessary to achieve net zero emissions not just in Australia but ideally across the world in the years to come. I want to see and our Government wants to see net zero emissions achieved by 2050 or earlier but we know the most important part to this answer is how we are going to do it. Our commitment is to achieve it through investment [INDISTINCT] and Australia has had remarkable success already. We've seen significant growth and uptake in relation to renewable energies across Australia which has enabled us to be a leader in many ways in terms of emissions reductions. Australia down 17 per cent from 2005 our emissions, compared to New Zealand’s one per cent, Canada’s zero point four per cent. So we’ve managed to meet and exceed commitments we’ve made to date, what we want to do now is invest in the next wave of technologies, be they hydrogen, steel production [INDISTINCT] these are the crucial next steps of cooperation to get us and other countries [INDISTINCT]
Journalist: Minister, Craig Kelly appearing on TV [INDISTINCT] overnight, is that a bit too far, has he gone a bit too far with his, the way he [INDISTINCT]?
Simon Birmingham: My message to everybody, be you a member of the public or a Member of Parliament, you should stick to the health advice, the expert medical health advice, that’s what we’re sure of.
Journalist: I mean he has, you know, shared content around [INDISTINCT] conspiracy, he’s shared memes with [INDISTINCT] questioned the medical rights of not just Australian doctors but international experts. Is that the kind of person [INDISTINCT] should be associated with?
Simon Birmingham: Well everyone should associate themselves with Professor Paul Kelly, with our health experts, they’re the advice everyone should be relying on if you are a member of the public, in the media or a Member of Parliament.