NSW and Queensland premiers hit back after Morrison government blames states for slow Covid vaccine rollout | Australia news
He said public health staff had been working “into the wee small hours” to administer the vaccine. He said he was “not happy at all today”. “The federal government should be offering apologies to not only our government but other governments around the country,” he said.
The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said 150,000 people in the state had received a vaccine – either the first shot or the second shot or both. Of these, she said 100,000 were provided by the state government, while just 50,000 were provided by the commonwealth.
“Please note, as many of you here and at home would know, for many weeks I have been saying to the commonwealth, to the federal government, that NSW is ready and willing to make sure that we support you in the vaccine rollout,” she said.
“What we are saying to the commonwealth is we will have at least 100 hubs across the state, please allow us to work with you so that we have a chance of meeting the October deadline. We have put this request in and I am going to write formally to the prime minister today.”
She added it was “extremely unfair” that the federal government was giving the state just 24 to 48 hours notice about how many new doses were incoming, and that it was time to “put the facts on the table” about the rollout.
Guardian Australia has asked the health minister, Greg Hunt, for detail on what proportion of the 1.4m doses promised as part of 1a have been administered, but is yet to receive a response.
The Queensland Labor premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, backed the NSW criticism, accusing the federal government of an “orchestrated attack against the states and territories”.
“It really is quite outrageous. I mean, God knows, they’ve got a lot to deflect from right now,” Palaszczuk said.
The agreement between the states and territories and the commonwealth leaves responsibility for 70% of the vaccination task with the federal government, Palaszczuk said. Like Hazzard, she said the state government was not regularly updated about supply.
“We need surety of supply by the federal government, and if the states are releasing their figures every day, I think that it is only fair, fair and reasonable, that the federal government releases its figures every day,” she said.
Miles, the state’s deputy premier, weighed in on Twitter, responding to comments made by Littleproud on Nine’s Today program on Wednesday. Littleproud said: “If the federal government hasn’t done their job, we deserve an uppercut. But let me say the states have been sitting on their hands, they’ve been too complacent.”
Miles retorted that Littleproud should “give himself an uppercut”.
“Federal government ministers have once again lined up to attack Queensland over our Covid response,” he wrote on Twitter.
“They attacked our borders and they attacked our lockdowns. Now they’re attacking our vaccine progress, something THEY’RE responsible. This morning David Littleproud said that the federal government should get an uppercut if the vaccine rollout wasn’t up to scratch. Well he should give himself an uppercut.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the ACT health minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, said comments from some commonwealth ministers had been “extremely disappointing and betray a real lack of understanding”. She noted the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, had not made comments blaming the states. Hunt is due to give an update on the rollout after 3pm.
The saga prompted the Greens on Wednesday to call for an urgent independent review into what they described as “the serious and widespread problems with Australia’s vaccine rollout”.
“The vaccine rollout for which both the federal and state governments have responsibility is having more than so called ‘teething problems’ and these are having real-world consequences with the latest Covid-19 outbreaks spreading in Queensland and threatening in NSW,” the Greens spokesperson on health, senator Rachel Siewert, said.
“Targets have well and truly been missed. There are low supplies of vaccine and some of what vaccine is available is apparently sitting unused. It appears there is poor communication between levels of government, and some doctors are reported to be requiring pre-vaccination consultations. Frontline workers and vulnerable people are being let down. We are a month into the vaccine rollout and we still haven’t vaccinated all of our frontline workers, aged care and disability care staff.
“It appears that the only way to get governments to take responsibility for these failures is through an urgent and rapid independent review to identify and fix the current issues.”