Tensions between the states and the federal government hit boiling point on Tuesday, with Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia calling for greater transparency around the way vaccines are being allocated.
The three Labor states presented a united front on Tuesday, sick of being told they were lagging behind on their vaccination rate, when so many of their vaccine doses were being sent to NSW, and attacked the handling of the vaccine allocation.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews was furious with the handling of vaccine distribution, claiming that some of the allocations to NSW had been ‘under the table’ with no transparency and against the spirit of what had been agreed at national cabinet.
“I signed up to a national plan to vaccinate our nation, not a national plan to vaccinate Sydney,” Mr Andrews said. “We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of vaccines that should have come here going into Sydney, into GP practices and into NSW.
“There is something like 340,000 doses that have not come to Victoria that ought to have. It would mean we were closer to 70 or 80 per cent and closer to ending these lockdowns, so you can see a sense of frustration and in others a sense of anger.
“We are talking about otherwise secret arrangements that are just not right. They need to stop and there needs to be additional supplies provided to Victoria and other states who have missed out.
“Some don’t like to see this as a race but a race it surely is. What I didn’t know was that (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian is in a sprint while the rest of us are supposed to do some sort of egg and spoon thing.
“These allocations, which are totally unfair and were under the table, need to stop and we need to get a make-good. We need to get those doses we didn’t get fast-tracked to us.”
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan also called for more COVID-19 vaccines to ensure the state received its fair share, after the government had supported the extra jabs for NSW.
“The states which provided that additional support to NSW now need to be given out catch-up supplies, in particular of Pfizer,” Mr McGowan said.
“We can’t have a situation where some states are punished for doing the right thing for NSW.
“You can’t have a situation where you’re penalised when you give your doses to NSW and you don’t get a proper full catch-up.”
Mr McGowan said it was not fair that the federal government spent time criticising WA’s vaccination rate, given that so much of its supply went to helping Sydney.
“We supported the extra half a million Polish doses going to NSW,” he said. “We supported each and every time the federal government brought forward supply.
“It was the best part of a million extra doses above their per capita share went to NSW.”
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles was scathing in his assessment of the extra Pfizer allocation for NSW and called for greater transparency around these decisions.
“The nerve of (health minister) Greg Hunt to be out there criticising Queensland, calling us laggards, when he knows full well how many vaccines he is taking from Queensland to give to NSW, and he knows full well that we are fully utilising our allocation,” Mr Miles said.
“If it was just because of the outbreak, then why would they be taking vaccines off Victoria as well, to send to NSW? All we are asking for here is some honesty.”
Mr Hunt dismissed concerns that the recent vaccine allocation was being unfairly distributed, saying that both Victoria and Queensland had received additional vaccines, above their per capita share.
“It would be almost unimaginable not to be providing the support … to those most in need at their time of greatest need,” Mr Hunt said on Tuesday evening.
“As we have had outbreaks, we have prioritised those areas to save lives. In particular, we started with prioritising Victoria when there was a Victorian outbreak.
“Every state and every territory receives a per capita allocation, and where there is … an outbreak, as we did with Victoria, which we prioritised when they had an outbreak, we made sure that saving lives has been at the heart of what we are doing.”
Mr Hunt also announced that the government has secured an additional 1.7 million vaccine doses from Singapore.
Do you think that the federal government is playing favourites with the vaccine allocation or is it just providing the vaccines where they are needed most? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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