Over the last two months, most of Australia has been plunged into uncertainty, disruption and crisis as a result of the failures of the Morrison government. That is particularly true of my electorate and the electorate of McMahon. The Prime Minister had two jobs during the pandemic—to vaccinate the population quickly and efficiently and to provide an effective quarantine system. He's failed on both counts, and our community in south-west Sydney has been the hardest hit. Once again, we're fighting a COVID outbreak. With it, businesses are on the brink of closing, workers don't know if they have a job in the next month, and families are scraping by to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head. I've spoken to them, and they are desperate and distraught. Unfortunately, in New South Wales, we've seen delays and unsurprising hesitancy as a result of mixed messaging, leading to devastating consequences.
Last year, the Prime Minister said, 'The best protection against the virus is to live with the virus, to live alongside the virus and to open up your economy.' More recently, just days before the New South Wales Premier called the lockdown, he commended the Premier on her resistance to doing just that. Well, look how well that's worked out for Sydney, New South Wales and our country. As with so many inconvenient facts, there is always a new set of talking points from the Prime Minister to spin his way out of a jail of his own making. Yesterday, in the Australian, the Prime Minister was reported as saying, 'The idea that you can just let this rip and ignore it is just not an option. It's fanciful, foolish and dangerous.' At a time of national emergency, when we need genuine leadership, all we get from this Prime Minister are days of long disappearing acts, with occasional spurts of spin, followed by further hiding. This is a prime minister who is out of his depth, and Australians are paying the price.
As we've seen time and time again, both here and abroad, COVID-19 and the delta variant will not be eradicated by politics. What will stop the virus is vaccination. But we have a government obsessed with scoring political points, and, as a result, we have bungled the vaccine rollout. We are last in the developed world when it comes to having our population vaccinated, and the delta variant is racing through Sydney and the country. Recent media reports have revealed that the Morrison government met with Pfizer in July last year and was offered as many doses as it needed in January this year. There is still no explanation from the government about why the offer was rejected. The government decided the vaccine rollout was not a race and, as a result, we simply don't have enough supply of vaccines now. The latest outbreak was preventable, but, due to government incompetence, here we are—lives lost, businesses ruined, and people struggling to make ends meet.
My electorate is ground zero as evidence of this bungled vaccine rollout. Five weeks ago, a family in my electorate booked their vaccine appointments with their local GP, who'd advertised they were administering Pfizer. Two days before the appointment, they received a text message advising them that the vaccine hadn't arrived. Their appointment has since been rescheduled to later in August. Several members of the household work in retail; another is a school teacher. One of their workplaces was recently listed as an exposure site. They say they feel like sitting ducks. They worry that, without access to the vaccine, it's only a matter of time before they are infected. The government put all their eggs in one basket and now Australians like this hardworking family are paying the price.
As Australian borders are effectively closed and Australians are locked down, the world is opening up. Music festivals, art shows and sporting events around the world are returning with huge crowds—a view into a post-COVID world. However, we can't get the vaccine rollout on track. Labor is calling on the government to pay $300 to Australians to be vaccinated by 1 December. Give them some hope. Allow them to be paid so that they can get vaccinated without losing a day's pay. Despite the Prime Minister's recent comments, this is a race. It is a race to stop another lockdown by fixing the vaccination rollout and establishing purpose-built quarantine. Hotels are for tourists, not for quarantine. We've had 28 leaks from hotel quarantine. We are 18 months into this pandemic, and the government still doesn't have a safe national quarantine system. Quarantine is a federal responsibility. We need a network of purpose-built facilities now. It is time that we stepped up. My community needs it, and it needs it now before more people die and more people get sick.