How did Canberra become the most vaccinated city in the world? - Speech, House of Representatives


Over recent months, Canberrans have rolled up our sleeves and got vaccinated. Today Canberra became the first state or territory in Australia to have more than 80 per cent of the over-12 population vaccinated. Ninety-nine per cent of Canberra's adults have had a first dose. Under the leadership of Andrew Barr, Rachel Stephen-Smith and Kerryn Coleman, we are on track to become the most vaccinated city in the world.

Why has Canberra done so well? It's true that Canberra is the most progressive jurisdiction in Australia: socially inclusive and internationally engaged. We're quick to take up new technologies and are enthusiastic about education. When I've spoken in this place about refugees, international development, marriage equality or climate change, I know I've been speaking for my electors.

But while Canberrans are progressive, we've also shown a commitment to old-fashioned values: hard work, putting the community first, caring for others, respecting your neighbours, taking care of the elderly and looking after children. What Canberra has done in recent months might have surprised others, but it didn't strike me as unusual. Canberrans have high levels of community trust. We're more likely to join, volunteer and donate, and less likely to drop litter on the ground. This isn't just Australia's bush capital, it's the nation's social capital.

Canberrans' willingness to get vaccinated in record numbers reflects the altruism and deep sense of honesty in our community. We don't have much patience with shysters or hucksters. We trust the experts and their hard-won wisdom. We care about family. We keep our promises. Canberra is an inclusive community and we know that the best way to protect those whose health is compromised is for everyone else to get vaccinated.

Of course, Canberra didn't just become altruistic in the last few months. If we'd had enough vaccine we could have hit our vaccination targets months ago. In July 2020 the Prime Minister had the chance to buy enough doses of Pfizer to vaccinate every Australian adult for about a billion Australian dollars. He chose not to take that deal. At the same time as he was giving $20 billion of JobKeeper to firms with rising revenues, he wouldn't pay $1 billion for enough Pfizer to vaccinate every Australian adult. So make no mistake, these latest lockdowns have been the Morrison lockdowns. If we'd started the vaccination program when Britain, the US, Canada and Israel did so, make no mistake: these latest lockdowns have been the Morrison lockdowns. If we'd started the vaccination program when the US, the UK, Canada and Israel did, then half of Australia would not have spent the past few months in lockdown, and some of the 1,543 Australians who died from COVID would be alive today. But, late as it is, Canberra is coming out of lockdown. Thank you, Ken Behrens.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.