SENATOR PENNY WONG
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
PAT CONROY MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE PACIFIC
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR DEFENCE
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
MEMBER FOR SHORTLAND
The Morrison Government must speed up and step up the support it is providing to Papua New Guinea, given the "clear and present danger" the growing COVID-19 crisis there presents.
Labor is calling on the Morrison Government to provide the following assistance as soon as possible:
- Fast-tracking the vaccine rollout including providing enough vaccines so that every frontline health worker in Papua New Guinea is vaccinated
- As much Personal Protective Equipment as the Papua New Guinean Government needs
- More rapid testing kits to boost testing rates
- Increased health infrastructure to help with testing and vaccination
Health Minister Greg Hunt reportedly used the phrase "clear and present danger" while discussing the crisis with Coalition colleagues today.
But so far all we’ve had in response is bureaucratic spin, one deployment of a three person AUSMAT team, and a commitment to roll out vaccines in late April.
For such a "clear and present danger", it’s a vague and slow response.
At his press conference yesterday, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape said that 97 new cases of COVID-19 had been detected in the past 24 hours.
This came after alarming comments from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who said that of the 500 tests QLD health authorities had assisted Papua New Guinea with, 250 came back positive.
The Morrison Government has failed to take proactive steps to work with PNG to stop the spread of the virus and is instead leaving it to Queensland health authorities to do the heavy lifting through their COVID-19 testing assistance.
Last year the Morrison Government insisted the Parliament pass legislation stipulating that foreign relations were Federal responsibilities.
Containing PNG’s outbreak is a core foreign policy, national security and domestic health issue for Australia.
Not only is it important to provide additional support to protect our Pacific neighbour’s citizens, it’s in Australia’s interests to prevent an outbreak so close to our border.
The Morrison Government must ensure its Pacific Step-up is more than just a slogan and provide Papua New Guinea with immediate and increased assistance to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in our region.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.