Press Conference – Castle Hill, NSW

THE HON. GREG HUNT MP, MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: Well welcome everybody to the Castle Hill Medical Centre, it’s a privilege to be joined here by Australians such as Jane, and John, Brett, and Mila and of course, the Prime Minister, The Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Professor Paul Kelly, the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer of Australia, Professor Alison McMillan, and the Member for Mitchell, Alex Hawke.

Today marks the commencement of Australia’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. It’s an important step for Australia. Australians have stood shoulder to shoulder over the course of the last year, and now they are putting their shoulders to the job. They are making themselves available. And over the course of this week, we hope to see over 60,000 vaccinations, 240 different aged care centres, 190 towns, and suburbs around the country from Alice Springs to Albany, to Altona Meadows and so many others. But we have, in order to provide confidence, we had a group of Australians that represent our disability residents and workers, our aged care residents and workers, our frontline border protection workers. And of course, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer in order to provide confidence, the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nurse and the Prime Minister of Australia.

With that I am delighted to introduce the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you Greg, and Alison and Paul, Alex. Of course, to you Greg and the wonderful team at the Department of Health who have done just such an extraordinary job in preparing for what is the biggest vaccination effort our country has ever undertaken.

This is an historic day for Australia. Jane Malysiak has seen many historic days in Australia over the course of her more than 80 years of life. She grew up in Poland in the Depression, she went through to the Second World War. She came to Australia. She built a wonderful life and is still living it gloriously today. And to have her here today and so many others who have joined us both in the front line of those who we know are most vulnerable, and in the front line who protect them. Whether it’s those working in quarantine on our border force or those working with the aged, the aged care facilities and home care, or those working with disability care and indeed those vulnerable Australians as well.

What we’re demonstrating today is our priorities on those Australians. What we’re demonstrating today is our confidence. I am supremely confident in the expert process that has been led to get us to this day. So from tomorrow, tens of thousands of Australians over the course of the next week will confidently come forward from those key priority groups that have been defined to ensure that we move into this next phase of how we’ve been preparing and dealing with COVID-19.

I said at the outset we were going to make our Australian way through this pandemic. And the Australian way has proved to be when you look around the world, one of the most effective there is. And the reason for that, in my view, has consistently been the strength and resilience of the Australian people, the expertise that they’ve had available to them under the stewardship of Professor Kelly and Professor Murphy and so many others around the country has been exemplary. But it has been the response and the responsibility of Australians each and every day through this pandemic that has seen our Australian way through. And I say to my fellow Australians, now, the next step of that journey begins.

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