Morrison's stumble over vaccines

The Grapevine can now reveal that Freedom of Information documents have confirmed that Scott Morrison’s Government failed to take up Pfizer’s initial offers to secure an early supply of vaccines to Australia.

9 September 2021


WHILE countries like the UK and the US were busy signing vaccine supply deals with Pfizer in July 2020, the Morrison Government ignored Pfizer’s request for urgent meetings.


The FOI documents confirm:


  • In June 2020, Pfizer first wrote to the Government about vaccine supply, not the other way around;


  • In the weeks that followed, the Government rejected a Pfizer offer to meet with the Health Minister;


  • The Government rejected an offer to meet with senior members of Pfizer global leadership;


  • Instead, a First Assistant Secretary had an introductory meeting with Pfizer Australia; and


  • Pfizer made clear it wanted to move quickly and said it had the potential to supply millions of doses in 2020.


The vaccine rollout was always a race, but Australia started a lap behind because Scott Morrison’s Government took a deliberate “wait and see” approach to vaccine deals.


And despite Scott Morrison’s bogus claims that Australia was at the “front of the queue”, it never was. Our vaccine supply deals with Pfizer weren’t signed until Christmas Eve 2020.


Now Australians are paying the price of Scott Morrison’s failures; there are more people in lockdown and fewer people fully vaccinated than any other developed country.


Yet, it didn’t have to be this way. From mid last year, Pfizer has been reaching out to the Government. Knocking on the door. Emailing the department. But no one from Morrison’s Government wanted to meet with them.


Last year Australia was in crisis and vaccines were the only way out. But for some reason, Scott Morrison was too busy to sign a vaccine deal with Pfizer.


And what about the secrecy on indigenous vaccine rates?


It’s time for the Morrison Government to end its secrecy on First Nations vaccination data and take responsibility for vaccination rates amongst First Nations people, which continue to fall further behind. 

Over the past two weeks, the gap between First Nations and the general population vaccination rate has grown from 18.5 to 21.4 percentage points.

It’s now been reported in the Northern Territory News that the Government is refusing to provide local vaccination rates to media.


So, why all the secrecy?

The Government even refused to provide local government level information when ordered by the Senate.

Meanwhile, the situation in Western and Far West NSW continues to deteriorate, with almost 1,000 cases – the vast majority of which is estimated to be First Nations.

Bourke has recorded a total of 84 cases and Wilcannia has recorded a total of 109 cases.

The Government has been caught scrambling – announcing a vaccine drive in 30 communities six months after the beginning of the vaccine rollout and over a month since the outbreak in the western division of NSW.

But it’s unable to say which communities will be part of this drive, or when.

This is unacceptable – the Government needs to release this information so Australia knows where vaccination rates need to catch up.

Grapevine News Online

Central Coast NSW

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