In 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had two jobs – roll out the coronavirus vaccine and fix the nation’s broken quarantine system.
Mr Morrison has failed on both counts.
The vaccine rollout is running months behind schedule in Australia. Targets have been missed. General practitioners have been unable to secure vaccine supplies. Vulnerable people in aged care facilities and disability group homes have been left unvaccinated.
And Mr Morrison has simply refused to step up to his Constitutional responsibilities on quarantine.
Instead of building dedicated quarantine facilities, he has instead left the state governments of Australia to quarantine people arriving from overseas in hotels that are designed for tourism, not quarantine.
These failures are so start, Australia is backsliding. Sydney and Melbourne are in lockdown.
People once again are in hospital.
People once again have lost their jobs.
But Mr Morrison’s failures are also having real consequences on Greek-Australian families and all Australians from migrant backgrounds who maintain strong links to the nations of their families’ origins.
Families in Australia are being kept apart – separated from loved ones because this Government can’t get its act together.
All Australians were supposed to have been vaccinated by the end of this year.
And with the pandemic now stretching over 18 months, the Australian Government has had ample time to build such quarantine centres.
Now we are told the Government won’t be on top of these issues until at least the middle of next year.
That’s another year of the pain of being separated from family. Another year in which the Australian nation will be unable to fully reopen its economy and get Australians back to work.
All Australians, including Greek Australians, have been magnificent during the pandemic. We’ve followed the health advice and worked together through lockdowns.
This, combined with political bipartisanship and co-operation between all levels of government, has allowed Australia to come through the health crisis much better than many other countries.
After all that effort, Australians deserve something better than a Federal Government letting them down on the critical measures that will steer our nation out of the pandemic and establish a basis for rebuilding our economy so it is more diverse, vibrant and able to produce more jobs.
The links between Australian and Greece are incredibly deep.
The quarantine and vaccine failures are fraying the ties that bind families together.
But there is also an economic impact.
People from Europe, including Greece, account for about 250,000 visitors per year, spending over a $1 Billion in the Australian economy.
Mr Morrison needs to get his act together. This isn’t rocket science.
He should immediately commence work on dedicated quarantine facilities.
He should fix the flawed vaccination rollout.
He should kickstart local manufacturing of mRNA vaccines.
And he should start a mass advertising campaign to ensure Australians understand the benefits of vaccination.
Critically, that campaign must be reflected in the over 200 different languages that are spoken in this country.
It is incredible to think that five months after vaccinations commenced, the Government has failed to conduct a proper public information campaign including in community languages.
During eight long years in office, the Coalition has spent $1 billion of public money advertising itself and its achievements.
But now when we need a genuine public campaign to help beat the pandemic, Mr Morrison has gone missing.
Anthony Albanese is the Leader of the Australian Labor Party
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