In properly-scrutinised vaccination rollouts it is to be expected that vaccines are used as a device to protect the most vulnerable and otherwise to provide the most effective shield against spread of disease. In our federation the starting point is an equitable pro rata state allocation of vaccine. However, allowance should be made for targeting susceptible communities.
These matters should be thrashed out at national cabinet. We should not have allocation unilaterally determined. However, decisions around allocation have been far from transparent. It appears that Lieutenant General Frewen has been saddled with the unsavoury responsibility of explaining the recent extra distributions to NSW, thereby giving less to other states. Lt Gen Frewen has allocated the extra supplies, including those from Poland, on the flimsy, implausible basis that ‘the GP clinics had recently come online’.
Extra acquisition and supply-chain logistics are not justification for inequitable supply. An inequitable distribution should only be done by agreement with all states/territories. Given that the PM talks about the premiers and chief ministers agreeing to ‘open up’ once states and territories reach 70–80 per cent vaccination rates, there is a clear focus on consensus. So shouldn’t any departure from a pro rata distribution to states also be by consensus?
Nor does correcting the numbers later on by increased allocations to a previously short-changed state cut it… if that course has not been agreed at National Cabinet. Hell, why call it ‘National Cabinet’ and spruik its consensus approach if you undermine its basic principles?
There is also a troubling politicisation of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). It raises the ghosts of unexplained ‘operational matters’ from the PM’s immigration days, which smacks of blame shifting by the PM.