Business leaders around the country met with treasurer Josh Frydenberg today in the hopes of helping to get Australia’s vaccine rollout moving at a faster pace.
Chief executives from some of the country’s biggest retail businesses, such as Woolworths, Coles, and Wesfarmers, together with business leaders of other sectors, are offering to do inhouse vaccinations for their staff and, in some cases, set up mass vaccination centres in locations central to local population – something retailers are uniquely positioned to offer.
Frydenberg called it a “team Australia moment”.
“Today’s cooperation with the business community came as we moved into a new phase of our Covid response – in particular, the acceleration of the rollout of the vaccine,” Frydenberg said.
“We have about 300,000 Pfizer vaccines coming in each week which will increase to around 600,000 to 700,000 by the end of July and into August and the expectation is around 2 million by October – This is where the involvement of the Australian business community will be so important.
“And today we discussed how we can incorporate an issue such as transport, premises, immunity engagement, as well as communication.”
And, according to the ABC, business in on board with incentivising vaccinations: offering up free frequent flyer points and other things that are worth “more than a snag at Bunnings”.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said it’s important for businesses to work together with the government to help get the vaccine rolled out as fast as possible once supply opens up – with Frydenberg predicting Australia’s weekly supply of vaccines to almost double by the end of July, and to hit two million a week in October.
“[It’s important] that we bring the resources and expertise of the corporate sector and really supercharge the vaccine when the supply arrives in the next couple of months,” Westacott said.
“And today we start doing the preparatory work so we can really get cracking when the supply gets here.”
There have been hints at on-site vaccination centres popping up in retailer’s carparks before, with Bunnings having offered to do so three months ago.
Shadow education minister Tanya Plibersek said she welcomed the roundtable, but said that it is “frankly incredible” that the Government is only just having these conversations.
“You look overseas and you have well over half the population vaccinated, in comparable countries,” Plibersek said, according to the ABC.
“We have a strong health systems. We have a willing population. And we are at the bottom of the pack, internationally, for vaccination rates. It beggars belief.”
More to come.