Canberra is doing far too little, far too late to seek help from industry in manufacturing the key tools Australia needs to weather the coronavirus pandemic.
China alerted the WHO in December of the first cases of coronavirus, but it is only this week that Canberra seems to have taken any action to mobilise manufacturers to provide such things as masks and ventilators that we currently import.
As @AuManufacturing reported it was Tuesday that the government issued a request for information from companies capable of supplying medical personal protective equipment (PPE).
This includes surgical gowns, gloves, goggles, hand sanitisers, clinical waste bags, waste bag closure devices (ties), blood and fluid spill kits, mask fit test kits and thermometers.
And on the said day we revealed that a dozen Australian Defence Force engineers are assisting manufacturer Med-Con keep up with increased demand due to the outbreak.
Yesterday industry minister was interviewed by Chris Kenny on Sky news and repeated these same two examples, plus copious platitudes about how much the government is doing.
Well the true picture of how little has been done came yesterday when 97,000 virus test kits arrived in Australia and were greeted with great relief.
One of the reasons Australia’s infection rate appears to be low is that people are simply not being tested, but told to stay at home instead.
And frankly, 97,000 kits are not going to last very long.
While other countries are converting factories that make perfume to make hand sanitiser, and Britain has asked Rolls Royce to make ventilators, we are still reliant on imports and requesting information.
Sorry, this government should have been lining up manufacturers of sanitiser and masks in January, or even February when the virus had already taken hold in Italy.
We should be making our own test kits right now.
Far from being a world-leading response the the cronavirus, Australia has drifted along, and now as the situation gets serious, we have a PR campaign to make us believe the government has this under control.
I am calling this irresponsible behaviour out – Canberra, this is not good enough.
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