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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2597 ..


Mrs Jones: The question was about compensation. There has been no mention whatsoever of compensation and the minister will end up finishing before she gets to it. It is on relevance.

MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones, there is no point of order. I cannot, as you well know, direct the minister to respond in a way that you would like. I think she is in the policy area; therefore, it is appropriate.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am not aware that I have been approached in relation to the matter of compensation by any individual. I am sure that Canberrans actually understand that our health team was working as hard and as fast as it could to ensure that everybody who was due to leave quarantine could do so.

MR HANSON: A supplementary, Madam Speaker. Minister, why have there been a series of so-called system errors that have led to IT failures and jammed phone lines, when the ACT had such a long head start of no cases for a year?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I think I can use two words to answer that question: Delta variant.

COVID-19—vaccination rollout

MRS JONES: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, in the last five weeks we have seen: people sent home after waiting hours and hours for a vaccine they had booked, because of an apparent issue with the booking system, and over 170 doses of Pfizer vaccine discarded because of bungling; Canberrans waiting for 10-plus hours on the phone to ACT Health to be allowed out of quarantine and getting nowhere; the booking system for the vaccine often completely overwhelmed; waiting lines for testing with no toilets or water at the beginning of the outbreak; and phone systems regularly unable to cope or crashing. Why, when we have had 18 months since COVID arrived in the world to prepare for this outbreak, were we so woefully unprepared for the realities of it?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I can assure people that no-one was sent home from the Australian Institute of Sport arena vaccination clinic. People who had bookings later in the evening were rebooked for later in the week, so that the team could get through everybody who was already waiting at the AIS arena. The team then implemented their wastage policy, to ensure that, with the additional vaccination doses that had been drawn up, as many of those as possible could be used. This team is incredibly efficient and has frequently been getting seven doses out of the six-dose phials. I think that accusing them of bungling, accusing them of not doing their jobs properly, is absolutely outrageous. There was a human error in the programming of the appointments for that day, and the team dealt with it extraordinarily well, given the circumstances that they faced.

In relation to the broader questions that Mrs Jones has raised, for our population size, and having regard to the speed with which this outbreak took off and the number of contacts that were identified in the first few days of the pandemic, it is not comparable


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