Morrison caught in web of vaccine lies

Courtesy of Bernard Keane at Crikey:

Scott Morrison’s story on why the vaccine rollout is a disaster keeps changing. And it has nothing to do with 3.1 million vaccines doses held up by Europe (a claim the EU denies, in any event).

Yesterday, when asked why the government was so badly adrift of its initial forecast that 4 million people would be vaccinated by the end of March, Morrison replied:

You talked about the 4 million figure. Well the simple explanation of that is 3 million — 3.1 million vaccines — that never came to Australia. And so that is the reason. Back in early January we had anticipated we would have those 3.1 million vaccines. Those 3.1 million vaccines were not supplied to Australia, and that explains the difference between the numbers you are referring to, and we made that very clear back in February. So to — and we made it very clear that they were indicative figures that we were working to at that time based on the information that we had.

The 4 million target dates were from January, before the Europeans announced vaccine export bans (although that they would do so was predicted and the government was fully aware of the risk). By the time of the government’s formal March 14 rollout schedule, that target had been revised down to around 1.8 million vaccinations. The government had incorporated the European ban into its planning. On page 10 of the document, under the “Indicative Vaccine Dosage Schedule”, there’s a note in small print “Does not include 3.1 million international AZ doses or COVAX doses”.

Except we didn’t even come vaguely close to reaching that revised 1.8 million figure: fewer than 700,000 doses were delivered by the end of March. That had nothing to do with the failure to receive 3.1 million doses.

Or maybe Morrison hadn’t read the March rollout schedule? Oh, but wait, Morrison launched the schedule on March 14 and stood next to Health secretary Brendan Murphy while he went through it. And what did Murphy say?

We only got 300,000 of the 3.8 million in February and then another 400,000 of AstraZeneca from overseas has only just arrived recently. So we’re 3.1 million doses short of AstraZeneca vaccine from what we thought we would have in that initial ramp up … The international AstraZeneca we are not confident, we haven’t factored in getting any more of that. [emphasis added]

Nor was Murphy somehow mistaken. After the Europeans announced the bans, Hunt rather airily claimed Australia was exempt, saying “our advice is that our vaccine supply and guidance remains on track, those dates that we provided earlier on in the week, followed discussions with country heads of Pfizer and AstraZeneca, took into account supply and regulatory conditions within Europe and have been reaffirmed in the last 24 hours.”

But by March 5, once it was clear that Hunt’s optimism was ill-founded, the rollout schedule was adjusted to reflect the missing 3.1 million doses. Hunt said that day “we had planned the AstraZeneca rollout based solely on those 300,000 doses that had arrived in Australia, and we were very, very cautious on that front”. Hunt repeated that on March 18 “we haven’t factored any of the remaining 3.1 million AstraZeneca vaccines into Australia’s rollout, we’ve taken the most cautious approach”. He re-affirmed that a few days later, on March 22, at which point the government was starting to come under pressure on the botched rollout.

So, I think the important [thing] is if we can get part of the 3.1 million, because we’re not counting them in [our] forward projections in Australia — so these are the 3.1 million AstraZeneca doses which to date haven’t been released — they would effectively represent additional supply without having to draw on Australia’s doses. [emphasis added]

By last week, though, when the media were beginning to savage the rollout, Hunt was changing his tune. “We’ve made sure that we have an international supply, but frankly, we’ve seen a massive impost on that — 3.1 million doses which were due haven’t arrived from Europe and we understand the circumstances,” he responded to questions about the slow pace of the rollout.

This week, the Europeans have been elevated to the chief villains of the piece by Morrison, despite their actions having nothing to do with why we missed his revised schedule by more than a million.

The government all along insisted that it had enough AstraZeneca doses to get us to the point where our “sovereign manufacturing capacity” could start producing enough vaccines. Hunt said on March 5 “we have sufficient AstraZeneca to take us through to the arrival of the CSL doses.”

Except, the government is refusing to say how many doses CSL is manufacturing. Directly asked yesterday, Morrison obfuscated: “It varies from week to week. We are still in the early phases so it would be misleading, I think, to give you an average at this point.” Murphy responded to a direct question by Leigh Sales last night with a similar word salad, as part of a train wreck interview in which he insisted the rollout was running perfectly.

Does anyone seriously think if CSL was churning out huge numbers that the government wouldn’t be crowing about it?

The changing stories, the misleading responses, the refusal to provide hard numbers — it increasingly looks like another cover-up of another government stuff-up. One with dramatic implications for Australians’ health and wealth.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. 4,200 we come

    The Oxford vaccine causes blood clots too!

    All the experts said a few weeks ago it was simply untrue, there’s no proof, that this is anti-vaxxer hysteria and misinformation.

    But they were wrong — again!

    Don’t listen to the experts! Don’t trust the experts — ever!!

  2. TheLambKingMEMBER

    “There’s a shortage of materials, of products that you need for the manufacturing of vaccines and for the vials, the glass, the plastic and the stoppers – everything that goes with that,” WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said in a World Bank discussion last week.”

    Plenty of vaccine being made by CSL. They have nothing to put them in or inject it with (apparently.) But then, a competent government would have been stockpiling this stuff for a year now wouldn’t it?

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      Completely predictable 12 months ago. They did nothing, and are still doing nothing.

      To the LNP, manufacturing means Unions, and in their idiot minds, Unions are bad.

      Deadsh!ts. All of them.

      PS: All that local Defence spending to boost the SA economy includes hotel stays, car hire and meals for visiting French engineers. Agh, fknuckles! Very little local ‘high skill’ manufacturing. Really. LNP is a euphemism for Cretin.

    • BornwildMEMBER

      This! ScoMo is in the same boat as the idiotic EU leadership. You know a vaccine is your only way out of this pandemic and it is being created yet you don’t start working on making sure that all the manufacturing logistics is taken care off. Even the idea of betting on certain vaccines was dumb! Australia should have been on the list of all the credible ones – better to have excess vaccines than the opposite.

        • The Traveling Wilbur

          This line of logic is extremely testing.
          I’d prefer it if you stoppered it immediately.

          PS I’ve heard the AFP are looking into the vials’ disappearance, but aren’t having much luck with evidence gathering yet – it’s as if all the evidence that could have shed light on the relevant events has been disappeared too. Once source reports it’s as if it’s been sterilised even.

  3. I heard a decent amount of the CSL AZ vaccines are ready to go but pending approval by AZ Europe of results from batch samples. Pesky quality control.

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        A truly loathsome creature. Never really knew what one was until now. There was always an idea about what constitutes a loathsome creature but it was always like an imaginary figure from a Discworld novel. But no, there it is.

        A loathsome creature.

        • The Traveling Wilbur

          Discworld? Close. But when Scumo takes his glasses off he dead-set reminds me of LOTR’s Gollum. Equally repellant and despicable – and without the urge to ever give him a hug that Tolkien wrote into at least a couple of passages.

          PS I miss The Patrician. The book and the MB version both.

        • In the old Australia, young blokes would of followed a great leader into war, this bloke Scumo has no leadership qualities at all.
          A liar, no morals, shifts blame..
          Where can we find a decent Prime Minister , one that all Australians can look up to, with a decency, a true leader, that you can trust?.

        • When I look at Morrison, I see the average voter. He’s not really capable of actually creating anything… like the Australian economy in general. He’s in favour of locking up families in camps without charge indefinitely… just as the Labor party and the average Australian are. He doesn’t care about promoting industry (except that owned by his masters; mining companies, News Corporation, and the FIRE sector), and would rather create economic activity by boosting house prices through massive immigration at the expense of Australia’s youth… just like the average Australian. He has utter contempt for the youth of the country, and is quite happy to ruin their futures with policies that sell out their future for a sugar hit today… just like the average Australian voter.

          On average, Scott Morrison is simply a composite of the Australian electorate. This is why Reusa, aside from being hilarious every time, is the most predictive person here. You see, Reusa understands Australians, and that you’ve gotta have a go to get a go, and that we want lifters not leaners, and the way to get ahead in Australia is the safe-as-houses always-goes-up absolute-winner bet on buying more houses.

          As Reusa would say, youse guys need to embrace the Liberal Nationalist Party and get with the prosperity housing programme. The alternative is to be a loser who won’t “get ahead” in today’s Australia.

          So don’t loathe ScoMo. He’s the most Australian guy around. Your options are to join ScoMo and get ahead, GTFO of the country, or be a loser. Choose wisely.

      • Well sh!t, you know, the world moves on. Previously it was fashionable to stomp on executive excess. But nowadays, who wants to be seen as ending the career of a successful female.

        • (1) the review found that giving the watches as a form of bonus was within the rules set by the board.

          (2) the board, including the chairman, knew of and signed off on the watches going to the execs.

          Meanwhile the boss of ASIC, who racked up over $100k in costs for private tax advice, was allowed to move on in his own good time. The difference in treatment between the two stands out like bull [email protected] / cow teats.


    Sciency and health stuff are complicated if one is not suitably trained.
    Should have broken the rollout process down into easy to understand language and asked for a 60 day settlement that was unconditional.

    • The Travelling Albatross

      I think Chris is having a well earned holiday and must be enjoying massages and pinacolladas now.
      Reusa invited him to a party on swings too

  5. The Travelling Albatross

    Trying to share a link about bogan car bubble in Oz, Gavin’s opinion would be great, but seems the link is triggering the
    ” push thus link and comment to no where”

    • NO Bubble but a redistribution of preferences on stock available, did you see the 20%+ on Benz utes once the market got whiff it was over. Brother in law with full kit 63 CLE AMG one of only two in colour in OZ grabbed on on the last in Vic, previous bells Nissan owner. My 2006 Toyota Diesel ute is worth more now than what I bought it for 4 years ago only due to its ability to tow and low running costs.

    • Going off gumtree, my Jimny has gone from $14k to $23k+ in the two years I’ve owned it. I’m a god-damn investing genius. My meme focussed crypto piss farting around is also bringing in the paper gains. Have they found someone boring to sit next to Koshie? I could have what it takes to be the next personality void to drain life from the viewers of morning tv.

  6. So I just had a random conversation with a neighbor in my building who works for CSL as a chemical engineer.

    Says the issue is with EU, because even though the vaccine is made in Australia, because AstraZenca is EU based, the regulators in EU need to also approve every batch, not just the TGA.

    Who ever drew up this licensing agreement is an amateur lol

  7. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I can’t wait for Scomo and the great Liberal Nationalist Party to romp it in at the next election just so I can absorb all of youse lot’s depression! Haha. Even thinking about it gives me bliss, but not of the massage kind.

  8. It is amusing and highly entertaining. 12 months ago, the commenters here thought we were all going to die. COVID was the end of times and the zombie apocalypse was upon us. People were posting all sorts of doom and the thought of vaccines was a laughable proposition if thought of at all. Indeed there had never been a successful vaccine for a coronavirus intoned the MB brains trust.
    Fast forward to today and it was obvious, so obvious I tell ya, the government should have massively over-ordered multiple vaccines and set up the manufacturing of glass vials, rubber stoppers and syringes. Criminally negligent and shortsighted they are.

    • The Traveling Wilbur

      There you go noticing things again. Filthy habit. Shouldn’t be allowed. Wasn’t the done thing when I was a lad. And we were grateful for it.

  9. So what’s the deal with the Oz government only picking one supplier. Seems a bit risky. The US has Pfizer, Moderna, fairly readily available, with some J&J availability. J&J had problems, but no wuckers because all the eggs aren’t in one basket.

    I haven’t been following, but I’d be interested to see why there’s only 1 supplier. Something something you-scratch-my-back-i’ll-scratch-yours?

  10. working class hamMEMBER

    1000 hits of the finest Smirko snake oil were destroyed. It seems a medical centre got delivery of the miracle cure, only to have the power cut to the refrigeration system, from overload. A very common occurrence at this particular new development site, no less than 9 times over 2 months, reason being the developer chose not to put in the correct capacity infrastructure due to costs.

  11. Jumping jack flash

    “Does anyone seriously think if CSL was churning out huge numbers that the government wouldn’t be crowing about it?”


    I work in manufacturing so i know how slowly urgent things get done. Especially in Australia. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of doses produced was close to or in fact 0.

    • CSL is a money making machine. The management team would be demanding the sales teams squeeze every ounce of margin out of this crisis possible.

      The contract probably hasn’t even been signed, CSL isn’t going to do this out of the goodness of humanity.

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