Australia

Karen Andrews says drug is still nine months away

The federal government believes a rollout of a potential coronavirus vaccine is still at least nine months away. Picture: Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP

Industry Minister Karen Andrews says the federal government believes the rollout of a potential coronavirus vaccine is still at least nine months away.

Speaking on ABC political show Insiders, the Liberal MP said it would probably be nine to 12 months before the drug could be approved, manufactured and rolled out.

Ms Andrews said the CSIRO and leading medical company CSL were equipped to manufacture a protein-based vaccine straightaway, however a non-protein drug would take longer.

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“I would hope that we would be able to do it in about the nine-month to 12-month time frame, but I think we need to be really conscious that with a vaccine, there are a lot of variables in there,” Ms Andrews told host David Speers.

“We don’t have the vaccine proven at this point in time, we don’t know what the base for that vaccine is going to be, so we are trying to prepare across a wide range.

“I know, David, that you want me to say categorically this is what the time frame is going to be, but I don’t believe that there is anyone that can answer that question.”

This month’s federal budget assumed a “population-wide” vaccination program would be in place by the end of 2021.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Industry Minister Karen Andrews. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

The federal government has committed $1.5 billion to medical technology and manufacturing, which Ms Andrews said could be used to ensure companies such as CSL were equipped to produce a future vaccine.

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The government however has been criticised for handing out the funding slower than expected, with only $40 million being committed this financial year.

Ms Andrews also weighed in on spending rorts embroiling public sector bodies Australia Post and the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The Queensland politician said government sector executives “cashing in on the public purse” did not pass the pub test.

Bosses on massive salaries should not be using taxpayer funds for personal expenses, such as gifts and financial advice, she added.

Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate has been forced to stand down for using taxpayer funds to buy luxury designer watches for board members. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate has been forced to stand down for using taxpayer funds to buy luxury designer watches for board members. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

“If you are earning a significant salary, then maybe you can pay for your own hair and make-up, maybe you can do the pretty basic things that everyday Australians do to look after yourself and not constantly look to how you’re going to up your remuneration by cashing in on the public purse,” Ms Andrews said.

During Senate estimates last week, it was revealed that Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate had used taxpayer funds to buy four Cartier watches valued at $3000 each.

ASIC chair James Shipton has also been stood down for charging the taxpayer more than $100,000 for personal financial advices.

“We do want to attract the best and brightest into the public sector – that is a very important thing for us to look at — but they do need to be remunerated appropriately, and that is not paying them over the top,” Ms Andrews said.

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