Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:40): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to speak on this select committee into the management of COVID-19. In the first instance, I am just so thankful that I live in this state in this great country—in this great state—with respect to this global pandemic. The last global pandemic was over 100 years ago, with the Spanish flu. It was straight after World War I, when tens of millions of people died. I believe at least 60 million people died because of the effects of the outbreak of war across the world. Directly after World War I we had the Spanish flu outbreak, when 500 million people across the world caught it and 10 per cent of those died: 50 million people died from the Spanish flu.
In Sydney, travellers coming back from overseas were quarantined in health facilities on Sydney Harbour, so the management of these things is not completely new, but we have made a lot of advances. Simple things like handwashing, social distancing, covering your mouth and wearing masks were all things employed over 100 years ago after the onset of the Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people.
In the first instance, I would like to thank the people in Health who have done an amazing job not just here in South Australia but also across the world in fast-tracking the development of vaccines. Multiple vaccines have been developed right across the world. We know there is one in China, and developments have come out of this country, the USA, England and elsewhere in the global fight against COVID-19. I applaud everyone who has been involved in that fight.
While it is right for people to have their position, what does distress me is the anti-vax movement and their religious zealotry, that they follow on Facebook for things that they believe in. I found it fascinating when the first word came out that ivermectin was going to be the drug of choice to beat COVID-19.
When ivermectin first came out in the mid-1980s, I was working in Western Australia on farms for a little while. I had been over there for a rural youth exchange as well around that time. It was a significant milestone in developing a sheep drench for worms and itch mite. It was a great thing to break the cycle and a great rotating sheep drench so that you did not have sheep becoming immune to the effects of drench so that it did not work. It was a great thing, so it was with some bemusement, I should say, that people have peddled this. I do note that ivermectin does come in a human tablet form—in the brief time that I did google the use of it—but it does interest me that people would rather trust that than the science of vaccines.
As we have seen, and as advertised by the great Professor Nicola Spurrier, these vaccines that we have currently were developed just like any other vaccine in the world. It is just that they have been fast-tracked, and rightly so. Of course they have been fast-tracked. A great wealth of time and effort has been put into developing those vaccines. Talking about wealth, the amount of money that governments have been spending, especially here in Australia in our circumstances—the federal government, our state government, the Marshall Liberal government—to make sure that those vaccines can get into arms so that we can get to that 80 per cent double vaccination rate, and a lot higher would be the aim, is considerable.
I must say I held back a bit on getting vaccinated because I thought we should let other community members, those more vulnerable, have more access to vaccines, but as more vaccines rolled in that eased up a bit. The thing that really triggered me was the Delta variant. We have seen that come across the borders. Before I speak about the trucking industry, I just want to applaud truckies, as I have done on the CB radio occasionally as I talk to them going down the road, for the work they are doing in trying times carting freight around this state and this nation. I have heard about truck drivers who have had infected noses from the number of swabs they have had to have to keep their jobs and keep on trucking, basically.
I applaud the staff right around the state and especially those at Tailem Bend, where it is not just a testing station but now a vaccination clinic that people can access, especially now that truck drivers are required to be vaccinated. I really do applaud their work, and long may it keep going to keep this state and this country functioning.
I also want to applaud the work that has been done in contact tracing. We have had exposure points located in my electorate at Pinnaroo and Tailem Bend and across the state. It has been due to the magnificent work of those contact tracers that we have not seen major outbreaks. I have seen people in my electorate—and there have been plenty impacted, I can tell you—who have isolated at home, done the right thing in home quarantine, had all the testing and we have got through it without a major issue.
This is because of the tight controls. Are the tight controls upsetting? Of course they are. I have talked to students across the border in Victoria, and I know of families that have split, with one parent living in Victoria. I know the heartbreaking story of a mother who, early on in the piece, when she wanted to talk to her daughter, had to sit a metre apart from her on the Victorian-South Australian border and talk. They were not allowed to touch, otherwise she would be arrested.
An honourable member interjecting:
Mr PEDERICK: Yes, it is tough, absolutely, but this is a worldwide pandemic and we do have to keep people safe, and I applaud the initiative that people individually have taken to make sure they can support their loved ones. I want to applaud the work that is happening here because, as has already been identified in contributions, when we do open up, and we will open up, we will see Delta here—and it is not a matter of if but when—and our hospitals will need to be ready. They are being prepared with a $123 million funding boost on top of the other funding, the billions, we are putting into health, the 1,200 extra nurses and everyone else, because who knows what is going to happen.
As I said, there certainly have been issues with border communities. In Murrayville, where my kids have played footy in the Mallee League since they were six—they are now 17 and 20, so I have a pretty fair idea what happens just across the border at Murrayville, about 30 kilometres from Pinnaroo—they had to be excluded from the football finals because of COVID and it upset them to a great degree. It was very tough. But this is the real thing with COVID management.
Of course we would like it to be easier. I applaud the work that Mehdi Doroudi is doing as the regional representative on the Transition Committee in making sure we can work our way out of how we manage COVID and manage the different levels of closures on the border. I want to applaud border communities. I acknowledge there are mental health strains because of how they have worked with this. Whether they be shearing contractors, health workers, teachers or biosecurity workers, I acknowledge everything they do, and I also want to acknowledge all the work that police, Health and our government are doing to make sure that we get through this and get through it appropriately.