Two weeks ago, I chanced upon a video via a news report in which the federal government was criticized for not signing a Pfizer vaccine deal when Pfizer had approached the Australian government in 2020. The opposition did not waste any time in throwing dirt on the ruling party leader, their trump cards being ‘lack of planning’ and ‘poor leadership’ while media chose to label the afore mentioned bungling as “the greatest public policy failure in Australian History”. I might not have a head for politics, and my perspective of issues could be distinctive when compared to the knowledgeable majority, however none can disagree with me when I state that a vaccine deal alone cannot be the only performance indicator by which a leader’s success could be measured. There are a few countries like India who have not signed the Pfizer vaccine deal but have managed to control the COVID-19 situation better with locally produced vaccines such as Covishield (Serum Institute of India), Covaxin (Bharath Biotech), Sputnik V (Dr. Reddy’s laboratories), Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Zycov-D etc.
What has been interpreted as federal government’s indecisiveness and dubbed as “a lack of foresight” could have been the outcome of heavy reliance on locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine; the production of which fell from 1 million doses in a week in May to as low as 280,000 doses per week in September. Even though COVID-19 vaccination in Australia began on 22nd February 2021, which was rolled out only to quarantine and border workers, frontline health care workers, and aged and disability care residents and staff, ‘Therapeutic Goods Administration’ approved batches of AstraZeneca vaccines comprising 832,260 doses that were successfully rolled out to hundreds of medical centers and respiratory clinics in March 2021 could have been the reason behind the so-called stalling. However, the timely utilization of change management saved the day as now Australia has an additional supply of four million doses with UK agreeing to swap their vaccines with us and Singapore willing to supply 500,000 doses that were nearing expiration making adherence to the National Plan possible.
Opposition might not want to see ‘Change Management’ as a strategy which has been used by the federal government to turn around what was deemed a failure into a success story and might prefer to linger on ‘failed leadership’ for their own benefits. Improvisation with advancement into the complicated phases of corona virus mutants like Delta plus, South African strain C1.2 etc., with less negative impact on people or less dangers and more emphasis on public safety could be translated as good leadership. If you feel safe, you are in the right hands. Don’t you agree?