Tony Abbott says Turnbull govt to join Labor in bidding to fight a pandemic

The Turnbull government and Labor have emerged with a more than $300m plan to help address the risk of a pandemic before it breaks out in Australia.

The bipartisan support comes after a full day of statements and amendments from both sides in the Victorian parliament as the parties fight for political advantage with a parliamentary sitting deadline looming.

Coalition, Labor can’t agree on bill to prepare for any flu pandemic Read more

The joint parliamentary committee on the HRL Amendment (Pandemic Preparedness) Bill 2016 held its second of six sitting days in Victoria on Monday.

The bill – named after a plague that swept through Europe from 1452 until 1500 – would set up a fund to respond to a pandemic, while also directing the government to monitor annual and long-term economic and social impacts.

The Greens, Victorian independents and the Australian Democrats abstained from Monday’s hearing after they had told the committee the bill met the needs of pandemic preparedness but did not address full-blown pandemics.

It would also provide more planning and monitoring resources for businesses and international responders.

A subsidiary bill, which would not have the same impact but would also seek to address pandemic preparedness, is due to be introduced in the next fortnight.

“Flu and other pandemics are on the rise and Australia needs to take this matter seriously. Our hospitals are currently having to treat patients in isolation because they have a flu-like illness and nurses are catching and spreading the flu virus,” the health minister, Greg Hunt, said in a statement.

“This bill will bring us into line with the internationally recognised baseline requirement for pandemic risk assessments and planning.”

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