The Victorian government’s much-publicised donation of 1000 ventilators to COVID -affected India was never fulfilled.
In early May, Victoria’s acting premier James Merlino announced that they would send the ventilators to India as part of a $41 million package which also included supporting equipment such as connectors and humidifiers.
“The situation in India right now is nothing short of devastating. We simply cannot sit by and do nothing. We must step up and provide real, tangible support,”Mr Merlino wrote in a tweet at the time.
“That’s why we’re sending 1000 ICU ventilators to support Indian doctors, nurses, and medical staff.”
However, a new revelation was made in the public accounts and estimates committee hearing. When questioned by Liberal Democrat MP David Limbrick Victorian health officials did not know whether the pledge had been followed through.
“I’m not sure,”Department of Health secretary Euan Wallace said.
As per government officials, there were more than 4000 ventilators in the state’s stockpile, and would seek to confirm details on the Indian ventilator pledge.
It’s understood the Indian government advised that the donation of medical equipment was no longer required in June.
However, one of the highly placed officials in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs told The Australia Today, “Our requests were very specific to our friends, However, we would not comment who promised what and whether those promises were 100% fulfilled.”
Indian High Commission’s officials in Canberra are tight-lipped on the issue.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne release a press statement on 4 June saying, Nineteen of India’s 36 states and union territories have already received Australian medical supplies from previous deliveries, including 3000 ventilators and 250 oxygen concentrators.
These form part of our $37.1 million packages of support for India. Working in partnership with the Indian Government, the Indian Red Cross Society, and local authorities are distributing Australian-donated supplies to people most in need.
“India is a great friend of Australia and a comprehensive strategic partner. We share so much in common as peoples, as democratic nations, and we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences and our support to the nation of India and the people of India and the Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister Modi.”said Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Victoria’s donation was first sought to be made through the commonwealth’s donation of supplies to the Delta-hit country, but the federal government was unable to help with suitable shipping for the ventilators.
While suitable arrangements were being pursued which took longer than expected time, the situation in India improved.