This morning it was revealed that, in August last year, The Shovel was awarded a $400 million contract to oversee the rollout of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
While this was intended to remain commercial-in-confidence, some irritating journalist, probably from the ABC, used a Freedom of Information request to release the details of the contract, and we’ve been inundated with angry emails ever since. This statement is designed to answer some of the most common questions.
How the fuck did a satirical news organisation get awarded the contract to oversee Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout?
A lot of people seem to be very angry about this, but we were just as entitled to apply for the contract as anyone else. It was a rigorous tender process, with several checks and balances along the way. The fact that one of our writers went to school with Greg Hunt and we donated $1.5 million donation to the Liberal Party last year is purely coincidental.
Does the Shovel have any experience managing vaccination programs?
No, but we did organise a very complex pub crawl for 80 people in 2012, which involved multiple venues, several different brands of beer (some imported, some made here in Australia) and a range of nasty side-effects. So it’s basically the same thing.
What? A pub crawl isn’t like a vaccination rollout at all
Obviously you haven’t seen our COVID-19 vaccination rollout yet.
Do you have any medical experience?
The morning after the pub crawl required a fair bit of medical ingenuity. But, apart from that, no. But what we lack in medical expertise we more than make up for in comedic ability.
What comedic skills could possibly be of use to a vaccination program?
Timing. Actually, no, bad example. We’ve totally fucked up the timing. But we have incorporated one of the other central tenets of comedy – the element of surprise. GPs are constantly telling us how surprised they are when they receive eight vials of the vaccine rather than the 400 they had been promised.
This is a disaster, isn’t it?
No, not at all. Everyone seems to be focusing on targets, but we put those targets in place purely for satirical purposes. And I think we can all agree that setting a target of 4 million vaccinations by March, falling short by almost 3.5 million vaccinations, and then getting Greg Hunt to say ‘‘The national vaccination program is accelerating exactly as intended” has all the hallmarks of great satire. Although nitpickers would argue that, technically, it was farce rather than satire.
Is this the first time the government has awarded a commercial contract to a satirical organisation?
No, in 2019 the Government awarded News Corp $345,000 to set up a spelling bee website.
Has The Shovel been awarded any other government contracts?
Apart from a recent engagement to run a series of empathy training courses? No.