By Tanya Plibersek

04 June 2021



SUBJECTS: Visit to Ipswich; Vaccine; Quarantine; Labor. 
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST:  Well, Ipswich had a visitor today, it's Tanya Plibersek. She's in the studio with me. How are you, Tanya? 
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: I didn't feel any six degrees. All I felt was beautiful sunny Ipswich at its best. 
EMERSON: It is a great place and, as people know, I was born in Ipswich, so I love Ipswich. 
PLIBERSEK: I knew that, I knew that. I'm wondering whether you went to the Brothers Leagues Club, because I had my lunch there and I was there thinking, this is the place Emmo would like.
EMERSON: I do like those kind of things - I can remember going to the pub with my mum, when I was very young and she'd order the shandy.
PLIBERSEK: My mum loved a shandy too. She loved a shandy and she'd give herself 10 bucks for the pokies. But that was her strict limit.
EMERSON: Do they still sell shandies?
PLIBERSEK: I'm not game to ask.
EMERSON: Now, what were you doing in Ipswich today? 
PLIBERSEK: Well, in the afternoon, I met with the Domestic Violence Action Centre there, the director and the staff, talking about the huge need there is out there for more services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. They've seen demand go through the roof. And of course, their funding is not guaranteed. They're potentially losing three staff there. Each of those staff has about 40 clients that they're working with. So you see what a huge impact that would have on Ipswich and Toowoomba and the surrounding areas if that funding, from the federal government's not guaranteed. But in the morning, I went to Ipswich State High. I met with their principal, Simon Riley, who is just a dynamo. And I he gave me a very proud tour of his fantastic school. We went to the trades training centre, we met students there who are preparing for apprenticeships in building, in hairdressing, beauticians, engineering. We met some of the science students in the new science wing, and some of the sports students as well. They've got a fantastic rugby league program at that school. Anyway, it was a knockout school with an incredible principal, an absolutely inspiring man. Love their students, love their staff. So, all in all a very fun day for me.
EMERSON: I'm glad you got out to Ipswich, I love Ipswich as I said. Now, National Cabinet has met today, and the big announcement I guess coming out of that was the deal with Victoria for a quarantine facility there. Jointly funded, funded in terms of construction by the federal government, then run by the Victorian government. The interesting thing of course was that the Queensland government has been pushing its own facility there at Wellcamp Airport at Toowoomba, but that looks like that's been put on ice.
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, it's a bit hard to understand. Actually it was weird because when the Prime Minister first said, no, he didn't want Wellcamp, he said because Toowoomba's in the bush and it's not near an airport and it's not near a hospital. I don't know if he's ever been.
EMERSON: I think he is a bit embarrassed by that one. 
PLIBERSEK: I don't know if he's ever been to Toowoomba.
EMERSON: I think he has been. I think he pulled back pretty quickly. 
PLIBERSEK: Yeah. Alright. Look, for more than a year, for more than a year, the federal government's been told that they should have federal quarantine facilities, not in our CBDs, not, you know, hotels aren't hospitals. They were advised, the federal government was advised, more than a year ago by their health experts that they should be looking at federal quarantine facilities outside our capital cities. I don't know what the holdup is. It's great that they're looking at one in Victoria now. It's really taken way too long. We've seen 21 escapes of Covid from our hotel quarantine system because these aren't purpose-built facilities. And until we get quarantine right, till the federal government gets quarantine right and the vaccination program really underway, we're still going to see these problems like we've got in Victoria. 
EMERSON: Alright then. But clearly it's not a question of saying that the Liberals versus Labor because the coalition government, the Morrison Government has done a deal and doing a deal with the Andrews Government in Victoria. I did make the point earlier on the show, look the Victorian government reportedly gave a very comprehensive 80-page plan to the Morrison Government for its facility. But the Palaszczuk Government gave them a 15-page plan, nine pages of full-page photos and a cover letter. So there wasn't a lot of detail there and no costing details either. 
PLIBERSEK: I don't think it can be beyond the federal government to say can you give us a bit more information? It's not really a reason to say no thanks very much Toowoomba is too far, we're not interested. But look, I think the real point, the underlying point here is the federal government is responsible for quarantine and borders. We still got 40,000 Australians stuck overseas. Hotels are not hospitals. The government was told more than a year ago to look at facilities like this,. And they just should have been getting on with it way before now. And the same goes for the vaccination program. Look, you know, half of Americans are fully vaccinated. In Australia, we think it's about two per cent.
EMERSON: Look, I think everyone accepts, we would have liked to have seen the vaccination rollout faster, and I think that the has been appropriate criticism of the Morrison Government that it hasn't happened faster. Particularly in that issue of aged care. Let me talk to you about that issue of aged care there. Because clearly Scott Morrison is pushing for mandatory vaccination of aged care workers...
PLIBERSEK: The thing that drives me crazy about this, is those aged care workers, they want to get the jabs in their arms. You don't need to make it mandatory, you just need to make it possible. Let's start by making it possible.
EMERSON: Let me take you up on that. How do you know they all want to get it? 
PLIBERSEK: I can tell you that there's plenty that want to get it, and can't right. So we've had not just aged care workers, but aged care residents saying, you know, the providers turn up and they're five jabs short. So, five residents are told you need to go to your local GP. Like these are people who find it hard to walk around the nursing home, let alone get on the bus and go to their GP. We've heard of all sorts of stories about nursing homes being rung and saying we're going to turn up tomorrow and then nobody turns up. Or people turning up with no warning to the residents. This system, it just needs to work better for the residents and the staff. We also know that a lot of staff are working across more than one facility. The federal government for a time banned that,  they are now allowing it again. Honestly common sense- it beggars belief that when you've got an outbreak, in particular, you've got people working in more than one facility, it's such a dangerous thing to be doing. 
EMERSON: I think the breakout, and what we've seen from Victoria, clearly has highlighted a problem in terms of the rollout for vaccination and age care workers, no doubt about that, Tanya Plibersek. 
PLIBERSEK: And disability care workers as well. 
EMERSON: But the issue, coming back again to the mandating of vaccination for aged care workers. Scott Morrison says that's what he wants, some of the states say, no, we don't want that. Where does Labor stand? Where do you stand on that? Do you think it should be mandatory for vaccination of aged care workers? 
PLIBERSEK: Look, I'd take the advice of our health professionals. But I've got a mother-in-law who lives in residential aged care. I would be pretty concerned if she had people working there that weren't vaccinated. You know, they're people who catching the bus to work or catching the train to work. They're out and about. And we know that older people can be very vulnerable to this sort of illness. But why are we going straight to should it be mandatory, shouldn't it? The first step is making it possible. Actually having people turn up with the doses, enough doses for the residents, and the staff, doing it there, so that we can get people vaccinated. Let's get the people vaccinated who want to be, and then start talking about those who are resisting.
EMERSON: Yeah, well and I think that's a reasonable argument about that. But you make the point about your own mother, I think you said it was.
PLIBERSEK: Mother-in-law.
EMERSON: Mother-in-law there. My father's in a nursing home, aged care facility, here in Queensland. And I can tell you, it is compulsory for every one of those aged care workers here in Queensland to have a flu vax, to have a flu jab. Compulsory. So why wouldn't it make it compulsory to have a Covid jab? 
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it makes absolute sense that people who work in facilities with vulnerable people, get vaccinated. And all I'm saying is we're getting diverted by an argument, should it be mandatory, or shouldn't it? When people want to, people want to do it. The problem is, then, you know, the people who are turning up to do the vaccinations, don't have enough doses. Or the people who work in the facilities are being told go to your local GP, you know, make an appointment for 3 weeks' time and perhaps, you'll be lucky enough then to get the jab. 
EMERSON: Now we got the state Labor conference on this weekend. You'll be attending I assume?
PLIBERSEK: No, no, I'm back to Sydney. No but our Leader Anthony Albanese will be attending with bells on. 
EMERSON: I'm sure he will be. Now you say that. I saw this article in the Sydney Morning Herald this week. I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about here. It was all very, very glowing about you, Tanya Plibersek. I'll read a quote here, it says "people within her party say she has friends across the factions and her regular appearances on Alan Jones and Queensland's 4BC...
PLIBERSEK: Oh there you go!
EMERSON "... reveals a person who is a worker bee as well as a deadset queen." Now, this article is all about why you should be the leader, not Anthony Albanese. 
PLIBERSEK: Honestly, people have so little tolerance for political parties talking about themselves about, you know, this sort of stuff. My hundred percent focus is on being a valuable member of Anthony's team, and making sure that we go to the next election with a strong story to tell people about a better economy, secure jobs, rising wages, good schools for their kids, hospitals if they need it, aged care that's safe for their parents if they need it. That's my focus. 
EMERSON: As I expect you to say, Tanya Plibersek. Always great to have you in the studio. Will catch you again next week. 
PLIBERSEK: Thank you. And it was so good to be with Shane Neumann today in Ipswich, so I'm really looking forward to my next trip there too.