By Tanya Plibersek

19 May 2021




SUBJECT: Vaccine rollout.

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Now we are joined by Tanya Plibersek, the federal opposition spokesperson for women and education. Tanya, how are you?


EMERSON: Well, we're having a few technical problems there. But we've got you here today, so that's very good.

PLIBERSEK: Fantastic, that's a good start.

EMERSON: It is a good start. Now I saw some good news. Well I guess it's good news for you. And I saw the survey in the Nine papers this morning. It was primarily about the vaccine roll out and vaccine hesitancy. But I thought given we talk on the show every week, there was a survey of likeability of parties’ leaders and ministers today. And on favourable and unfavourable, you take one from the other, that gives you your net favourability rating there. And I see that on my calculations, you've got a net favourability of nine per cent. That's pretty good. I think that's great. And a lot more than I have to say your leader. Because Albo’s, when I did the calculations was minus 3. So you're plus 9, he's minus 3. Should you be leading the Labor Party into the next election?

PLIBERSEK: You know how it is. We look at these surveys. They come and go. They don't really mean much.

EMERSON: Well, alright then but you're not answering the question Tanya Plibersek. I think based on that poll you'd do better than him, wouldn't you? 

PLIBERSEK: Anthony's doing a great job in really difficult circumstances. You know, I was deputy leader of the Labor Party for a long time. I know that being the leader in opposition is a thankless task, it's a tough job, and he's doing a great job.

EMERSON: Alright then, you can kick that into the long grass, we might come back to that again on another day. But let's talk about this survey because I think there was some real worries out of this survey. Now, the Prime Minister is putting a good spin on it. I guess he's saying, look 70 per cent of people say they will get, or are likely to get the vaccine. But I do worry about the fact that that survey showed almost one in three, almost a third were saying that they are unlikely to get the vaccine, or won't be getting the vaccine. Is 70% a high enough figure?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's up to the medical experts to tell us what sort of coverage you need for the vaccine roll out to be really effective. But what I would say is we can't get life back to normal, we can't get our economy back to normal, until we've got more jabs in arms. And it surprises me that I've seen so little advertising and promotion from the federal government when it comes to getting vaccines in arms. And I think part of the hesitancy is just this feeling of chaos from the Government. I mean the GPs in my electorate have been telling me they found it really hard to answer the questions of their patients. When am I eligible? When will the surgery have enough doses of the vaccine for me to get my appointment? It has been really quite chaotic. And along with the borders, I would say the vaccine rollout is one of the biggest failures of the federal government when it comes to Covid-19. The tracing app that cost $70 million and didn't trace anyone. And the hundreds of deaths in aged care, obviously again things that have really shaken people's confidence. I think with the vaccine roll out, we're supposed to have about 6 million people vaccinated by now, we've got about half that number. I'd like to see those numbers climb steadily because that's how we get life back to normal.

EMERSON: But we have had obviously some issues with supply of vaccines from overseas, and I think everyone's acknowledge that. And that number you mentioned, the six million, well that's going back to the numbers when they're talking about four million. And the Government admitted, well, those figures are out the door because of some of the issues with vaccine availability. But let me go back-
PLIBERSEK: Oh look, listen, let's just tackle that for a sec, right? From the beginning, Labor was saying the Government should have multiple sources, from multiple companies, there are multiple different types of vaccines – because we didn't know which would be the most successful. You know this is very new territory for us. Australia put all its eggs in a couple of baskets, and that's one of the reasons that we've got the delay. We also aren't able to manufacture those very complex vaccines here, the mRNA Vaccines. We should be able to. Labor believes we should be able to make those really complex vaccines here in Australia. Yes, it's hard. But we've got some of the best scientists in the world. It's not beyond us.

EMERSON: Alright then if you're saying the Government has done a hopeless job in terms of the vaccine rollout, then why did the Newspoll at the beginning of this week show that Labor still hasn't improved its lead, it’s 51/49. That poll was not seen as a glowing endorsement of Labor, or of Anthony Albanese's leadership.

PLIBERSEK: There’s political commentating, I'm not going to get into that. What I will say is that the federal government has let us down on the vaccine roll out, on getting Australians home, on aged care, on the tracing app, in a number of other areas. But that's the Government. Australia as a whole has done really remarkably well, by international standards. Australians have been disciplined, they've looked out for each other, they’ve followed the instructions of our health professionals. They really, really - we've done phenomenally well as a nation. So I'm not I'm not running down our success as a nation. And of course that gives people, I think quite rightly, a sense of pride in our achievements.

EMERSON: What do you think that pride is being translated in support for the Morrison Government, rather than a tick for their own efforts as a government?

PLIBERSEK: Australians should be proud of their own efforts. And I think the state governments have, by and large, done an excellent job. State governments are much more used to service delivery on the ground. Actually doing things like rolling out the testing regime. And we've seen, not just in Australia, but internationally generally, a support for governments that are in power, existing governments.

EMERSON: Well look I hear what you're saying there, and I think there's concerns, for me personally the concern is, and I think the point you started to begin with Tanya Plibersek, I'm not seeing enough advertising out there, not with news stories about pollies getting vaccines, but, you know, leading Australians, and not even talking about celebrities, but I'm not ruling out celebrities as well. Getting the vaccines, being on those ads saying, “hey I've had the vaccine, why don't you do it as well?”, people that we respect as a community. But I think that is an issue, I want to see more of. Tanya Plibersek, always great to have a chat to you, we’ll catch you again next week.

PLIBERSEK:  Lovely to talk to you Emmo. See ya.