By Tanya Plibersek

04 June 2021



SUBJECTS: Proposed quarantine facility in Victoria; Victorian lockdown; Vaccine rollout; Payments for workers in lockdown; Jack de Belin; Sexual assault convictions.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show, you're watching Today. It's finally happening - Scott Morrison today expected to splash $200 million of Federal funding to build a 500 bed quarantine facility near Avalon airport. Under the deal, the Victorian Government will foot the bill for all running costs. It's hoped the centre will be up and running by January. In Melbourne, I'm joined by journalist and human headline himself, Derryn Hinch. Hinchy, it's great to see you mate. And here in the studio, Shadow Minister for Education, Tanya Plibersek. Tanya, nice to see you as well.
STEFANOVIC: First up, $200 million, he's done it. Money well spent, Tanya?
PLIBERSEK: This should have been done a year ago. I mean, the fact that we've got another Victorian lockdown now is because we've failed on quarantine and we’ve failed on the vaccination program. The Government got advice from its own experts a year ago, saying that there should be Federal quarantine facilities because hotels are not hospitals. They should be purpose-built, should have happened ages ago.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Derryn, is it the answer?
DERRYN HINCH: Look, I agree with Tanya. This, what took it so bloody long? If there hadn't been this internecine warfare between the federal and state governments, this could have been almost finished by now. It's great that it's at Avalon, it's close to Geelong so staffing won't be a problem, but it could be almost open now.
STEFANOVIC: Look, the Fox [Lindsay Fox] has done a great job getting this up too, let’s see what happens little bit later in the day. Look the language I thought around this lockdown this week from some Victorian officials has been pretty severe and inflammatory at times. It was called a 'beast' this pandemic. If we let this go some said, people would die because of how quickly this variant spreads. It turns out the two cases, which prompted the cases are false negatives. Now, given the reasoning behind the language is questionable, is it time to lift the lockdown do you reckon Derryn?
HINCH: Look, I think they may lift it a couple days early. I don't think just two cases can be a reason to lift it. The thing that annoys me at the moment is, I think it's great the Government is going to put this money in and help workers out and pay them for the second week of a hotspot etc. etc. but there's too many caveats. I mean, if you have savings of $10,000 you're not eligible. Now, the Government last year advised young people to take 10 or 20 grand out of their super. You can't have it both ways. I think it's a good idea, it's a move in the right direction but there's too many complications on it and it smells of politics a little bit. 
STEFANOVIC: It's fair enough that I guess the hotspot surrounding whatever particular area it is, is the prerequisite for getting this. But who decides the hotspot is the debate? Who do you think should decide that hotspot Tanya? 
PLIBERSEK: Well, we've got great medical experts and our scientists, our doctors, our epidemiologists, they're the ones that should be giving advice on where you lock down, how long you lock down for, but I've got to say again we were supposed to have four million people vaccinated by the end of March. You look at America at the moment - half their population is fully vaccinated. The last figures I saw for Australia was 2 per cent fully vaccinated. This is a real failure of the vaccination program in Australia. We should have more people vaccinated by now. 
STEFANOVIC: There's a push for chemists in Victoria to be able to administer the vaccine. Do you think that's a good idea? 
PLIBERSEK: Well, I got my flu shot at the chemist. I think if you've got proper training, that's something worth looking at. I noticed that Queensland today is setting up a mass vaccination hub. We've got a really well operating mass vaccination hub here in New South Wales. We need to get more jabs in people's arms. 
STEFANOVIC: Derryn, now the front page of the Herald Sun today features some of the best restaurateurs in Melbourne saying look more needs to be done to help restaurants and the hospitality industry and they can't really afford to have any more lockdowns. A lot of them will go out of business if this happens again.
HINCH: Yeah, that is tragic but the thing is, people's health is more important than people dining out. You know, I used to own a restaurant, right? It is, it is very tough and I think they're going to find it's even getting tougher because some people having umpteen lockdowns in Melbourne are now thinking, do I really need to spend all that much money by going out? That's the other thing they have to fight against you know.
STEFANOVIC: You're obviously not going out and eating anytime soon. You're not going to be able to show your face in a restaurant in Melbourne.
HINCH: Look, now actually there's a little, it's the Giro d'Italia on the moment, there's a restaurant in my neighbourhood called the Giro d'Italia, with the former gyro cyclists and so I quite like that, as a branch offering.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, good plug there. Tanya, what do you think about that? I mean, realistically, hopefully with vaccines rolling out we won't have to go through these lockdowns, but the way the Victorian officials have been talking this week, they're not afraid to do it. 
PLIBERSEK: No, but what we've learned through the pandemic is that good health policy in the end is good economic policy. So a good short, sharp lockdown is better than the virus getting a hold in the community, spreading through the community and we end up with a longer, bigger problem. 
STEFANOVIC: Do you think some of the language being used this week was inflammatory? 
PLIBERSEK: I don't think so. I mean, this is really serious, it's a really serious illness. If you get it, we know it spreads very quickly. We've seen the impact overseas, we are so lucky in Australia that we haven't let the virus take hold in the community, but that means that if health experts tell us now is the time for a short, sharp lockdown, we've got to do it. 
STEFANOVIC: Okay, and then you've got to get the payment scheme to cover that. You're pretty happy with the payment scheme though, aren't you?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah. We've been calling for a support payment for the lockdown. We feel so sorry, particularly for the sole traders, the small businesses, the people that don't have a lot of savings. Like, this has a big hit on them. 
STEFANOVIC: I can't believe you actually supporting a Coalition decision this morning.
PLIBERSEK: Whenever they make sensible decisions, and they quite often make sensible decisions when they do what we've asked them to do.
STEFANOVIC: Oh there you go, there you go. Hey, let's move on. And after being cleared of sexual assault charges, Jack de Belin made his return to the NRL last night and this was the fans' reaction. Check it out.
STEFANOVIC: There you go, a standing ovation. Derryn, charges against Jack de Belin were dropped but the whole case, well it was pretty awful, wasn't it? How do you feel seeing the standing ovation for him?
HINCH: Karl, let me pick you up on it. He was not cleared. Two hung juries couldn't find him guilty or not guilty. They were hung juries. I found that very distasteful, actually, to see this. I mean, he was treated like a returning football hero. I understand why the cases were dropped, he had two hung juries. I think the prosecutors had to say, well, we won't get there so let's drop the charges and that was fair enough. But having watched that cheering last night, I don't know. Look, if I was the alleged victim, I'd be close to suicide this morning. 
STEFANOVIC: I think that's probably, I mean, the alleged victim in this case, you have to feel about that, you have to think about that, don't you? 
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, absolutely. And I think without making any specific comment on this case, what I would say is it is extraordinarily difficult to get a conviction for rape. About 1 in 10 assaults are reported to police. Of the ones that are reported to police, there's a two or three per cent conviction rate, so it just shows you what a tough job the police have got in getting a conviction. We know the system is stacked against victims of sexual assault. There needs to be legal changes to make, you know, take some of those rapists off the street. 
STEFANOIVC: Makes it hard to come forward, doesn't it? All right, who's your footy team? 
STEFANOVIC: Because I just wanted to say the Lions are going particularly well Derryn, sorry about that. The only thing, know what I'm saying? I just wanted to say the Lions are going well, but don't worry about the Broncos, all right? That's it, that's it. Have a great weekend guys. 
HINCH: Now I know, the Broncos last night were pathetic.
STEFANOVIC: There he goes. We'll cut that bit out. It's not live.