By Tanya Plibersek

28 June 2021



MONDAY, 28 JUNE 2021

SUBJECTS: States in lockdown; Covid vaccination rollout; Dan Andrews returning to work; NSW Blues win State of Origin.

ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: Joining me is the Shadow Minister for Education, Tanya Plibersek who's in Sydney and in Melbourne, 9 News presenter, Alicia Loxley. Nice to talk to you both this Monday morning. Tanya, look I think we're used to lockdowns, but to see so many across so many states, it does feel like, I shouldn't say lockdowns more outbreaks. It feels like we're on the brink here.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well, I think it shows that this new variant that's in the community is very infectious and we are right to be very concerned. The States and Territories are taking the advice of their medical experts as they should. But the simple truth here is if more Australians were vaccinated, and if we actually got hotel quarantine right we could have avoided some of this. We know that only four per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated and this is the 26th outbreak from hotel quarantine. We need purpose-built quarantine facilities and we need to be making vaccines here in Australia. People are willing to take them. The States are willing to help, we've got a shortage of supply.

LANGDON: And Alicia, we could not get a clear answer from any politician over the weekend as to what kind of vaccination rate we would need to see before we can avoid lockdowns. 
ALICIA LOXLEY, JOURNALIST: This is an interesting point, Ali, because a lot of Australians feel like we need that target but I don't think they know. there isn't a consensus as to whether is it 70 per cent? Is it 80 per cent? We know that what 80 per cent of people in the UK have had their first dose of a vaccine and yet they're locked down being lifted, was pushed back by four weeks and they're still seeing people die, they're still seeing people hospitalised. And so, there is this real issue, I mean, you had the AMA on before saying that they're not sure of their agreed position as yet. And so this is what's really tricky. Again, we don't have a stated of date of opening international borders, to incentivise people to get vaccinated and we don't have enough supply. So there's major issues going forward with all of that.
LANGDON: And Tanya, how are flight attendants not frontline staff and being prioritised for vaccines?
PLIBERSEK: I just don't get it. I don't know how flight attendants haven't been prioritised. The limousine driver who seems to be patient zero in the Bondi cluster. These are obviously frontline people, but look at people who are working in aged care facilities, in disability care. I mean it is so bad that these people have not been vaccinated yet despite many of them being willing to take the vaccines. This is a real failure. When Scott Morrison said we're at the front of the queue for vaccines in international terms, he was 100 per cent wrong. We are way down the back of the queue and we can see the results of that.
LANGDON: I tell you what Alicia, Victoria is the place to be right now, isn't it? 
LOXLEY: It's quite a strange feeling. And obviously it's a very serious moment for the rest of the country, and we feel like this could seep into Victoria again at any moment. We saw that man who returned after attending that super spreader event, the party who has tested positive and then infected his boss at the dry cleaning business. But it was strange last night when we were talking about South Australia closing borders to everywhere except for Tasmania and Victoria because we haven't been in that position before.
LANGDON: And Tanya I noted one man with plenty of controversial advice yesterday was former ABC Radio host Jon Faine in his Age column. This is what he had to say about Sydney going into lockdown. 'I sincerely hope no one gets sick and no one dies, but gee their two week lockdown as opposed to the stay at home rules will prick their self-righteous balloon and put an end to the partisan, condescending and patronising nonsense that has been raining down on Victorians for months.' Tanya, he thinks it will do Sydney some good to be knocked off their high perch. Your thoughts?
PLIBERSEK: Well, when Victoria was in lockdown, I had so much sympathy for Victorians and I had so much support for the hard decisions that the Victorian government was making. It would be great to have a little bit of that reciprocated. We're having a tough time. It would be great if our friends and neighbours acknowledge that. 
LANGDON: Yeah. I mean he should know more than anyone. Alicia, I'm not sure that anyone anywhere gloated or found any joy in what Victoria went through? 
LOXLEY: No I don't think anyone gloated. Look there definitely was a sense and that probably goes back to the Melbourne/Sydney rivalry that has existed forever that when people were tweeting 'Melbourne, you've got this', a lot of people reacted angrily to that, not wanting to hear that from another State because perhaps of the position we were in and maybe Jon Faine is picking up on that element of this feeling that maybe Victoria didn't have to go through what it went through last year, because Gladys had this attitude of we are not going to lock down again. We aren't going to lock down, we've got the best contact tracing in the world, and there has been a feeling that that's not necessarily the case and perhaps this outbreak shows that that is not the case, and so that is probably where some of that is coming from. I don't think anyone in Melbourne wants to see, you know, anyone else in Australia go through this but that perhaps explains maybe some of that feeling Ali?
LANGDON: Yeah look, I mean you made some good points in the article but I tell you what, kick a State when they're down. It wasn't cool. But hey look, Dan Andrews is going to be back today after 111 days recovering from his accident. Take a listen:


LANGDON: So although 3AW's Neil Mitchell says that this video message with his wife Cath there should not replace the need to do a sit-down, real interview. Your thoughts? 
LOXLEY: Yeah, absolutely. Look, it was very stage-managed but I think it was really clever because that makes it the story yesterday and the Opposition down here, I think in a silly way put that list of questions a couple of weeks ago because there have been all these conspiracy theories about where he was staying and how this happened. And I think the State Opposition really lost a lot of ground by doing that and lost a lot of respect from Victorians. But by doing this, it was on all the news services last night, even though it's a bit cringe-worthy watching parts of it. I think that then today he will be hoping he can move on. There's still going to be questions about it and of course he still should do a sit-down interview and not just put out a PR video, but I think it was clever by his media advisers.
LANGDON: And Tanya, we wish them all the very best. I thought the video was a bit of an election pitch too.
PLIBERSEK: I don't know about that. He has had the biggest health scare. I know Dan Andrews. I know him well and I know that to keep him off work for one day is really hard. To keep him away from work for three months recovering from a super serious injury would have been so difficult. He's such a hard-working, dedicated, conscientious person and I really do question the priorities of some journalists. Like here he's had this major health incident and they're saying, 'oh we've got to get to the bottom of it.' It's pretty obvious what happened. He fell over, he fell really badly. He was badly injured and he had to stay off work to recover. I don't hear the same sort of criticisms when Scott Morrison does video messages on really controversial issues, where there should be questioning about our vaccine roll out. About the fact the federal Government hasn't built quarantine facilities and then plenty of journalists just think that's fine. Give a guy a break. He's had a big injury and a long time in hospital. Let's just welcomed him back and say, happy to see you're feeling better.
LANGDON: Hear hear. And I tell you what he’s coming back? The job isn't done, isn't it? There's still plenty going on. But Tanya look, I know lockdown's tough. You've had a couple of days in lockdown, at least you've got the Blues victory to get you through hey?
PLIBERSEK: That's exactly right. We needed a bit of good news, so it's very good news. 
LANGDON: Yeah and Alicia of course you'd be celebrating a Blues win in Melbourne there wouldn't you? 
LOXLEY: Oh absolutely. I'm feeling like a winner. This morning Ali. I mean I was I was a bit confused because I wouldn't profess to know much about Origin, but I thought Queensland with a dominant force in Origin. So without having declared who I was supporting, I'm now firmly in the Blues camp, firmly as you can see.
LANGDON: Smart move this morning. How the Saints go at the weekend? 
LOXLEY: We had a win over Richmond Ali, thanks for asking. Thanks for asking! A massive win.
LANGDON: Hey it's looking up. I'll let you what it's looking up for you Alicia. Nice to talk to you and to you too, Tanya. You enjoy your week.