TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
TODAY SHOW ON SUNDAY
SUNDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Australia reaching 80 percent double vaccination coverage; Vaccine rollout; Border closures; Federal Election timing.
CHARLES CROUCHER, PRESENTER: Australia is about to enter a new phase of the vaccine rollout. From tomorrow, booster programs officially begin, just days after our country hit 80 per cent vaccination. Joining me for this, and to unpack the week of political headlines, is Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, and Shadow Minister for Education Tanya Plibersek. Good morning to you both. Birmo, we'll start with you. It is a major milestone, but it seems nothing still will open the WA border?
SENATOR SIMON BIRMINGHAM, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Well Charles, it is a huge milestone. Yesterday we hit 80 per cent double vax across the country and that's a huge testament to so many healthcare workers and the millions and millions of Australians who have turned out. And of course, we're pushing that 90 per cent first vaccination, and we are now one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. We are one of the most recently vaccinated countries in the world, and we're one of the first in the world to start a population-wide booster program. And all that adds up to us being one of the most protected populations in the world when it comes to COVID-19, and that should give us all confidence in terms of opening up, opening up safely, securely and in ways that are making sure people can get back to business, and loved ones can get back together right across the, right across the country.
CROUCHER: So we are protected, but we're not open at the moment. Is that 90 per cent figure that Mark McGowan put in place to open the WA border the right figure?
BIRMINGHAM: Look, it's really one for Western Australia to sort out amongst themselves. What we've seen is that Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania - they're all planning on moving sooner. They're applying, broadly speaking, the national plan, in terms of making big steps at the 80 per cent double vaccination rate and that's really encouraging. Now, West Australians will sort these matters out themselves as they always do. But what we can see from the reopening in Victoria and New South Wales, the ACT, and those decisions that other states are making, and the beginning of international travel happening as well, is that we are getting back to normal, we're getting back to normal in a safe way because of the success of the vaccines and the fact that we have so many opportunities now for people to get out there, receive those booster doses as soon as they're due for them to keep up those rates of protection and to make sure Australia stays one of the most protected countries in the world.
CROUCHER: Tanya, Mark McGowan's an incredibly popular leader, we know that. Does Anthony Albanese side with his decision, and should the Federal government be doing more to get this process along?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well, we had a very slow start to the vaccine rollout in Australia, and arguably the second lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria were caused by that slow start. Now, we are doing super well, and that's because Australians, when they had the chance to get vaccinated, went out in droves to do it. And I think Australians should be very proud of themselves for that. When it comes to state by state decisions about their borders, look, we all have people we miss interstate, overseas, especially as Christmas is approaching. I know that that's very tough on some families not being able to see people in WA, but if you are a state Premier and you've got no COVID and you're looking at other states and there's plenty of COVID, I'm not surprised that they take a cautious approach. I think we need to be sensible about this. All of us are very keen to get life back to as close as normal as possible, and that means being able to go out, eat in restaurants, go to work, go to the office, go to our CBDs, travel on public transport - all of that depends on high vaccination rates and it depends on having access to those booster shots as soon as the medical advice says that they're ready to go.
CROUCHER: Simon, this is the last week capable of calling an election for this year. That seems like a line's gone through it. So is it possible these closed borders actually impact the timing of the next election?
BIRMINGHAM: Charles I don't think they'll really play a role. I trust that by the time we have an election, which isn't due until May next year, that we will see all aspects of the country reunited. And the only people who seem to be wanting to talk about an election is the Labor Party. Anthony Albanese has been speculating dates all the time. We're interested in simply focussing on continuing the economic recovery from COVID, making sure that we maintain unemployment starting with a 4, which is a miraculous figure that Australia has achieved. And the projections from the Reserve Bank, from international agencies, are that the policies we've got in place are going to retain high levels of employment and low levels of unemployment, the likes of which Australia hasn't sustained for a very long period of time. And that's a testament to the fact that we've managed to keep our economy strong through COVID, to keep businesses safe and secure, and to stop seeing those mass business closures other parts of the world have seen, and to keep job rates up indeed to levels above what they were pre-COVID.
CROUCHER: We can all celebrate 80 per cent that's for sure. Tanya Plibersek, Simon Birmingham, thank you for your time this morning.