By Tanya Plibersek

10 October 2021




SUBJECTS: NSW reopening; Vaccination numbers; The Liberals’ vaccine rollout; China. 
CHARLES CROUCHER, HOST: We've been promised for months by those in charge that if we got the vaccine, we would be rewarded. For New South Wales, that is just 15 hours away. Joining me now to discuss what's next for the whole country, Financial Services Minister Jane Hume and Shadow Minister for Education, Tanya Plibersek. Tanya, we'll start with you. You'll be first out - New South Wales is at 73 per cent double dosed to the moment, but entering uncharted territory, opening up with thousands of cases still in the community, are you nervous?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: I'm excited. I think most people who live in New South Wales are excited about kids getting back to school, businesses reopening, getting back to the gym, getting back to work. All of these sorts of things that we've got in the next few days and weeks. People are excited about that. We do have to watch what's happening in the health system though. We need to make sure that our hospitals can cope, that other groups that are still under vaccinated are caught up quickly. We need to keep an eye on all of that. 
CROUCHER: Jane, Victoria is a little bit behind, but heading in the right direction. How badly is this boost needed for the economy down there?
JANE HUME, MINISTER FOR SUPERANNUATION, FINANCIAL SERVICES AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMY, MINISTER FOR WOMEN'S ECONOMIC SECURITY: The economy down here really is in dire straits and we need people to get back to work, get businesses back in business. We've had a pretty confronting weekend of numbers of COVID cases, but look, the good news is the number of hospitalisations and deaths is in fact around half of that of where New South Wales was at the same stage of the same cycle of the pandemic. So, that's good news. That means vaccinations really are working so that we can get back to our lives as we remember them. It's also a salient lesson, I think, for New South - no for Queensland and WA to get on board and make sure that they get their populations vaccinated too. 
CROUCHER: You mentioned the numbers, the three largest days have been the last three days. How does that play into the mindset down there, because it must be tough?
HUME: Well, it is because we've had so many days of lockdown. So many days of kids missing school. I've got one of my kids, he's doing his HSC, he's Year 12 - he's missed over 150 days of schooling in the last two years. It's been really tough on so many parts of the community, but the great news is we're nearly there, those vaccinations targets have been fantastic and it's terrific to see to the number of 12 to 15 year olds now getting vaccinated too. Around 49 per cent of 12 to 15 year olds around the country in just three and a half weeks, so that's really good news. 
CROUCHER: Tanya, Dominic Perrottet is making his mark in New South Wales. We're hearing this morning the promise of no more lockdowns, as well as the idea of bringing forward the date of international travelling. Is that a good idea?
PLIBERSEK: I think people are keen for life to get back to normal -
HUME: I think it's a terrific idea, I think people want to get back into, back into normal. That's exactly right. I think Tanya's right. 
CROUCHER: And Tanya, your thoughts?
PLIBERSEK: I think we are keen to get back to normal, and the sad thing about this, of course, is this could have happened some time ago if the federal government had got the vaccine rollout and quarantine right from the beginning. This whole second lockdown in New South Wales, the whole second wave in Victoria, we think probably could have been avoided if we'd got vaccine and quarantine right in the first place. 
CROUCHER: Jane, is that right? Is this necessary? 
HUME: Well, you know, the frustrating thing. The frustrating thing there, of course, is at the beginning of this year, in fact, in the end of December, Greg Hunt came out and said by the end of October, every Australian that wants a vaccination will be able to have vaccination - would be able to be double vaccinated. And that's exactly where we've hit, we've hit that mark. Sure, there were some bumps along the way. There were some supply issues, but those have been overcome and I've been thrilled at the enthusiasm with which Australians have really taken up the opportunity to get vaccinated. They've gone out there and done the right thing. Now, we've just going to keep going to get to those last couple of milestones. 
CROUCHER: Jane, finally, we've seen China's Premier has called Tony Abbott a 'pitiful politician'. What does that play into international relations with this country that's still so important for us when it comes to economic relations.
HUME: Well we do have a very important economic relationship with China, but of course, most importantly, we have to act in our best strategic national interest as well, and that's exactly what the Morrison Government will always do. Relations are tense, but I think that that's not - Australia isn't on their own there. Nations around the world have gathered together to say, to make sure that that there is a strategic alliance that can counter any negative responses coming out of China, but there will always be opportunities to build a relationship going forward. Our door is always open it. 
CROUCHER: Tanya, enjoy the freedom tomorrow. Jane, we'll cheer on Victoria's vaccination numbers right across the country.