16 March 2021


SUBJECTS: European pause on AstraZeneca vaccine; Scott Morrison missing in action at the March For Justice; Government ending JobKeeper.
ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: Thanks for joining us this morning, there are major concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine with Germany, France, Italy and now Spain joining the growing list of European countries temporarily suspending use of the jab. It heaps huge pressure on the Government here, which is banking on a million doses a week of that vaccine as part of the national rollout. Let's discuss with Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie. Thanks for joining us. Bill, AstraZeneca has been very clear the vaccine does not cause clots, but do you think we should be pressing pause? 

BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MAIBYRNONG: Well, I'm going to take the advice of the Therapeutic Goods Administration. They're the people who regulate the use of drugs in Australia and vaccines. Listen, I don't know if they’re the best in the world, but I don't think there's anyone any better. So, I'm not going to start a stampede this morning of people saying, don't take the vaccine. Let's just use the Australian experts, the TGA, and they'll be monitoring this. If they say this is good to go, then that's good enough for me. And we've got experts in Australia. So, I just would commend viewers not to immediately sort of panic, if you know what I mean.

LANGDON: But I'm not even sure if it's panic Bill, but a lot of people will wake up this morning and go, hang on. You've now got, I think it's more than 10 European countries saying we're just going to pause this for a moment. So, a lot of people will be asking this morning, Jacqui, what do they know that we don't know?  And we're not just talking about anti vaccines here. Plenty of people who I think have already been a little bit concerned by how quickly this has been rolled out. This doesn't help allay those fears, Jacqui? 

SENATOR JACQUI LAMBIE: No. And it's not going to help you uptake either. I can assure you that much. This is a problem when you are trying to run through immunisations or medications that are not put on trial for long enough that you can see the repercussions of them. And we always knew this was going to be an issue. So, this is really going to be a worry, I think, with getting people to line up. And every time there's a negative come-out of any of these vaccines, it's going to push people further, further away from getting those vaccinations. And that in itself is really worrying. But, you know, I think when usually things take five to six years to clear and they've done it in a matter of months, that is concerning. And I've already said on this show before that a lot of people are concerned about this. They're not lining up in a hurry already. So, this is certainly not going to help, Ally.  

LANGDON: I don't have an issue with how quickly the vaccines came about because we've heard how that process happened. I'm quite confident in that. And I'm still keen to get the AstraZeneca jab, I’d like that noted. But I do think a lot of people are worried this morning, and they would say good reason. But I do want to move on because we saw some really powerful scenes in Canberra and right around the country yesterday, 100,000 people taking part in the March for Justice rallies. And look, this wasn't just fringe groups. We saw mothers, we saw grandmothers, a few husbands and sons, but no Prime Minister or any of his cabinet colleagues. Bill, I mean, let's be honest, Scott Morrison would not have received a rousing swell of support. Can you blame him for not fronting?  

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, it was a big, powerful moment both outside of parliament, but all around the country. I attended for a while. I think Mr Morrison pulled the wrong rein yesterday. Sometimes when you're a leader, you have to front up, even if you don't think everyone's going to give you a bunch of flowers. And what women were saying yesterday, and their men supporters, is that they've had enough. That talking about the same problems decade in, decade out - I mean, in Parliament we've got reports of harassment and rape. You know, the fact of the matter is that one in five Australian women over the age of 15 has reported that they've been the victim of an assault, that 40 per cent of women have felt harassed in the workplace. The Government's had a report for 12 months on the better treatment of women. You know, I think he should have turned up. Sometimes being a leader means you turn up even if you're not universally loved. But women want to feel heard, and he missed a golden opportunity to help that process.

LANGDON: Yeah, I agree with you. I think would have been a very powerful message for him to send yesterday, even if he was booed by the crowd. And can I remind you of this, John Howard fronting an angry pro-gun lobby back in 1996. He was wearing his flak jacket. This is obviously when he was changing gun laws post-Port Arthur massacre, but he fronted - and that was a really angry mob. We didn't see those scenes yesterday. Jacqui, do you think it would have made a difference had Scott Morrison made an appearance yesterday?

LAMBIE: Yeah, well, that's what leaders do, Ally. This is the problem here. This is what I've said all the way along about Scott Morrison. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And unfortunately, it takes a lot of courage to go out there and stand in front of those women. And he did not show he had the courage. But it's not just that, I was really disappointed that Marise Payne was not there, but she didn't make his show either, that the other women in his cabinet did not make a show. Where is the solidarity with what is going on out there with women in the workplace? And to me, it was really highly disappointing. I think he's going to pay the price for this for a very long time. And I wouldn't be surprised - this is not going away - if actually this is one of the reasons he loses his Prime Ministership in the future, because, quite frankly, he should have shown some courage and he should have stood in front of those women and their husbands and their sons, and he should have stood there and he should have taken it if he'd had to. That's how it is. That's life. You know, so harden up, get out there and listen to what people have to say. This was a really important matter yesterday. And he wasn't there. He was missing in action. 

LANGDON: Ever thought about being a life coach sometimes, Jacqui? You know, you deliver things in such a certain way. But, look, he did offer to meet with organisers in private, and that was something they refused. Was that a missed opportunity, Jacqui?

LAMBIE: No way. Why couldn't he have done both? It would have looked much better for him to be out there and say, you know what, I'm out here. I've listened, I've shown up. And, you know, I'd really appreciate it if you women – it shouldn’t have taken Jane Hume to give up a theatre appearance in the hallway to the leader of what was going on up here in those women's marches yesterday, and have a bit of a chat with her and say pretty much how privileged she was to the Prime Minister invited her in. That was a wrong move on behalf of Jane Hume as well. They have not handled this very well. Honestly, I asked the women of the Liberal Party to show some strength and get out there because you are part of this. Stop hiding behind your men. Get out there. We already know you've got problems in your own party, that's been going on for years. I do not want to see you leaving Parliament and saying something then. Have the courage to stand up and do something right and say something now.

LANGDON: Because we've seen plenty of women in the Liberal Party, we've seen Julie Bishop. We also saw Julia Banks coming out talking about this issue within the party. But just before you go, I do want to end on something else, Bill, because in the next half hour, we're going to be speaking to Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer, about the 12 billion dollars of new tax cuts he's announcing to replace JobKeeper. Think that's going to be enough?

SHORTEN: Josh Frydenberg is way off the mark here. What's the point of giving a tax cut to someone who doesn't have a job? The reality is that the travel agents, the live events industry, the retail industry in the big cities - I mean, the CBD of Melbourne some days is like a ghost town. All these people need JobKeeper. There's no point in Mr Frydenberg in his bubble offering people a tax cut if they don't have a job and can't pay any taxes. So he really needs to, March 31, big cliff, hundreds of thousands of people facing diabolical circumstances, keep JobKeeper in a targeted way, rather than just pretending that tax cuts are going to be the silver bullet to solve all the problems, because it isn't. 

LANGDON: All right. We've got the Treasurer on the show just after seven o'clock. We'll be putting that to him. Bill, Jacqui, thanks for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.

SHORTEN: Good to see you, Jacqui.

LAMBIE: Thanks, you too