30 March 2021


SUBJECTS: Queensland lockdown; COVID vaccine delays; Morrison Government reshuffles cabinet; Brauer College controversy.
LEILA MCKINNON, HOST: Welcome back, it’s what Queensland and the country didn't want, just days before Easter, Greater Brisbane plunged into a snap lockdown. States closing borders and our tourism industry facing yet another massive blow. Let's discuss with Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and Triple M’s Gus Worland, who's in Adelaide. Welcome to you both. 



MCKINNON: Good morning to you. Bill, I'll start with you. So, frontline health care workers have not been vaccinated. This nurse that travelled to Byron Bay works in a COVID ward. 


MCKINNON: What's happening? It's outrageous.

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, as someone who went through 130 days locked down in Melbourne, can I just say to everyone in Brisbane, it is traumatic. Holiday period, people were just thinking there was some blue sky and there’d be full bookings. This is terrible news. I do not understand for the life of me why we haven't vaccinated our frontline health care workers. You know, I would say this, but Mr Morrison has one job. That's to roll out the vaccinations and now people are getting sick, and the health care workers, I think everyone in Australia is saying, what is going on? Let's get those vaccinations done, you know, as soon as possible.

MCKINNON: I guess it's possible we could have avoided this three day lockdown, too. I mean, maybe not, but at the very least, protecting the lives of people who are working in our hospitals. Gus, what was your reaction? I mean, it's so tough on the people of Brisbane, especially the tourism industry, for it to happen at a time like this, isn't it? 

WORLAND: Yeah, absolutely. And how can that frontline work and not be getting vaccinated straight away? I just can't believe it. Our roll out has been so slow compared to other parts of the world and we've been dominant, we've been number one. We've been sort of world leading and how we've dealt with COVID. But we've seen to really muck up the vaccine rollout. But, yeah, I mean, I was heading there on Tuesday for my daughter's water polo national championships, something that people have been working for for a year. That's just me personally. How many other people wanting to be up in Queensland for Christmas and see people - and as you say, the tourism industry. Let's just hope that it's only three days and then we can move forward after that. But at some stage, guys, we need to be able to have these little outbreaks and still keep moving somehow. I mean, until we get the vaccination, even after that, are we still going to have these lockdowns even in a year's time? At some stage we need to get back to some sort of new normal. 

MCKINNON: Yeah, it's difficult, isn't it? Because you want to blame somebody because nobody wants to have to go through this. But we are dealing with a pandemic and possibly could have been a longer lockdown if we hadn't have had a short one. But we’re particularly vulnerable aren’t we, because we're victims of our success. So many of us haven't had the virus so that we really need that vaccine.  

SHORTEN: That's right. I think that because people haven't been dying of COVID, perhaps the Government's thought vaccination, we can take our time. The truth of the matter is, whilst COVID affects anyone, then it can affect everyone. We're ninety fourth from the world, though, in the roll out. So, I think we just need to get our skates on.  

MCKINNON: Yeah, and the economy has been, actually it's rolled on okay, would you admit that? We've actually done quite well.

SHORTEN: Australia's done quite well. But in some sections, you know, the CBD of our big cities, the travel agents, international students and higher education, there's some sectors hurting - live events. Let's get that vaccination going for our frontline workers. That, to me, seems like a pretty obvious solution. 

MCKINNON: Yeah. Oh, god yes, it is. Now, the PM's Ministry of Women. Scott Morrison, announcing one of the most extraordinary reshuffles in political history as he dramatically increased female representation in cabinet. He called Marise Payne, the Prime Minister for Women. Not a good look, you reckon there?

SHORTEN: Well, I actually hope that the reshuffle works. For a moment, forgetting the politics of it, women have been expressing their anger. They've been saying enough is enough, not enough has happened. So hopefully this can help reset a sense that women are heard. But having said that, it's still chaotic for the Government. This is our sixth Defence Minister in eight years. It's a tired Government. So, I think it also now needs to be followed up with other actions. There's reports about reforming sexual harassment laws and the way women are treated. So, there's a lot of other work to be done behind this. I hope it works. We'll have to wait and see.  

MCKINNON: Yeah, it's a debate that we have to have and hopefully things will start to change. But Gus, what are you hearing? Do you think this is working for voters? Do they feel like the Prime Minister is putting this this issue to bed as something that he won't have to suffer from at the election?  

WORLAND: I think it's a little bit too early to call. I certainly feel that there's been the correction required. And, you know, a father of two daughters, I love hearing this sort of stuff. But unfortunately, there's a - you know, I hear in pubs and clubs and the places that I go around, people just sort of saying, well, of course he's changing it because he's under the pump and under the pressure to do so, and these are just sort of token issues. I certainly don't believe that myself, but that's certainly what I think voters might see at the moment, because it's been such a correction, but, you know, the best person for the job that's all we ever want, is the best person to get that job, whether it's male or female. 

MCKINNON: Yeah, Bill, I guess you know better than anybody, the ALP is out there planning in Revesby, planning its election campaign today. People vote a lot on the hip pocket, as you've seen. Do you think that this problem that the Prime Minister has had with women will be a leg up for your party, or no?  

SHORTEN: I think the issue is the equal treatment of women in Australian society. I think that's got to be the goal. 

MCKINNON: But will it play out at the ballot box, though? 

SHORTEN: Well, I think a lot of women are marking the Government down at the moment, not so much - they don't blame the Government for everything that's ever happened in the past. But if you're the Government, the buck stops with you about how you promote the equal treatment of women. I mean, in other countries, they're moving ahead of us. We've always prided ourselves on being a very fair go, egalitarian country. But there'll be a lot of women working today, preparing, getting their kids lunch ready, going to work. And they'd say, well, maybe we're not getting the fair go we deserve in our wages and the way we get treated in workplaces. So, I think it will be an issue with the election. But I will always say that good policy is good politics. If you get the policy right, then the politics will follow.

MCKINNON: Right. And let's end on this one. A huge controversy in Victoria after male students at Brauer College in Warrnambool were forced to apologise to female classmates for, quote, misbehaviours of their gender. Gus, we might start with you this time. You know, it kind of makes me sad to think of these poor boys being shamed and a bit confused. What did you make of it? 

WORLAND: Yeah, I think I agree with everyone on the planet on this one, it's a disgrace. To get those boys to apologise for something that they haven't done, to get them just sort of thrown in the in the loop and to turn round to someone that they might actually really like as their friend and someone they've done nothing wrong to and apologise. I think it's a disgrace, that school has got that absolutely wrong. And if I was a parent of one of those kids, I'd be furious this morning.  

MCKINNON: Yeah, it's a conversation that we should be having in schools I think, Bill, that, you know, it's about kindness. It's about how men and women are treated in the workforce, the things that children of this age should start thinking about. But this was so clumsy. What did you make of it?  

SHORTEN: Well, I've seen the reports and it does seem that it's been carried out in a manner which has got a lot of people upset and understandably. But if we just dial it back to the broader picture, you know, I've got two kids now at uni and I've got one in primary school. I do want the little boys and young men to be taught respectful relationships. Whether or not this school's got this one right, I don't know. But what I do know is that, thinking of all those people watching the show, getting ready to go to work, they're going to send their kids to school. I do think the parents alone can't do it all. So, I think if the schools are teaching our young men how to respect young women I think this has got to be a net plus, but we've got to do it in the right way and not cause the sort of blow up which you identified this morning.

MCKINNON: Yeah, they definitely have pulled the wrong rein there. Thank you very much Bill Shorten in the studio. Good luck at Revesby today. And thank you very much to you, Gus there in Adelaide.