TELEVISION INTERVIEW TODAY SHOW – CHANNEL 9 - TUESDAY, 17 MARCH 2020
BILL SHORTEN MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
E&OE TRANSCRIPT TELEVISION INTERVIEW TODAY SHOW – CHANNEL 9 TUESDAY, 17 MARCH 2020
SUBJECTS: Coronavirus; Vulnerable Australians; School closures; Government response; Test shortages; Test delays; Regrets in your twenties.
ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: As we know the economic impact of the Coronavirus is gathering pace, global stocks around the world are in free fall, Australian shares yesterday fell a staggering ten percent and in response the RBA is now considering an emergency cut in rates, while the government is set to announce a second round of multi-billion dollar economic stimulus, and to discuss I’m joined by the Shadow Minister for Government Services, Bill Shorten and Nine News Adelaide’s Tom Rehn, good morning to both of you, Bill to you first, in such uncertain times it is tough to know exactly what to do, but do you think the government is doing a good job keeping the economy afloat?
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG:Yeah, I think we are all in this together, so the last thing Australians who are worried about the pandemic want to hear is politicians bagging politicians, so we’re all in this together. But, having said that, I’m visiting a lot of families with kids with disabilities, because that is part of my job, to talk about disabilities and the disabled, people are really scared out there, and they’re not even scared for themselves and like that letter you read out from that teacher, they’re worried about what happens to their kids, what happens to their grandparents. I think, like it or not, people need to recognise it’s not an economic problem we are in, it’s a health emergency, which has some economic problems. We’ve got to deal with health problems first.
LANGDON: Yeah I mean we heard, Tom we heard the U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnston come out today saying that the elderly, those with medical conditions, and pregnant women should all self-isolate, and it just makes you wonder are we doing enough here to protect our most vulnerable do you think?
TOM REHN, CHANNEL 9 PRESENTER &INTERVIEWEE: Absolutely, as we all want to protect the most vulnerable don’t we, the elderly, the sick, those that can’t help themselves like Bill alerted to and he is meeting with a lot of them, I think as well for young kids Ally, you’ve got a family, I’ve got a young family and just taking the six year old shopping last night, he’s never seen empty shelves before, so they worry about the simple things, like is there enough food for us to be able to eat, it’s just that fear and you want to try and alleviate that as much as you possibly can because it’s the fear that can be almost as damaging as the virus itself, It’s not easy to do that because we are all so uncertain as to what is going to happen, trying to carry on and look after each other and stay calm is just so important, I know it’s easier said then done but we just have to try our best don’t we?
LANGDON: Bill, I recognise what you’re saying there before - this is first and foremost a health issue, a health crisis that we’re facing, but a lot of people who are writing into us this morning and this past week have been, they’re really worried about their jobs, a lot of them are casual they are wondering it is going to get worse before it is going to get better, it’s understandable that people are worried about the economic impact of this too isn’t it?
SHORTEN: Completely understandable, so we say keep calm and that’s sensible because panic doesn’t fix anything, but what I think people don’t want is political valium, we’ve got to get our messaging right, everyone says keep calm and we are, we are telling our kids to keep calm, but then what happens is we see the shelves and shortages, we worry about the jobs, I think this isn’t just a case of stimulus anymore, I think it is a case of compensate. What I mean by that is you’ve got the casuals, you’ve got people working, you’ve got small business - at this point we are living in a time that no Australian has ever seen before, so I think just relying on the old strategies is not enough, we need to look after workers, we need to give them some money if they’re not working, we need to give the small businesses interest free loans, there are businesses out there that have just lost their cash, so I think rather than stimulate, it’s compensate. I also think that all of our health workers, can I just say because it is a health problem - health workers of Australia are probably the most important people in the country, and if they close the schools we need to make sure that those families in particular can get childcare, because we need our health workers on the front line and they’re our number one group in Australia at the moment with respect to the rest of us.
LANGDON: Um look we are also hearing this morning, I mean you look at how many people in Australia are now diagnosed with this, its three hundred and fifty, but the real figure is considered to be much higher because we don’t have enough tests and the test results are taking you know up to a week. We were told yesterday that for some of our employees at Nine, it could take up to two weeks, is this good enough?
SHORTEN: No, that’s too long, let’s be straight, you know, we’ve got, that is too long and other countries are turning it around quicker, so we’ve got to turn it around quicker and that’s why Chloe and I, my wife, we’ve kept our kids home from school, we are in the lucky position that we can, I get that some families cant, but you know two weeks for a test is too long, that’s ridiculous.
LANGDON: That’s really interesting that you are keeping your kids’ home from school Bill, Tom have you made such a drastic decision?
REHN: No we haven’t, not at this stage, my wife works as well, she is three-and-a-half days, but she’s at work a few days a week and you know we’ve discussed the possibility if that does happen, Bill’s right it is going to have an impact on either myself, and I’m at channel 9 like you Ally, same with Sarah, she is going to have to stay home, we have discussed that possibility because it looks likely from what we are getting emails from the school that it is just a matter of time you would think before the schools shut down.
LANGDON: Hey guys because you know we are talking so much about Coronavirus this morning I do want to end on something a little different and lighter, what is your biggest regret, because people have been posting their biggest regrets from their twenties, you know from unhappy relationships, not chasing a dream, what have you both got for us?
SHORTEN: I was going to let Tom go first [laughter], I’m happy to say I can close my eyes and think of some of my fashion blunders but um I reckon the biggest regret I have is I used to be in the army reserve for a couple of years as a rifleman, but when I was at uni there were just so many things to do and I had part time work to support myself at uni, but maybe I could have stayed in the army reserve a bit longer and I don’t know, maybe become a corporal.
LANGDON: Oh, I don’t know, you didn’t make too many bad career choices I don’t reckon. Tom how about yourself?
REHN: Oh, I wish, I did the whole musical theatre thing a bit of acting, a bit of singing stuff Ally, I wish I didn’t have that haircut, look at that, what was I thinking? And the look, disgraceful. That is my beautiful wife.
LANGDON: Were you an NSYNC member, I don’t know?
REHN: Maybe one day I’ll do a rendition and see whether not, better late than never maybe Ally [all laugh].
LANGDON: Tom I have a very long memory I won’t forget that you just said that, gentlemen thank you so much for joining us to talk about a very serious discussion but to end on a laugh, it’s great