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22 September 2021

SUBJECTS: Melbourne protests; vaccination mandates.

ALI MOORE, HOST: Bill Shorten is the federal Labor MP for Maribyrnong, former Labor leader, of course, former union leader. Bill Shorten, good morning. 
MOORE: You've called these protesters man baby Nazis. I just wanted to ask you, I mean, there's no question that there is a large number of the anarchist rabble, as Tim Pallas put it, but there does seem to be a crossover, doesn't there? And there are some tradies in these protests with genuine concerns. Can we really dismiss the whole lot as, you know, a pack of Nazis?
SHORTEN: Well, what I said yesterday is that there were certainly some construction workers in the crowd, so I didn't say all of them were. And I said some people have genuine concerns, but there's no doubt that there are far right opportunists seeking to recruit, seeking to co-opt, the genuine stresses of COVID and try and weaponise it for violent and un-Melbourne, un-Australian scenes that we saw yesterday. But I suppose what you're saying is, do I think that there's a lot of our fellow Melburnians and Victorians who are stressed, who are angry, who've got genuine grievances about lockdown? Yeah, there are. But you know, I've spent 20 years trying to stand up for people who feel unfairly treated, and the path of this random, opportunistic violence, it can't all be just put down to genuine outrage. I just think this morning, Ali, as we're talking, I think what real strength is and what real weakness is. Real strength is the police. Real strength is the nurses, the doctors. Real strength is the parents who are saddling up for yet again another - you know, its school holidays, but who've saddled up for home schooling. Real strength is the small businesses who had to through no fault of their own dip into their superannuation in their savings to pay the landlord the rent. But all of that sacrifice doesn't deserve this sort of wanton stupidity. And sure, there are some people who are genuinely upset and afraid, but there are other people who are just being opportunists and they're manipulating the genuine concerned people. 
MOORE: So how do you stop it? 
SHORTEN: We vaccinate, and we get out of lockdown.
MOORE: Well, then the question then becomes, how do you vaccinate? There is a very - well, I won't say very because no doubt it's changing, but the latest research from 10 days ago does show the construction industry has the highest rate of vaccine hesitancy among industries. So, you know, 18 months into a pandemic, how do we address that?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, I said back in July that we'd have to get to 80 per cent and people said, oh, that'll never happen. Two months on, it's happening, Now, in the construction industry. They've are many of them have worked through, and that's good. We've needed construction. But perhaps because they haven't, some of them haven't seen the hardship that other sectors have seen, perhaps people have thought I can put this off. I mean, what was wrong is that you had the CFMEU, who some criticised being too militant have been in recent month advertising, not mandating vaccinations, but saying to people, get out and get vaccinated, then they get attacked. I mean - 
MOORE: But isn’t that a cop out, Bill Shorten? That you can be encouraging of vaccination, but not supportive of mandating?
SHORTEN: No, do you know what I think a cop out is? Complaining about free medicine, which is not experimental. Free medicine, which makes you safe, makes your kids safe, means that we can travel, means that our kids can go back to school. I actually think the biggest cop out I've seen is the last couple of days.
MOORE: But so why won't the union movement support mandatory vaccinations?
SHORTEN: Ultimately, it's the Government who’s got to make that call, but I think - 
MOORE: But they have. They've made it in the industry, and John Setka says he's not in support. He's in support of vaccinations. He does not support mandatory vaccinations,
SHORTEN: Well, that’s his call. What I'm concerned about, and I think in caring professions, where you've got occupations where people are vulnerable, people are exposed, you're going to have to mandate vaccinations. Do I think you need to mandate it in every sector for every job? Probably not, but I think that we do – 
MOORE: In the construction sector?
SHORTEN: Well, the Government said to do that. So, I'll support that. But the point about this is, can we just sort of get back into the - not you, but some of these people who are complaining - can we get back into the real world? The real world is these vaccines are not experimental, and I can already hear the keyboard warriors of the anti-vaxxers sending in their incoming hate mail to me, these are not experimental vaccines. COVID is not a false, a made-up virus. It's real. There are hospital wards full of very sick people.
MOORE: No, I just fear, Bill Shorten, that people who don't get that by now are not going to get it.
SHORTEN: Well, maybe you're right, but we've got to keep trying. I mean, I get that there's anxiety. There are some people legitimately who can't have a vaccination.
MOORE: And if it's a medical reason, we accept that, look Bill Shorten - 
SHORTEN: And we had the internet spreading all sorts of disinformation and some of our more radical politicians - 
MOORE: Bill Shorten, we’re running up to the news, so look, thank you very much for joining us and we'll obviously watch with some fear and trepidation and our fingers crossed for today.
SHORTEN: And I hope they respect the journalists. 
MOORE: Too true.
SHORTEN: Yes, absolutely.
MOORE: Bill Shorten, thank you for your time this morning, Bill Shorten.