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04 October 2021

SUBJECTS: People with disability left behind on vaccines; Victoria’s path out of lockdown; domestic borders; Labor’s economic policy.
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: As we near reopening targets around the nation, concern is growing for the relatively high number of disabled who have not yet had the chance to receive the jab despite being in the first stage of the rollout. 75.9 per cent of people in disability accommodation are fully vaccinated. Around 67.5 per cent have had one jab, which leaves many vulnerable people still unprotected. Our political editor, Andrew Clennell, spoke earlier to the Shadow Minister for the NDIS and Government Services, Bill Shorten.
ANDREW CLENNELL: Bill Shorten, thanks for your time. Now, two thirds of people in disability accommodation have been vaccinated, I guess that's a lot less than the 90 per cent in aged care. What do you think is the reason behind that? And what are you hearing out of the group homes and COVID spread, et cetera?
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Listen, I think it's actually outrageous that the Morrison Government, secretly, without telling anyone, decided to move vulnerable people with disabilities from being top of the queue alongside aged care, to down the queue. And the Government's been tricky every day ever since they have vaccinated. 66 per cent of people in disability group homes, but that proportion is about 27,000 people all up. Now there's 470,000 people on the NDIS who are profoundly and severely impaired. And the Government's just simply ignored them, forgotten them.
CLENNELL: Well, I wanted to ask you about the situation in Victoria now. Obviously, what was billed as a short, sharp lockdown has turned into anything but. Is it simply a case apart from the Delta variant being what it is that people have had enough, they're not complying anymore? There's only so much people in Melbourne and Victoria can take.
SHORTEN: Perhaps there is a little bit of that that. Lockdown, after a while, lose its efficiency at the margins because some people just give up trying. But I want to just say through you, Andrew, to your viewers around Australia, Melburnians have been really tough. I actually think most people are still adhering to the rules. I think most people are committed to trying to protect their families, to get through this. So, I wouldn't want a view out there that, you know, some of those protesters and sooks are representative of the vast majority of Melburnians. I think most Melburnians are sticking to the rules. We see that the end is in sight, but of course it is hard, and some people have found the going too hard and so perhaps have stopped trying as hard as they once did.
CLENNELL: Well, just on the protests. I mean, you spoke about baby Nazis there, but do you concede there were also a heck of a lot of construction workers there and members of the CFMEU taking part in those protests?
SHORTEN: On the day after the riot, I said there were genuine construction workers, but there were other people, people seeking to politicise COVID for their own extreme ideologies. It was an unhappy marriage of the opportunists with the crazy views and other people who are just fed up. But I might just say it wasn't most construction workers. It's not most members of unions, or people who aren't members of unions. Most people are actually adhering to the rules and when these clowns ended up on the Shrine of Remembrance carrying on, and I do not know for the life of me why Tony Abbott's backing the, you know, the crazy fringe and the unhappy, I think once they went to the shrine, they lost everyone in Melbourne and probably all around Australia.
CLENNELL: Is there a danger Daniel Andrews will be too cautious coming out of lockdown, do you think, given what Victorians have put up with compared to, say, the New South Wales approach?
SHORTEN: It's a good issue that you raise. Gladys Berejiklian is certainly opening up more quickly than Dan Andrews. But having said that, I think the Dan Andrews has gone the distance. This Delta variant is unfortunately out and about in the community. I think that you'll find that Victoria will open up. Things will move quite quickly when they do. There's no doubt, though, that everyone needs hope. You can't front up every day and just tell people bad news. You've got to give people a sense that there's light at the end of the tunnel.
CLENNELL: When should other states open up to New South Wales and Victoria, in your view?
SHORTEN: Good question again, I think that once people are double vaxed in big numbers, we've got to move towards that outcome, don't we? We are one country at the end of the day. So, I think that once we get to what the experts say is the safe level of vaccination, then we've got to get on with it.
CLENNELL: So, is it 80 percent? Is 80 per cent it, or is it higher?
SHORTEN: Well, a bit like nuclear subs, everyone's an expert on nuclear subs. Now we're all epidemiologists in our spare time. I do accept that it seems to be a fair body of expert support for 80 per cent double vaccine from 12+.
CLENNELL: Now, Anthony Albanese's gotten rid of your franking credits and negative gearing policies from the last poll, Jim Chalmers reportedly talking about keeping the policy on taxing trusts. What do you make of that? Do you support that?
SHORTEN: Oh, I only know what I read in the newspapers about that last matter. Listen, I support that we took a pretty bold package of tax reform to the last election. Whilst we got close, we didn't win. So, I do support that we don't take those policies to this election, that they're not our policies. Full stop. And that was in terms of franking credits in terms of some of the other things. In terms of the trusts policy, I don't know what the deliberations have been in other parts of the opposition. I know that Jim is conscientious and if someone's chosen to sort of leak against him, well, that doesn't - you know, that's pretty backward. I would have thought. Pretty stupid.
CLENNELL: Well, on climate change, if Scott Morrison comes up with a medium-term target before Glasgow, will that be a bitter pill for you?
SHORTEN: Why would that be?
CLENNELL: Well, given that you were campaigned against for having a medium-term target stronger than the Government's?
SHORTEN: Oh, listen, Mr Morrison, I don't think is a man of deep convictions on very much at all. He’s a mile wide and an inch deep. He campaigned against me in electric vehicles when we were going to build charging stations on national highways, he’s now funding that. If he does a backflip on medium term targets, that confirms to me two things: that when Mr Morrison says something, don't believe it because he might change his mind tomorrow, but it also confirms to me that we've wasted three years and again from even the last election to the next election, not taking the sort of action we should have been taking. And that's why I think, you know, if Mr Morrison says it's raining, you're always better off to go outside and check.
CLENNELL: Okay, and just finally, Clive Palmer looks like he's getting involved with this election campaign after his role in the last election campaign. What's your reaction to that?
SHORTEN: I think Clive Palmer and some of his people are not healthy for our democracy. You know, the fact that they're sending all that political spam out on the SMS messaging system, you know, at the last election, he said that he wanted to end spamming. Now the blokes got more money than anyone else, so now he wants to spam like it's going out of fashion. No, I think Mr Palmer is not a healthy addition to our political process, and I think that the fact that he can use so much of his personal wealth to try and affect the outcome of elections means we're in danger of having our democratic system in Australia going down the path of America, where whoever has the biggest wallet determines the outcome.
CLENNELL: Bill Shorten, thanks for your time.
SHORTEN: Cheers, thank you.