FRIDAY, 9 JULY 2021
SUBJECTS: Sydney divided over harsh lockdown enforcement in Western Sydney; NSW cabinet members leaking against Gladys Berejiklian; vaccine rollout.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. We've repeatedly been told that on the COVID front line, we're all in this together, right? But this morning, Sydneysiders are divided. Residents in the southwest furious. They're facing a police crackdown to enforce the lockdown, a blitz never imposed on the east or northern beaches. Locals told not to see their families and get this, not to buy shoes. For more, we're joined by Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten in Melbourne and political editor for The Daily Telegraph Anna Caldwell in Sydney. Morning, guys. Nice to see you.
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: G’day.
STEFANOVIC: Bill. This must bring back a whole bunch of memories for you.
SHORTEN: It is amazing how history repeats. In my electorate, we had the public housing towers lockdown where within the space of an hour there were 600 police, doing their job but, you know, when you wake up, when you go to your window and you see hundreds of armed police, you think, well, where does this come from? And what's happened is, of course, there's been poor communication, I suspect.
SHORTEN: But of course, the people in some of these suburbs feel the double standards. They say when was outbreaking elsewhere that we didn't see any of this reaction, it's almost like a seesaw. When there's too little reaction to begin with, then you get to too much reaction. This is a health emergency, not a law and order emergency. And I think my advice to Gladys, not that she's asked is, put more people in doctors and nurses gear out there doing tests and perhaps just call back the police presence a bit.
STEFANOVIC: I'd be sending teams out there. I agree with you, 100 per cent. Health workers and people who can consult and be there to sympathise with people in the west and south western parts of the city. This is Anna, a huge problem that's been created by Gladys Berejiklian. The east didn't see any of this and it may be needed in the west, but this action wasn't seen before. So, she's created this divide now.
ANNA CALDWELL, DAILY TELEGRAPH: Well, that's right. I mean, the cold, hard truth is that if we had taken tougher action in the east, we wouldn't be in this predicament now. So, it's actually very scary for those people waking up in south western Sydney suburbs this morning. You know, one hundred police on the streets and that has an on-flow effect. You know, people don't necessarily feel confident to come forward for testing if they have an uncomfortable relationship that, you know, makes them uncomfortable with police on the streets. You know, I think there are huge problems that they are facing in this space. And you're right, the unfairness is certainly being felt in this community. Those community leaders who actually are trying to communicate the message to the people, you know, feel a huge sense of injustice.
STEFANOVIC: You feel it for them. I don't live there, but it's the working, beating heart of Sydney. And – Bill, go on.
SHORTEN: I mean, the thing is, we get it's not the police's fault. They're doing their job.
SHORTEN: They've been sent out there. They'll be from stations all around Sydney. They've been sent out there. They're following orders. Fair enough. But I just say to Gladys and the people in charge, this is a communication exercise. I mean, people, other people around Sydney and elsewhere may say what's the problem with a few police walking up and down? But if you don't think that that's been the standard applied elsewhere, it will get your back up, somehow, you're being treated as second class.
SHORTEN: Now, the answer here is communicate, vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. Talk to people but bring people with you.
STEFANOVIC: Ok, vaccinations in a second. But, Anna, I want to talk to you about this, because I'm sure I mean, I think the cabinet in New South Wales, from what I can read - and I'm no expert in the cabinet of New South Wales, you are - is leaking like a sieve. We've seen New South Wales Ministers speaking anonymously over this in-fighting and the Government is still split on how to handle this. They're saying, well, some are saying we'll have to live with this, others going for zero spread in the community. Where does it lie?
CALDWELL: Well, that's right. So, they certainly are split. But you make a good point, Karl. There's a reason that these people are talking anonymously, because I think the truth is people talk a really big game when it comes to the idea of living with the virus. But I think Gladys Berejiklian actually made her position very clear yesterday. You know, she said there is no place in the world that has managed to live with Delta. You know, after almost two weeks of being locked down, heading into a third week, we're still seeing 40, almost 40 cases in one day. You know, that's with strict measures. So, the idea that we can live with this and kind of keep some sort of happy balance of having a few cases getting on with our lives, Berejiklian said yesterday that just doesn't exist. So, yes, there is a divide, but there's a reason no one will put their name to it, because I think when push comes to shove, nobody really wants to own the idea of having thousands and thousands of cases in the community.
STEFANOVIC: But what it shows is there are divisions and they're prepared to create nuisance behind the scenes on a policy that will not work. They’re that upset about Gladys Berejiklian and whatever happened in the past, they're now they want it out there that they're not happy. You know, they want to have their cake and eat it, too. I mean, she's got problems.
CALDWELL: I mean, yeah, look, I do think it's interesting that these conversations are being had at a time when, as we've just discussed, south west Sydney and Sydney in general, this is a crisis. This has become far worse than any of us expected. And the most important thing at the moment, and smart politicians know this, the most important thing is getting messaging out to the community. so they don't need that kind of confusion. So, you're right, it is significant.
STEFANOVIC: Bill, if you want to do something, plonk yourself in the western suburbs of Sydney in the lead up to the next federal election, you might find yourself picking up a couple of seats. The Federal Government has stepped in with 300,000 vaccines as we know, in Sydney. Melbourne's ticked off this morning, we’ll be asking the Prime Minister where he found them. But they had their share, didn't they, when they when things were bleak for Melbourne?
SHORTEN: Well, when we were going through the lockdowns last year, the 130 days, the vaccines weren't as developed. I think the truth of the matter is for Victoria and Melbourne though, we say Scott who? Like, he doesn't know where Melbourne or Victoria is. I'm happy that he's managed to magic up some vaccines for people in Sydney. That's excellent. But when it came to economic support in Melbourne, the bloke couldn't even find Melbourne on the map. So, you know, he’ll probably need to do some work in Sydney because in Melbourne he was just MIA.
STEFANOVIC: Well, he's doing some work in Sydney, sending those vaccines out there.
SHORTEN: Yeah well, I wish he’d done more I Melbourne.
STEFANOVIC: It is a worry for the small businesses throughout Sydney as Melbourne went through. It’s not so much the big ones, it's the small businesses. How do they pay rent, how do they pay wages? Anna, we're hearing there'll be some sort of agreement that'll come out or some sort of policy that'll come out or some sort of help. What are you hearing?
CALDWELL: Hearing. That's right. So, they are still working behind the scenes. I mean, there's talk of more stuff, talk of recovery package and talk of assistance for rent. The truth is none of it goes far enough at this point in time. You know, businesses are on their knees. Scott Morrison came out yesterday and said we'll remove the asset test after the second week. Well, that doesn't really help in the first two weeks. And it's still not enough. It's still not as generous as JobKeeper. So, there is a way to go on this.
STEFANOVIC: Well, it's a city that's very much, I think, on this Friday, divided by more than bridges and toll roads. There's a lot going on. Appreciate your time today. Thank you. Talk to you soon.
SHORTEN: Good morning.