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14 September 2021


SUBJECTS: Attack on NSW Police officers; backlash for businesses requiring vaccine proof; small businesses seek guidance and support for re-opening; Federal Government absent in leadership on vaccine requirements.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. Now a warning, these pictures are terribly confronting. Here we have two female police officers being attacked in broad daylight in a Sydney street. It is vicious. The attacker was eventually arrested after assaulting a third officer. Just terrible stuff. All the officers involved were taken to hospital for treatment before being released. For more, we're joined by Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten in Melbourne and 4BC’s Scott Emerson in Brissie. Bill, good morning to you. 


STEFANOVIC: Look, our police are already facing huge pressure at the moment over COVID and then they have this to deal with. I can't - I haven't seen a more cowardly attack in a long time.

SHORTEN: No, that footage is shocking. Parliaments all around Australia have reflected community attitudes, assaulting emergency workers in particular, but not just police, is regarded as an aggravated assault by our courts. It's a serious assault. Throw the book at them. That's just shocking, and no one should put up with that, but our police keep us safe, and that's why I think the community is going to be outraged at that footage. And it should be.

STEFANOVIC: We've had enough, haven't we, Scott? A shocking reminder of the dangers our police officers are facing every day, and it's been heightened over the last 18 months.

SCOTT EMERSON, 4BC: Well, I saw that footage on 9News last night, Karl. I just really felt sick when I saw it. It was such a vicious attack. And look, no one in any job should be fearful for their life going to do their work. But that is just the nature of being a copper. But that was really terrifying footage to see. And look, he's been arrested. He'll be charged. Throw the book at him, as Bill says, rather than some sort of slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, that's sometimes what we get. Surely in this case, we cannot allow that to be, 

STEFANOVIC: Whatever the defence is, it's not going to be enough. And I agree, let's increase those sentences for attacks on our police officers and also our other emergency services, I know our ambulance officers are also under the pump at the moment. Okay, let's move on. The backlash has begun, and it is getting nasty out there, isn't it? Restaurants and venues, which will quite rightly only allow entry to the fully vaccinated facing a torrent of online anger and anti-vaxxers, from anti-vaxxers. Chef Matt Moran is one of them. A decent, hardworking, very talented fella now facing unwanted abuse. Neil Perry is another who I spoke to for 60 Minutes on Sunday night, also now calling on government help with guidelines. And what about small businesses, smaller businesses? What do they do here? It's a tough spot. Bill, businesses have struggled so much during these lockdowns. We can't have them now afraid to reopen.

SHORTEN: No, to Matt Moran and Neil Perry and a lot of other businesses who are feeling some online keyboard warrior, anti-vax backlash - more power to your arm. Stay strong. A lot of businesses are complaining to me that the Government's gone missing. And where's the Federal Government here? You know, we're asking businesses to lead, but I think this is one of those times where Government’s got the biggest shoulders, and they should help clear up the ambiguity. To the anti-vaxxers who say that somehow this is discrimination, I don't believe, in an organised, civilised society, that individuals have the right to live wholly without any rules governing their conduct and an issue where we've got a vaccine which can prevent a contagious and lethal disease, I just think that we've got to get the balance of responsibilities right. No individual has the right to put their own interests completely ahead of the communal good. And these businesses are just trying to get on and make a dollar and make sure that their patrons are safe. To me, it's a no brainer.

STEFANOVIC: Scott this is only going to get more heated, isn't it?

EMERSON: Well, look, when you hear the term keyboard warrior, I know it's used widely, they're more keyboard cretins and unfortunately they will just keep doing this over and over and it's going to get harder and harder. As you say, Karl, as we get closer to fully vaccinated [across] the nation, eighty per cent, are people who want to protect their customers and protect their employees going to face this kind of abuse? And that's why often we hear social media is a sewer. When you see this kind of abuse that appears on social media attacking people like, as you say, Neil and Matt.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, this all comes with some big news in Victoria, Crown Casino's planned to open only to the vaccinated, while the State Government considers making the jab mandatory for construction workers. Bill, I mean, this is your forehand and there needs to be clarity around mandatory vaccines, rules, and the rights of employers to deal with customers. The Prime Minister at the moment says that's not what we do. We don't make vaccines in this country mandatory. Josh Frydenberg takes six of one, half a dozen of the other. I think the Fair Work Ombudsman says small businesses consult a lawyer. I mean, small businesses can't afford to consult a lawyer. We need to provide absolute clarity here from a government level so that small businesses don't have another expense.

SHORTEN: And nor should small business have to go and pay legal costs to do the job the government should do. Just on Crown, I mean, it's taking no jab, no play to a whole new level, though. What I would say - I thought that was funny. Okay, I'll keep going... Hey, the issue is with mandatory vaccination rules. You know, I did some homework. In Massachusetts in 1809, they started mandating vaccines in schools to help tackle smallpox. This is a debate two hundred years old. Yeah, I think what's happened is because of the internet and people can magnify reporting of adverse consequences, what we've got to remember is that people don't want to have to have a vaccination just like a walk in the park. It's to stop the spread of coronavirus. So, I think government does need to provide leadership. Now, I think Crown appears to be doing the process, the right way that they've, you know, polled and checked with their workforce, 63 percent of them would like it, mandatory vaccination. Give people some leave if they're feeling woozy for a day, give them a little bit of paid time to go and get the jab. But at the end of the day, we just want to re-open, and we want to make sure that we keep our community safe. And it has been demonstrated that if we can get north of 80 per cent of vaccination, then our hospitals won't be overwhelmed by the unvaccinated. And if a hospital system doesn't collapse, then we can cope with this virus, that's it.

STEFANOVIC: But you have to, you have to lay it on the line. And I would have thought Labor, it would have been right up their alley to say it's got to be mandatory vaccinations. Let's let there be no ambiguity here, and let's provide an absolute framework around every workplace so that small businesses don't have to suffer anymore.

SHORTEN: There's no doubt in my mind that the Government should step in and has the power in workplace relations to step in and make guidelines, full stop.

STEFANOVIC: Agreed. Scott?

EMERSON: Yeah. Look, I think there's got to be more leadership from the Morrison Government on this. Look, they're not going to be able to mandate that people have vaccines, but they should be able to give the confidence and guidance to business. It’s not just big businesses like Crown, but as you say Karl in many small businesses – 

STEFANOVIC: And indemnity.

EMERSON: Exactly right. Given that right, so a small business can go out there who can't afford the lawyers like Crown and go out and know what they can do in terms of their employees. That's where the leadership comes, and it should come from the Morrison Government - and Labor should also be backing that as well.

STEFANOVIC: All this while the UK moves further and further away from a vaccine passport. Strange, isn't it? It's different speeds for different countries right now, Bill.

SHORTEN: Well, I notice, I think Boris Johnson’s still keeping the digital information for people travelling in and out of the country. I mean, Boris Johnson doesn't have states. And the reality is that with our states, they're going to require some proof of vaccination to move around. I understand Western Australia is already looking for that proof when you come to Western Australia. So I just say to people, having some accessible digital information about whether or not you've been vaccinated will help you because at the end of the day, you can't carry around a piece of paper, it wears out in your wallet. They've invented the computer. So just putting some of this information online. I mean, let's just remember again that why we have vaccinations and why we want information you've been vaccinated, it's to stop the spread of it. Yeah, I mean, we've stopped smallpox at the last century and the century before we've stopped polio, we were on top of measles. We're on top of the mumps. This is in the same category. I just don't want people to die and I don't want the hospitals overwhelmed. So, this is all about making sure people actually get vaccinated.

STEFANOVIC: And as you and I always say Bill, no jab, no play.

SHORTEN: Crown's new advertising campaign.

STEFANOVIC: I circled back there, did you like that?

SHORTEN: Free advice, free advice… Free marketing too.

EMERSON: Genius. Genius.

SHORTEN: You ARE a genius. Wasted. Thank you, guys.