TUESDAY, 18 MAY 2021
SUBJECTS: A potential two-tier Australia on vaccines; Morrison Government failure to vaccinate people with disabilities; ceremonial knife usage in schools; Torah Bright’s Instagram.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: You are watching Today, thanks for your company. Could Australia be heading towards a two-tier country? The vaccinated enjoying freedom to travel and avoid restrictions and everyone else facing a more restricted lifestyle. Tough to police. That could be our future, though, as the PM lays out his roadmap out of the pandemic. Let's discuss with Shadow Minister of Government Services Bill Shorten in Melbourne. Bill, good morning to you.
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Good morning.
STEFANOVIC: And from 2GB, Chris Smith here in the studio. Chris, good morning, nice to see you. Bill, two-tier Australia, is that where we're heading?
SHORTEN: I think so. I mean, I wish the Government would be clear about what our vaccination goals are, I think Gladys is probably showing more leadership than Scott at this point. I know in America they're grappling with the same issues. But at the end of the day, I would just say that people who are weighing up getting vaccinated, you know, we all want to go on a vacation sooner or later. And if not for you, why don't you get the jab for your grandma or grandpa to keep them safe?
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, and it's even just opening the borders is a difficult thing anyway, but right now it seems to be more difficult. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said a number of five million residents vaccinated before deciding on international travel. Do you think Aussies want it though Bill, or are they happy to remain here with the borders semi shut down?
SHORTEN: Listen, I think that there's a proportion of people who aren't necessarily anti-vaxxer, but who don't think they're going to get COVID or they're young and they don't think that COVID will make them very sick. So, in other words, they haven't seen the case, they've seen the debate about the quality of the vaccine, the AstraZeneca. So, I think that there's a bit of an education campaign still to be done. But sooner or later, we're going to have to say to Australians, well, if you want to travel overseas, if you want to open up, you don't necessarily have the luxury of just saying you don't need the jab.
STEFANOVIC: A lot of people and most Australians don't have the luxury of going overseas either. And so, for them, it's like, well, why bother opening them up?
CHRIS SMITH, 2GB: There are so many people that are not invested in that international connection. You know, they don't have skin in the game either in a business sense or even in a travel sense, you know. But having said that, I just get the feeling that the Prime Minister might be using this particular point. That is, we're fearful of what may happen. We'll wait until we have an election. Like it's echoes of Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mark McGowan. I'm sorry. And it's wrong.
STEFANOVIC: Bill, is he doing that?
SHORTEN: Ah, yeah, I think so. I think Chris is right
SMITH: Of course, he is.
STEFANOVIC: So, how are you going to combat it?
SHORTEN: Well, I think, first of all, I was amazed in the federal budget when they didn't have more federal quarantine facilities, like when are we going to get the message? When can we get the message through to the current Federal Government, quarantine’s not just a state responsibility? If he says he wants to get us back to what was somewhere near the old normal, then we're going to need to be better at coping with the COVID when it pops its head up. And federal quarantine facilities, I think will help decrease the risk to all Australians.
STEFANOVIC: Well he’s supporting that one in Melbourne, but not the one in Queensland the Wagner’s are trying to build. That's an odd discrepancy.
STEFANOVIC: What do you think, Chris?
SMITH: Well, it's just that the plans for the Wagner model were very basic. That's all. Apparently, the description is here's the aerial view of what we're going to build, but nothing of the detail that's been presented by the Victorians.
STEFANOVIC: You know, the argument is, oh, it's two hours out of Brisbane by bus that people have got to get off here and go there.
STEFANOVIC: Well, just build it. I don't have a problem with it.
SMITH: You know what's going to happen. We're going to build these facilities, though. And I'm telling you right now, we're going to have problems with leakage from these facilities as well. Sometimes you've got to be respectful of what you've got and the way we control small clusters, and not look at the next step. I don’t know.
STEFANOVIC: One thing that we're not respectful of this morning, and most Australians are concerned about this. Out of Victoria, the families of thousands, literally thousands of disabled Australians, saying they're at the back of the queue for vaccines while athletes and politicians are given priority treatment. Bill, I think it's at four per cent, the number of disabled, it's four per cent. That's a disgrace.
SHORTEN: Greg Hunt, the Health Minister, popped his head up yesterday and conceded under questioning that less than 1000 people who are profoundly disabled have had the jab in the last three months. Now we've got to remember, for people who are profoundly disabled, they've got reduced immunities. For these people, they can't even leave their home. During the COVID lockdown, they had carers not turn up. So COVID has not ended for people who are extremely vulnerable to COVID. And the fact that so few disabled people, people with disabilities, have received the job, I think is an appalling reflection on the poor priorities of the current Government.
STEFANOVIC: Agree with that. Let's move on. A big debate in Sydney over whether Sikh children should still be allowed to carry religious daggers after a child was stabbed at school. Chris, a difficult one this, school safety versus religious freedom. And it's a hard one. But some decisions need to be made.
SMITH: I don't think it's hard and it's not 1621. It is 2021. It is Australia. It is modern day. You don't put knives in the hands of immature human beings
STEFANOVIC: I’m sympathetic to religious beliefs. But -
SMITH: Oh, yeah, no, seriously. What sort of backward religious belief is this in the modern day? It's dangerous. Dangerous.
SHORTEN: Chris, sorry. Listen, I think as a general rule, I see what you're saying, but I'd be careful about saying the Sikhs have got a backward religious belief. I mean, they wear turbans. This is not a new issue, believe it or not. It rears its head. And in fact, the Parliaments of this country have periodically dealt with this. The Victoria Police, for instance, acknowledged the kirpan is a ceremonial device. It's not a weapon. Now, you've got this unfortunate incident. Listen, I think it's not an easy issue, but I think we've got to be careful about because it's a different religion to what we're used to, just simply saying it’s backward.
SMITH: But the law of the land have to supersede any religious -
SHORTEN: Of course, they do. But I make this point. The laws of the land have already acknowledged this is a bit of an exception. So, we’ve grappled with it. But anyway…
SMITH: Not for kids, though.
STEFANOVIC: So overseas, for example, they have knives that you can't actually take out.
SHORTEN: That's right.
STEFANOVIC: I think there are ways probably around it. As far as for backward religions, most of them are kind of…
SMITH: Of no, I didn't say backward religions. I said this is a part of – this is a backward essence of a religion. You don’t
STEFANOVIC: I’m going to leave you with all that.
SMITH: You don't get kids in the hands of knives. It's stupid. That's dangerous.
SHORTEN: Of course, you don't. But you've got to say that we can deal with this, like, let's just get a commonsense solution.
STEFANOVIC: Ok, let's finish with this one, because I can't wait to hear what us three middle aged guys have a view of in terms of this photo, which I think is sensational. Aussie Olympian, Torah Bright, breastfeeding upside down while meditating. Bill, you're up first.
SHORTEN: Thanks. [all laugh]. Oh, well, I always want to have a say. Listen, as a handstand, I reckon it's nine and a half out of ten. This pose has been taken before on social media. And yoga is obviously good for recovering for mums who have had kids. But a little bit of me wonders, does that put a bit of pressure on other mums who might not necessarily be as fit?
SMITH: Dextrous. It's as odd as I've ever seen. That's all I'll say. Each to their own. That's fine. She said this is a one off. She said that this is only for the photographic opportunity. That's where I'll leave it right here.
STEFANOVIC: Power to her.
SMITH: Power to her!
SHORTEN: Good on her.
ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: You blokes are just jealous that you can't multiskill, aren’t you?
SMITH: That’s true.
LANGDON: You couldn’t do one of those things.
SHORTEN: I am.
STEFANOVIC: I’d love to be able to breastfeed.
LANGDON: Oh, don't go there….
SHORTEN: I’d love to be able to handstand.
STEFANOVIC: No, I wouldn't. No, I would not. Good on you guys, thank you.