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25 May 2021

TUESDAY, 25 MAY 2021
SUBJECTS: Melbourne’s new COVID cases; Australia’s vaccination rollout; Joel Fitzgibbon’s comments; critiquing with humour; vaccine campaigns.

ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: Thanks for joining us this morning. Melbourne is waking to another major COVID alert after four members of one family spread across three households tested positive in the city's north. Contact tracers are now working overtime. Thousands have been forced into isolation and fears once again of a dreaded lockdown. Joining us both – well, not from Melbourne, we've got Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten, he’s in Canberra and 3AW’s Neil Mitchell in Melbourne. Nice to speak to both of you this morning. Neil, you are there on the ground. Can you just sum up for us how the city's feeling right now?

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: I think we're edgy and I think understandably so. It's just about a year ago, we headed into what was a hellish time in Victoria. And of course, people are nervous. A lot of people are going to be tested already. There's talk of a super spreader. If that's right, well, we're all in some trouble. I do believe that the Government yesterday went very close to introducing some form of restrictions, they might have just been in certain suburbs, but at the last minute, they decided not to, and they wait and see. If things develop badly, God willing they don't, but if they develop badly over the next few days, I don't have any doubt we’ll go into some form of restrictions, full on lockdown, don't know, but some form of restrictions unless they get on top of it quickly.

LANGDON: Yeah, I mean, Bill, just looking at it, this list, I mean, there are so many exposure sites. Do you think the issues of the past have been fixed?

BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Well, I certainly hope so. One of the exposure sites, Highpoint, is in the same postcode that I live in. So, my reaction was, oh, not again. We're just getting businesses coming out of it. Schools are back. And for our kids and for our small businesses, I hope we're on top of it. We'll have to wait and see in coming days, won't we? But I would just say, can people please go and get their vaccination? If you're over 50, go and get your vaccination. And also, I don't know why we haven't done it, but why can't we just get anyone who wants to get vaccinated, even if they're under 50, to be able to go and get a vaccination? The quicker we can get this done, at least these closures mightn't be quite as catastrophic if they loom.

LANGDON: Yeah, I mean, Neil we've got the supply now. Do you think we're going to see long lines for vaccination today and in the coming weeks?

MITCHELL: I think we'll see an increase, and that's probably is a good thing, we'll come out of the scare here in Victoria. Victoria's been leading the way with vaccination because we've been through it. We know what it can be. I think we'll get a line of people today. Strangely, I've booked in myself to be vaccinated today and I want an afternoon appointment and there are only three available at one of the major hubs, so that's a good sign. Maybe people are starting to go out and do it. And I agree with Bill. Let's just get it done. The sooner the better.

LANGDON: Is that a good point? That that is making them feel that tried to get in this afternoon and there are so few appointments available?

SHORTEN: Well, that's a development. I went to the showgrounds early last week and you could have fired a cannon through the place and not hit anyone. So, the staff are there. I like the idea of the big major vaccination hubs. I think some of the research is showing that even for people over 50, it's not so much hesitancy about AstraZeneca. It's just that they're not sure about their eligibility. They're not sure where to go. And again, to me it's beyond belief. But if we need to get our numbers up, why not just let people under 50 go and get vaccinated? For goodness sake, let's just get this done.

LANGDON: Well, Bill let's talk about your tweet yesterday, taking a bit of a dig at the Prime Minister. I think we've got it here. Morrison nailing the vaccine rollout. You've written that. Neil, I mean, Bill, is it a bit mean?

SHORTEN: Come on, if we can't have a laugh anymore. I mean, normally everyone hates Question Time and politics because everyone's being mean. Humour’s not illegal. And let's face it, the rollout and the instructions to Australians about how do they get AstraZeneca, or do they get Pfizer, or do they wait, or do they go? And what's the tiered category? 

MITCHELL: Oh, come on, Bill.

SHORTEN: Oh, come on, Neil, you've got a sense of humour. You’re renowned for it.

MITCHELL: Can't we all be on the same side? Can't we all be on the same side for a change, Bill, can't you stop the sniping? We're in the middle of a bloody pandemic. 

SHORTEN: Oh, come on, Neil.

MITCHELL: We're in the middle of something critical to this country. And you're both doing it. You and Scomo and everybody else, you’re at each other, work for us together. We'd like to head on this together. And none of the smart sniping around the edges

SHORTEN: On the first. First of all, of course, we're all working together. But the other thing is you're allowed to actually - you don't have to become the three wise monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, talk no evil. I mean, if you think that the vaccine rollout is going well, why we've got so few people doing it? You and I were just agreeing. And why not use a bit of humour? Laughter is not illegal anymore in this country. Or have we all gone so woke, we can't even, you know, call out the Emperor's new clothes.

LANGDON: It's the woke police this morning. Bill, when I read that and thought, you know what? He's trying to divert attention away from the problems within your own party, with Joel Fitzgibbon dropping a few bombs and threatening to quit. 


LANGDON: I mean, is there something in that?

MITCHELL: That is funny. That is funny.

SHORTEN: Did you not laugh at the tweet, though, Ally?

LANGDON: Oh, look, I had a bit of a giggle. 

SHORTEN: Okay there you go, good.

LANGDON: I wasn't as outraged as Neil, but Neil is potentially facing another lockdown. So, you know…

SHORTEN: We all are. Listen in terms of there was a byelection at the state level up in the Upper Hunter in New South Wales, the state election. I don't know, like, Joel's frustrated that Labor didn't do well, but I'm not sure it's the - you know, you've got to take note of it, but I'm not sure it's the end of the world.

LANGDON: Is he going to get kicked out of the party?

MITCHELL: Oh, Bill….

SHORTEN: Go on Neil, I don't want to interrupt you, off you go.

LANGDON: Go, Neil.

MITCHELL: No, she's just put on the spot there. Is he going to get kicked out of the party, are you going to oppose tax cuts, and will you run as leader again? All of them, all of them, Bill. All three.

SHORTEN: I should go on your show and deal with all those questions.

LANGDON: You can answer all of those. Thank you, Bill. Let's go.

SHORTEN: Well, let's deal with them - no, I'm not running for leader. 

MITCHELL: Ever? Ever?

SHORTEN: In terms of tax cuts, Labor will have a position all in good time.

MITCHELL: Ever? Ever?

SHORTEN: And in terms of Joel, I think it should be fixed. I don't think he should leave the Labor Party. I think that it'd be better if these issues were being sorted out in-house, division doesn't look good. On the other hand, some of the people trying to goad him to leave, they should probably pull their heads in too.

LANGDON: All right. Let's get back to one of those things. We’re all in this together - 

MITCHELL: Never ever, Bill?

LANGDON: Okay, I don’t like it when we get nasty guys.

MITCHELL: Never, ever, ever?

SHORTEN: Oh, Neil…

MITCHELL: I want an answer. Would you ever run again as leader?

SHORTEN: I can't see any set of circumstances, but I've still got a lot to contribute. And that's why I'm going to keep doing. You can be you can be a leader without being the leader.

MITCHELL: There's an open door.

LANGDON: He’s fired up this morning. I’m just going to sit back, put my legs up, cross my arms.

SHORTEN: This is the Karl and Ally Today Show, not the Neil Mitchell show.

LANGDON: Hey, I do want to talk about this, right. 

MITCHELL: I thought you wanted a laugh Bill, I thought you wanted a laugh? 

STEFANOVIC: We’ll give you a laugh.

SHORTEN: I am, it's good. 

LANGDON: I want to give you a laugh, OK? That's what you both want this morning. We've talked about vaccine hesitancy. Check this out. Look what China's doing. This is to encourage everyone to get the jab. I love this. [CHINA VIDEO PACKAGE] Are you both moving? What do you reckon? Do we need a bit of a campaign like that?

SHORTEN: Just as long as it's not too funny [all laugh].

LANGDON: Kyle reckons you two are like the Muppets this morning. 

STEFANOVIC: I love it.

SHORTEN: Oh yeah, what were their names? Waldorf and Statler.

STEFANOVIC: That’s it. Unmissable.

LANGDON: Hey, guys. Thinking about Melbourne though this morning, Neil, hopefully the numbers are good today and we've got a bit of positive news coming out of it. We're thinking of everyone in Melbourne this morning. Thanks for joining us, gents.

SHORTEN: See you guys. 

LANGDON: All rightie.

STEFANOVIC: That was good TV.

LANGDON: That was fun. I don’t really know what happened. 

STEFANOVIC: That was a lot of fun. I like that a lot.