06 April 2021

SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s war of words with the Queensland Government; Australia’s vaccine rollout; AstraZeneca, Trans-Tasman travel bubble.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has launched an extraordinary attack on the Federal Government, claiming Scott Morrison is using COVID as a way to distract voters. To quote the Minister, he says it's an orchestrated campaign, one to try and stop the media talking about Brittany Higgins and rape and sexual harassment and all the things that have happened in Canberra. Boy, oh boy. For more, I’m joined by Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten in Melbourne and advertising executive Dee Madigan in Hobart. Bill, good morning to you. Do you agree? 

BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Oh listen, I think that the Morrison Government's embarrassed by its vaccine rollout, the time it's taking. I also think that they've spent a lot of time putting the boot into the Queensland Government and now the Queensland Government's returned fire, and they don't like it at the end of the day. Steven Miles has got a lot of truth in what he says, hasn't he? The Morrison Government has let the women of Australia down

STEFANOVIC: They called Steven Miles Palaszczuk’s pooch. Do you think that's becoming?

SHORTEN: Listen, I think that Mr Morrison's got a slogan. He's the champion of the blame game. But I think that Mr Miles has just got some truth in what he's saying, and the government doesn't like it.  

STEFANOVIC: Okay Dee, at the start of this pandemic fight, every level of government seemed united. It seems like almost every level of everything at the moment is not.

DEE MADIGAN: Yeah, look, I think that's true. And as Bill Shorten mentioned before, the Morrison Government has attacked the Palaszczuk Government all the way through. And Peter Dutton having another go on the weekend, it's like mate - read the room, look at the last Queensland election. They voted very firmly in favour of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s stance on things. But when the Morrison government has lost Gladys, you know, they are in a world of pain. 

STEFANOVIC: Okay moving on, Australia’s vaccine rollout is facing fresh delays this morning with The Australian revealing pharmacists won't start administering the jab until at least June. I mean, Bill, you’re Prime Minister this morning, how do you fix it? 

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, we have a problem in Australia. Bangladesh, Senegal and Rwanda have all vaccinated more of their people proportionately than in Australia. So, I think there's some basic common sense needed. One, let's involve the GPs of Australia in the delivery of it. Only 4600 GP businesses out of about 8600 are involved. Two, we've indemnified Big Pharma for the rollout. Why not indemnify the workers administering the rollout so that they can just get on and give the jab? Three, why don't we just add some money in and pay penalty rates to the workforce so that people are able to work weekends and after hours? And here's another good idea. If you're going to ask GPs to set up day clinics and for whatever reason they make a loss, just say we'll back you in for the cost of setting up day clinics. There you are, four point plan and we get on with it. 

STEFANOVIC: There you go, sounds good to me. Dee, you like that plan?  

MADIGAN: Look, I do. We have administered two percent of vaccines, I think America and that are sitting at 30 percent. So we've got two issues. One is securing vaccines - for all the announcements Scott Morrison made, and honestly, he made more announcements than there has been vaccines administered, we do not have enough here at the moment, which is why the Queensland Government and other governments are holding back, because people need two vaccines. There's no point giving them one if they can't guarantee the second one. And at the moment, there's no trust in the Federal Government to deliver that second one. And secondly, yeah, we should have GPs, we should have pharmacies and some mass vaccination centres like they've done in the other countries. To rely it all on GPs, it’s not fair on GPs, they're struggling under massive stress. They're getting patients ringing them up, wanting appointments when they don't know when they're even getting the vaccines.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, and here is a problem. Queensland has 60 state run vaccine clinics, yet not one was administered a single jab on Sunday. We're never going to get this back on track are we, if we're not administering what we've got. Bill?

SHORTEN: Well, it's very straightforward. Let's use the GPs. Let's make sure that people are indemnified for giving the jab, make sure they're appropriately trained. Let's actually open the wallet a bit and pay people for the weekend penalty rates so that they can go and work seven days a week. It is time to treat the vaccination as a national emergency. 

STEFANOVIC: I agree with that. 

SHORTEN: All hands on deck, Mr Morrison. Not a time for finger pointing. Let's just get it done, because otherwise people will never be able to travel. We'll have more of these sudden lockdowns. And if the rest of the world is vaccinating quicker than us, then maybe it's not the rest of the world's fault. Maybe we're not doing something right. 

STEFANOVIC: Devil's advocate for a second. This comes amid ongoing safety concerns surrounding AstraZeneca and that vaccine causing potential blood clots. So how much of an impact do you think this has on community confidence, Bill?  

SHORTEN: I think some people are concerned, but I've been having a look at the data over the weekend. Now, listen, I'll take the advice of the Therapeutic Goods Administration. They're the experts. But as I understand it, in the United Kingdom, there's been one complication for every 600,000 people. The European Medical Agency has made it clear that on the balance, you should have the vaccination because not vaccinating is a greater risk to your health than the vaccinations. So, like any medical procedure, if you’re for instance on the pill or something, or you're getting treatment for something, you watch out 4-10 days after the first vaccination. But doctors explain that. The problem of another outbreak, we are one super spreader event from a lot of people dying. That to me is the balance where we go. Listen to the experts. Let's back ourselves in. 

STEFANOVIC: Dee, are you happy to have the AstraZeneca vaccine?

MADIGAN: Yeah, look, my thing and my go to on that is, I asked my GP, I ask Kerryn Phelps. If they say, yes, I do it, if someone on Facebook who taps in caps says, oh, it's really dangerous, I’m less likely to listen to them.

STEFANOVIC: What's really interesting is that the that a GP told us about half an hour ago on the program, that the TGA is instructing doctors not to have a running dialogue on this and on the potential negatives of this vaccine, we're exploring that as a story. But if that's the case, that's interesting as well. Finally, the wait could almost be over for international travel with confirmation of a Trans-Tasman bubble expected later on today, the New Zealand Government moving towards it. Bill, it's been a long time coming. We can barely keep our state borders open. Are you confident in this process?  

SHORTEN: Well, we've got to make sure that - I mean, all roads lead back to vaccination, don't they? I’d be more confident if we were getting a proper rollout of vaccinations, but I think it's a good thing. But we've got to be careful that Kiwi culture doesn't submerge Australian culture, Karl, don't we? I mean, I'll never want to see my Esky called my chilly bin. I don't want my thongs being called my jandals. But other than that, I think we can take a few visitors. 

MADIGAN: I feel like I'm dressed to welcome them already. I've got the flanny on, I say hey bro. Hey bro. Welcome. 

ALLY LANGDON, HOST: (off camera) You may not be invited.

SHORTEN: You speak good Kiwi

MADIGAN: I'm married to a Kiwi. 

SHORTEN: There you go.  You like the subtitles. 

STEFANOVIC: Are you? Well that was your first mistake. Leila’s part Kiwi, part Iranian part something else. Thank you guys. Have a great day. Kia ora, to of our Kiwi viewers watching.

SHORTEN: Kia ora.

STEFANOVIC: Fantastic to get some sort of travel opened up wouldn't it, it's a long time coming. Thank you, guys. Talk to you soon.