TUESDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Australia set to re-open for international travel; Morrison Government implodes with in-fighting; ADF stepping in to assist in aged care; ‘Neighbours’ set to end.
ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: Well, mark the date February 21, just two weeks from now, when Australia finally reopens to the world and it's hard to believe on that date, it will have been 703 days since our borders were first slammed shut. It has been a long, long winter. Let's discuss with Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and Triple M's Gus Worland, nice to see you both this morning. Bill, you beauty, hey? You must be applauding the Prime Minister this morning.
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Well, I'm pleased that the borders will reopen. Melbourne Airport is in my electorate and for all the airline people who've been without work, I'm pleased that there'll be more flights. No, it’ll be good to have people coming back to Melbourne. Of course, we'll have to make sure the Border Force checks their vaccination status. But you know, thumbs up, good development, I'm really pleased for all the businesses and all the people who've done it so hard for 700 days without international visitors.
LANGDON: Yeah. And look nowhere more Bill than your hometown of Melbourne. Is this what it needs, you know, to save the city? And how long is it going to take to lure people back?
SHORTEN: I think it's going to take a little while to bring people back into the city, but you absolutely realise how important tourists and international visitors are to cities not just, you know, the Barrier Reef or Sydney climbing the Harbour Bridge, but Melbourne. Melbourne's an international city. It's great news and I really hope for the shopkeepers in Melbourne CBD and all the aviation people in my electorate this is - yeah, it's all upside. I'm positive about this gas.
LANGDON: It's been interesting to read tourism bosses warning we may never recover it from this tarnished image we've got of what they call Fortress Australia, that we've actually been ridiculed for it overseas. Do you reckon that's the case, has the world been laughing at us?
GUS WORLAND, TRIPLE M: No, I don't think so. I think everyone's been going through a lot and you can never say never. And I think we'll have pretty short memories once we get back to normal. Everyone's starting to come and everyone's, you know, getting their savings ready to go to that big dream trip to Australia, it'll all be forgotten. So don't worry about that. I think the world is slowly but surely getting there. And how exciting is that? I mean, Melbourne's obviously struggled, but so has Sydney. You know, it's a ghost town, the city at the moment. So just to get people back again, flocking to the tourist spots will be great. It's what we need. It’s what all big cities need.
LANGDON: Hey, Bill, what do you make of everyone coming in has to be double vaxxed? What do you think about that? When for us to be fully vaxxed, they're now saying is going to probably include a booster?
SHORTEN: Well, maybe the standard will move to boosters in the future for visitors, but double vaxxed is a very strong start. You know, we had that experience with Novak Djokovic and we've just got to be, you know, one rule for everyone, double vaxxed, big start. I hope that the rest of the world moves to encouraging boosters, though, that's what we've got to go. But this is a good start.
LANGDON: Yeah. Hey, Bill, have you got your popcorn ready for today, Parliament resuming?
SHORTEN: Oh, my goodness, the Federal Government. You know, they're running out of puff. There's only two more weeks of Parliament, but they've just got to settle their internal fighting. People have to be convinced about the merits of politics on a good day. But this Government is hopelessly divided, and we've got the aged care crisis, we've got people with disability risking COVID. I think the nation wants us to focus on the people, not on our own games and ins and outs.
LANGDON: I love that you're giving the Prime Minister advice this morning, Bill.
SHORTEN: Oh, well, I could give him some more advice.
LANGDON: You’re just trying to help, aren't you?
SHORTEN: Yeah, that's right. Poor old Labor. We've just got to clean up Mr Morrison's mess. You know, like the like. It's like the Morrison Government's a circus and we're like the sweepers at the end, cleaning up all the mess that the Government leaves.
LANGDON: That's a visual for you, Gus.
WORLAND: I'm sure. I'm sure Bill, you'd love to give him a bit more advice than you've given him already this morning. But to be honest with you -
LANGDON: Maybe send him a text?
SHORTEN: Yeah, yes. I wonder if we do Question Time by text, you know, just put up the text in Question Time.
LANGDON: Yeah. Hey, guess what do you reckon, though? Do you reckon that the Prime Minister can reset the agenda this week after? I mean, there have been so many distractions. And do people really care about our politicians or seeming to hate each other?
WORLAND: No, I think most of us probably think that it's like a workplace. You like certain people, and you sort of put up with others and you’re professional around people that you don't necessarily want to go and have a beer with or share time where they'll be friends with. So, it's just embarrassing for me. And, you know, no disrespect to Bill, but a lot of politicians at the moment are looked upon, I think, by Australia, as you know, just get on with the job of looking after us. All this other infighting. It's just sounds like your high school kids, and it's just not good enough. Like at the end of the day, if we really, really strip it down, you're running our country, you're running our lives, you know, and we've just got to be better at it. And I imagine Mr Morrison is going to find it very hard to hold on to power even within his own party, let alone what's going to happen in the in the big Fed election. So yeah, it's an embarrassing time for us at the moment. Canberra's been looked at as a bit of a joke.
LANGDON: Yeah. And look, I mean, I don't think it's from a lack of trying by the Prime Minister he'd love to shift the attention away from the scandals. It's going to be a tricky week for him, as you know, Bill, you have MPs threatening to cross the floor and a whole range of issues. And it kind of overshadows some big announcements that we have heard over the past week. Bill, what do you make of the 1700 Defence Force personnel coming in to help in aged care?
SHORTEN: Well, that's good of them to turn up, but it's not a long-term solution. So, I, you know, I think our ADF do a great job and Labor certainly said well before this announcement, this should be contemplated. But when you think that we've got 300,000 plus people in residential care and we hear the horrible stories of a nurse and a couple of you know, support workers having to look after 120 people on a night shift. This is a stopgap using the ADF. We need fundamental reform of aged care, and these issues aren't new. I mean, but what are we doing about ratios? What are we doing about wages? What are we doing about training the staff, just relying on the army to put out every fire, it's not a long-term solution that Mr Morrison's offering.
LANGDON: Your thoughts on that because I think in January had something like 30 percent of the workforce were off. We heard the story about one Queensland aged care home with there's one nurse per 172 residents. So, when you hear 1700 Defence Force personnel coming in, does that sound like enough?
WORLAND: Yeah, look, look, it sounds like it's something, you know? And if he wasn't doing it, would we be saying they've got to do something? So, at the end of the day, nothing is perfect and these tougher times that they're trying to deal with unprecedented, aren't they? So, they're doing their best, it’s stopgap, of course, but it's got to go back to the actual reason why we've got this problem in the first place. You know, we haven't looked after it in the past, and we've got to make sure that doesn't happen moving forward. But at least it's something.
LANGDON: Yeah. Hey, look just quickly too. Can you believe it? [Neighbours theme plays]Come on, Gus. Take it away.
WORLAND: [sings] Goods friends.
SHORTEN: Oh, boy. Silver tonsils, golden tonsils. [All laugh]
LANGDON: So devastated, no doubt that after 37 years, one of our greatest exports, Neighbours could be coming to an end. That's what we think anyway. Channel 5 in the U.K. announcing it's going to be ditching the show bill. I mean, so many Aussie classic soaps over the years. Tell me, do you have a guilty pleasure that you can admit to on national TV?
SHORTEN: Oh, well, listen, I used to like The Young Doctors. I'd come home…. I feel silly just saying that. But anyway.
LANGDON: The Flying Doctors?
SHORTEN: Yeah! Flying Doctors.
LANGDON: Yeah of course, Rebecca Gibney was in that, Liz Burch, I don't know who else was on the show.
SHORTEN: Maury Fields, he used to run the Majestic.
LANGDON: Hey Gus, time for you to fess up. What did you watch growing up?
WORLAND: I mean, I loved them all but A Country Practice was my favourite, and what happened was I used to love Georgie Parker, you know, because she was only a few years older than me. I just adored her, and you won't believe this, as the world becomes a smaller place every day, my brother ended up marrying Georgie. So, when we first had that sort of meal together, my wife and I and Georgie and Steve I'm just like sitting there, and I had to tell her that story. But yeah, she's an absolute ripper. Georgie, she's another Sagittarian like me, and we just like, we're great mates now. I think she loves me more than she loves my brother, to be absolutely honest. But that's a chat for another day.
LANGDON: So, let's just unpack that just a little bit before you go, Gus. Like, did you have like posters on your wall kind of thing?
WORLAND: Yeah. Yeah, and great dreams and all sorts of thoughts. Absolutely.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: That's so Australian.
LANGDON: That’s such an awkward family barbecue.
WORLAND: See you everyone, bye!
SHORTEN: It’s going to be an awkward breakfast.
LANGDON: I'm just going to leave the nation with that thought in their head. Thank you, Gus. And I mean it. Thank you. Nice to see you, Bill.