WEDNESDAY, 23 JUNE 2021
SUBJECTS: Queensland family’s desperate plea for compassion; NSW COVID cluster grows amid border closures; how to combat vaccine hesitancy; the return of Barnaby Joyce.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the program. Well, he's a dying man who just wants to hug his son in his final days, but that lost dignity has been denied by Queensland Health authorities, forcing Mark Kilian and his wife, Anneli, who are fully vaccinated, to remain trapped in hotel quarantine. This was the appeal yesterday from Frans Kilian, from his hospital bed.
FRANS KILIAN: Every day they are in that hotel is a day less that I have with my son and daughter in law in my last days. Please, Queensland Health - show some compassion and help an old man and his son before it's too late. By all accounts, there is no danger to the Queensland community. I'm asking you, begging you actually, to let my son and his wife leave their quarantine to come here to be with me. It is my dying wish. Please.
STEFANOVIC: It's utterly heartbreaking, isn't it? And it's time for this family's agony to end. Please let humanity prevail here. The rules designed to protect us should never really outweigh our ability to show compassion, surely. So, let's try and stop this and allow dad to hug his son for one last time. Joining me now is the Shadow Minister for Government Services, Bill Shorten, and Stella Magazine’s Sarrah Le Marquand. Sarrah, good morning to you. Bill, good morning to you. There are rules and those rules are important, but we have to show some compassion, don’t we?
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Yes, we do. I was thinking as I was watching Frans with his appeal, my mum died in her sleep suddenly. So, my brother and I never got to say goodbye to her. So, if I could turn back the clock, I would just like to tell my mum how much I loved her. So, when I see this family who are in this experience, there must be a way to facilitate them saying goodbye. It's been terrible, COVID. In Melbourne we had people who had their weddings cancelled. People couldn't go to funerals, which is very heartbreaking. And I know that the Queensland and federal officials are in a bit of a no-win situation because if you say yes to this, then where do you draw the line? But on the other hand, common sense is common sense. And I just want someone to be able to say goodbye to their parent, I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through.
STEFANOVIC:Mate, I'm sorry for your loss and sorry for what you went through. We have a situation here, too, where the son is fully vaccinated. We must have faith in that, don’t we? I know that you can still carry it and transmit it but he is fully vaccinated. And you're talking about PPE gear as well. We either have faith in those things and try and open up to getting back to normalcy and being able to show compassion, to say goodbye to loved ones, or what are we doing?
SHORTEN: Yeah, I agree. And we as a country, we are surely smart enough to put them in a special transport van. And, you know, the technical experts could come up with a solution. We've got to make a threshold call here. And I think for everyone who's been through COVID, rather than worrying about how everyone else will react to had to put up with hardship, I and I reckon at least five million Melburnians would say give them a chance to say goodbye.
STEFANOVIC:Annastacia Palaszczuk came out yesterday and said hotel quarantine Sarrah, is a federal responsibility. She seems to be working towards softening that stance. And hopefully today we'll see some sort of light at the end of that tunnel. What do you make of it all?
SARRAH LE MARQUAND, STELLA MAGAZINE: I think we will see her intervene today. There's always a way. This is been a really difficult time, needless to say. And as Bill's just made the point, there obviously have been a lot of Australians who have been denied opportunities to say goodbye and all other sorts of personal hardships, but that can't become the benchmark. I've said it several times on this show. Just in the last two weeks, we've had this national conversation about weighing up our conscience versus the so-called accusation that all you've changed the rules, you’re opening the borders for everyone. At the end of this, where's our soul as a country and at what price are we prepared to pay as a compassionate and caring community? I think most people would be on the side to grant this dying man his final wish.
STEFANOVIC: It's my understanding the Queensland Premier is working very hard even as we go to air this morning. I think she's written to, or someone in the Queensland Government has written to the federal health counterparts, to try and facilitate this. There is some hoops to jump through, there is no doubt about that. But hopefully that will be facilitated today. Looks like she's onto it. Anyway, the issue of borders is front and centre, isn't it, for Sydney's COVID alert this morning. Victoria has slammed the door shut to seven zones from the city, while the Trans-Tasman bubble with New South Wales has also been temporarily burst. Bill, this is a big call just to have the school holidays, huh?
SHORTEN: Yeah, there's no good time to deal with COVID, but all I could encourage in the public debate is go hard, go early to deal with COVID, because if you don't deal with it this week, you'll be dealing with more and more next week and the following week. It does make me wish, though, that, you know, what we've said on this show really for more than a year is, where's the federal quarantine facilities? I mean, our hotels, this is the 24th outbreak is it, from a hotel? These hotels weren't built to be medical facilities. And it seems to me we need purpose-built facilities to try and stop these outbreaks. The other thing, of course, is vaccination. You know, Australia's vaccination rate is incredibly low. And I'm worried that one of the reasons why it's low is that we don't have enough of the Pfizer vaccine. Last year, Labor said to the Federal Government, hey, tie up deals with more than just Pfizer and AstraZeneca. You need five or six deals. I just wish we had done that.
STEFANOVIC: Ok, Sarrah, there was a story in the SMH a couple of days ago suggesting that the anti-vaxxers were targeting women, especially women who are trying to become pregnant. There's a lot of that stuff floating about, isn't there? And the end result of that is that a lot of women are not going to get vaccinated. How do we turn that around?
LE MARQUAND: We have got to remind people to weigh up the reality of the situation. There's also a lot of older Australians that are very scared, people that went through the AstraZeneca vaccine and are reluctant to have the second one. You've got to look at the stats. You've got to listen to the experts. The biggest danger is actually contracting COVID. If you're an older Australian, that is actually the risk, that is going to be posing the most immediate risk to your health. Look, we've talked about the politics endlessly. Bill obviously has taken an opportunity to take a swipe at the Government and their vaccination rollout and Pfizer.
SHORTEN: It is true though.
LE MARQUAND: And we can talk about the files in a hotel quarantine and whether the states are reacting in a knee jerk reaction, whether Victoria has to stop this nonsense of just slamming the border shut. We can talk about all of that. But ultimately, I would just talk to my fellow Australians and say we can actually own this. Our national vaccination rate is deplorable. And yes, there's been supply issues, but for a lot of people, they can get access and they're choosing not to. We can't be ruled by fear, Karl. Whether you're a young woman contemplating pregnancy, whether you're an older Australian, it doesn't matter the stats, the science is on the side of vaccination.
STEFANOVIC: I agree with you 100 per cent, a year ago, I said there was hesitancy, right? It's worse now.
LE MARQUAND: It is.
STEFANOVIC: It's worse now, as we as we're trying to get closer to some sort of resolution. I want to finish on this though if we can Bill, because running out of time. It was a big day in Canberra yesterday. Big Barnaby Joyce, with his big hat and cattle rolled into Parliament, first being sworn in as Deputy PM, then later facing an explosive time in Parliament.
BARNABY JOYCE: I think I'm looking at someone here who might be under a little bit of pressure himself, a little bit of pressure himself. I am this man's biggest backer. I want you to be there for the long haul. We stand by our coal miners. We stand by the iron ore miners. We stand by our farmers. We are not ashamed of our live cattle producers.
STEFANOVIC: That was Labor's chances at the next election going up in flames right into the atmosphere Bill.
SHORTEN: Well, it’d be a bit a bit early to put down the binoculars on the next election and declare the race won. Listen, I'm not going to go into Barnaby's personality. I think what most Australians are saying there, they go again, having an argument amongst themselves, who's in charge, squabbling over the positions. Yet we're dealing with COVID. We're dealing with cost of living, job security. Will the kids be able to get a home? So, I just think that Barnaby, his return is going to make politics perhaps more colourful. But whether or not it produces more outcomes, I'm a bit more sceptical.
STEFANOVIC: You watch him yesterday in his Lazarus-like return to the top job bill, rescuing his party and saving the Coalition. Did you look upon that and get thinking yourself?
SHORTEN: No. What I thought, what I thought is -
LE MARQUAND: Oh, sure you did.
SHORTEN: No, do you know what I thought? I thought of someone sent me a meme and it was about Sideshow Bob, out of The Simpsons. And I thought the circus of Question Time, you know, Grade 6’s would be watching that and saying, well, mum and dad wouldn't let us behave like this.
STEFANOVIC: Come on, Bill, you've got to give the people what they want.
LE MARQUAND: I would have thought there'd be someone on the panel this morning that was very enthused at the prospect of a successful political comeback. And speaking of feisty Question Time, I took note that Barnaby Joyce, I believe he characterised Anthony Albanese as the preamble and yourself, Mr Bill Shorten, as the outcome. Any thoughts on that?
SHORTEN: I'm amazed you watch Question Time Sarrah, but good on ya.
STEFANOVIC: I watched it too!
LE MARQUAND: Nice dodge, though.
SHORTEN: I’m amazed you watch it. No listen, just because the National Party’s had their turmoil, I think Labor's focused on trying to present an alternative set of policies for the next election. The eyes are on the prize, that’s the game in town
STEFANOVIC: Bill you’re not answering, it’s not like you to not answer a straight question,
SHORTEN: But seriously, at least Barnaby peppered Question Time a bit, I'll give him that. There was you know, and poor old Scotty Morrison's beaming in by video. It was all a bit surreal yesterday.
STEFANOVIC: All right good to talk to you. We’ll save it for next week
SHORTEN: See you guys.
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