SUBJECT: Scott Morrison bungling the vaccine rollout.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me now is Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles. Good morning, chaps nice to see you, Simon you’re first up, what is our magical vaccination freedom number?
SENATOR SIMON BIRMINGHAM, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: So Karl, the modelling work, particularly with the Delta variant is still being done, there was some work done around the Alpha variant –
STEFANOVIC: It’s a buzz kill Simon.
BIRMINGHAM: But, Karl, what we want is to give Australians the certainty as they are embracing the vaccine rollout in record numbers, a record number – more than 160,000 people had a dose yesterday. That’s got us to more than 7.8 million doses, more than 70% – around 70% of the over 70s. More than 50% of the over 50s. Around 30% of everybody over 16 are having their doses and that number keeps growing each day. And we want them to know that as they do that there is an endpoint which is going to see those freedoms return and that all that work is happening. We want to get the states and territories on board with it.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, Richard, I know that you’re sitting there, scoffing at Simon Birmingham because he failed to come up with a number, but you would have a number, wouldn’t you, Labor?
RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: We don’t have – we’re not in government. We’re not the ones being given the advice. But I’ll tell you what the number is Karl, right now we’re at about 6% of the population being vaccinated and we are stone motherless last on the OECD table. And that’s because this Prime Minister said there wasn’t a race, and in fact, there is a race. There’s a race against the virus and we do need to have a target. It’s taken this long for the Prime Minister to work out that we actually need to get there. But most of all, we need to get the vaccine rollout happening, so that is on Scott Morrison.
STEFANOVIC: Bill Shorten 15 minutes ago on this show said between 70 and 80%. Bill said it. Simon it’s in all the papers today, you’re going to do a deal on this in terms of vaccinations and that number. Is that true? Or is that just made up fake news?
BIRMINGHAM: Well, of course, I’ll take my advice from Dr. Bill Shorten.
STEFANOVIC: At least he’s gutsy enough to put a number out there.
BIRMINGHAM: And he’s just plucked it out of the air, has he?
STEFANOVIC: No, no, he’s got that from medical advice.
BIRMINGHAM: Well I’m not sure which medico he’s talked to. But you know, what we’ll do is sit down with the nation’s health leaders as we’ve done in every step of this pandemic. As I said that work has been done previously around the Alpha variant. The Delta variant changes these things. And so we’ve got to sit down, do that work again, and make sure that we give Australians the confidence that when we take those steps to reopen, which will be when all Australians have had a chance to be vaccinated. And contrary to the type of misleading statistics there that Richard’s trying to peddle, we’ve got vast numbers of Australians now who are embracing the vaccine rollout. And the negativity coming from the Opposition and some other parts of the country is quite shameful. We should be continuing to encourage Australians. Around 30% of the entire eligible over 16 population has had a jab. And of those who have been eligible the longest – the over 70s – around 70% of them have had a jab. So we can see that we can push those cohorts into those very high numbers. And that’s going to give us back the freedoms.
STEFANOVIC: For the Australian people there are some things that don’t add up. But let’s turn to the roll out with major concerns this morning about unvaccinated frontline workers in two states, a receptionist outside a Brisbane COVID Ward testing positive and two Sydney nurses exposing wards and aged care to the virus. All three unvaccinated. And this is what former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told me on the show yesterday about mandatory vaccination Take a look.
COATSWORTH: Karl I’ve always been an advocate of voluntary vaccination and I remain so. I think it would be very legitimate for any administrator if there was an outbreak in their facility, you know, we have alternative steps like removing frontline workers and putting them on alternative duties. That’s something that is all available.
STEFANOVIC: So there is a very, very smart man saying to the Australian people, “everyone get vaccinated, everyone get vaccinated, but if you’re a healthcare worker, ahh you don’t have to.” Simon, do you support compulsory vaccination for aged care workers and nurses in our hospitals?
BIRMINGHAM: Well, yes, in relation to aged care workers, that decision has already been taken. And now the expectation is there that it will be mandatory and that people are going to have to meet that test. And look frankly, the states and territories, in terms of the administration of their hospitals, clearly should be making sure that especially those who are in the wards, working proximate to the wards, that actually are treating people with COVID, clearly should’ve been vaccinated by now and must be vaccinated.
STEFANOVIC: And Richard, you’re – some labour unions are out there this morning saying, “it’s not going to happen, they don’t need vaccinations, they need money”. How do you respond? Should it be compulsory for health workers in our hospitals and aged care homes?
MARLES: Yes, it should. The main game, though, Karl is we need to actually get those who want to get vaccinated, vaccinated. But right now, the majority of those in healthcare have not been – in aged care – have not been vaccinated. And this government said that it was all going to be done by Easter. So yeah, it should be mandatory. But – but first of all, what needs to happen is the government needs to get injections into the arms of people who want them. And that was meant to have happened by Easter. You know, they were meant to have thirteen pop up clinics, they haven’t got them. Wherever you look, his vaccine roll out is botched.
STEFANOVIC: But here’s the problem too, there are a lot of healthcare workers that don’t want this vaccine. And that to the Australian public – that’s hard to take. That’s hard work to come in terms of the sell, right? I mean, I don’t know how you do that. Anyway. We have to move on with the program. Thank you for your time today, it’s good to have agreement on that mandatory vaccinations for health workers. Let’s hope it happens. Somehow. Ally over to you.