SUBJECTS: UQ vaccine trial cancelled; National Cabinet; Vaccination. 

JOURNALIST: Obviously a bit of a blow to Australian vaccine hopes with one of the four being struck out. Your general reaction to the news breaking this morning?

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: It is a blow. What’s really important now is that the Government gives a very clear explanation of what’s happened, or what the plan is going forward. Because vaccines are going to be a critical part of getting us past the COVID-19 crisis. And it’s really important that the government maintains public confidence around this program.

JOURNALIST: National Cabinet meeting today, first face-to-face meeting since forming. There have been some serious disagreements between the leaders, how do you think they’re going to go today?

MARLES: Well, it’s nice that National Cabinet is meeting in person. It’s another sign that we’re getting back to some sense of normality. I mean, I think the Government has seen Australia- the Australian Federation put under as much stress as it ever has been this year, that’s been a function of a lack of leadership on the part of the Prime Minister. So, what I hope to see from National Cabinet today is much more leadership from the Prime Minister about how the country can move forward as one.

JOURNALIST: The vaccine though is on the agenda today as one of the priorities. In terms of the false positive HIV test, obviously, not HIV but we have already seen quite a lot of movement on social media, even before today about the anti-vaxxer movement. No doubt this will be ceased upon. Is there a role here for government for an information message, a public information campaign to try and really allay some of those concerns? Because no doubt today’s news possibly could give that movement, a bit of ammunition?

MARLES: Absolutely. It is really important that the Government gives a very clear explanation of the decisions that it has made, the plan that it has going forward, so that it can maintain public confidence in the program of working on and ultimately allowing a vaccine for the Australian community because that’s going to be very important. Vaccines matter. They deeply matter. This is obviously a big blow. But the role for Government today, is to make sure that they are inspiring confidence in the Australian people about the program of developing and ultimately rolling out a vaccine in this country.

JOURNALIST: Are you going to get the jab when it becomes valuable?

MARLES: Oh, absolutely. I’ll be taking all the medical advice. And I have confidence in our doctors, in our scientists to make sure that when the vaccine is publicly available, that’ll be safe and I’ll definitely be taking the vaccine.


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