2CC Stephen Cenatiempo Breakfast Show- 21/12/2021

21 December 2021


SUBJECTS: Political panel with Liberal Senator Zed Seselja; Adam Bandt tweet; Young people; Jobs and training; Booster rollout; Christmas message.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Joining us for the last time this year on our federal political panel, we have the Labor Member for Canberra, Alicia Payne. Morning Alicia.

CENATIEMPO: And Liberal Senator for the ACT, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja's with us. G'day Zed.

CENATIEMPO: Off the back of Shane Rattenbury's tweets. I want to, Alicia, start with you. Adam Bandt has tweeted on Friday saying that, well, basically alluding to, you know, if school leavers think that sitting on their backside for two years and smoking weed is an admirable ambition. Do you have a response to that?
PAYNE: Yeah, I thought that was a pretty silly tweet. And I think it shows how out of touch Adam Bandt actually is with young people who have finished school at an incredibly challenging time for the world, with COVID, with doing a lot of their Year 11 and 12 through remote learning, being separated from their classmates and coming into an economy that's a little bit fragile. And what young people are concerned about is having secure stable work and getting the education that they need to be able to get that work. We've had the government decimate universities and the TAFE sector and young people finishing school are wondering how they're going to get into the trades or the university courses that they want. So I for think Adam Bandt to suggests that young people are thinking about sitting around doing nothing for two years is just completely out of touch with the real concerns that young people have. What I would agree with him on was that really young people should be encouraged to pursue whatever it is they want to do, whether that's, you know, whatever kind of job or education or career they want to pursue and not to be too hung up about the score that they get at the end of your 12.
CENATIEMPO: Zed, I think that's an important message that I think we can all agree with it. You know, whilst we should all strive for the best result we can get in high school, if you don't get the ATAR you wanted. It's not the end of the world.
SESELJA: Yeah, that's absolutely right. I mean, there's a couple of things on that ridiculous tweet from Adam Bandt. One is, I don't think there are many parents I've spoken to, and I've got a couple of young people who have left school as my children. And I've got a 16 year old now, obviously, he's a couple of years away from that. The idea that parents are hoping their kids will sit in the basement and smoke dope for a couple of years is ridiculous and out of touch. And obviously, quite aside from all the mental health issues, you know, there's no doubt that there are extraordinary opportunities out there for young people. I mean, the jobs market is coming back, many will, of course, do Tafe or university, and I encourage people to pursue those opportunities. But you're absolutely right. If your ATAR isn't exactly what you'd hoped for, and you don't perhaps get into the course you're after. You know, TAFE is a great option, trades are a great option. We're making trades far more available in the last few years. We've seen record numbers of apprenticeships in a number of areas. Or getting a job, the jobs market is really vibrant. And so whatever you plan to do, I would say to young people, you know, go and have a crack, you know, whether it's a job where you're getting skills, whether you're getting further training through TAFE, or university. Take the opportunities that are there and if it isn't your first choice, you'll often find that if you actually get out there and have a have a crack, learn how the world works, learn how the jobs market works. There are a hell of a lot of opportunities in Canberra and beyond right now.
CENATIEMPO: Alicia, I just want to turn our minds back to COVID for a moment. There are people calling for the booster shots to be brought forward. And whilst I think we can all encourage everybody to get the booster shot as soon as it's available. And I think most governments, Western Australia aside, are now trying to tone down the rhetoric and not be as alarmist as they probably once were. Do we need to sort of be a little bit careful here, I mean, and you know, with people screaming to bring these boosters forward. If ATAGI says five months is the go, do we just have to accept that and get on with our lives a little bit?
PAYNE: Well, I certainly think we should accept the advice from ATAGI about the wait time, you know, the interval for getting a booster. But I think the Morison Government has failed to learn the lessons from the main rollout. We're now behind the eight-ball with the booster rollout. We're again, 65th out of 75 countries, that are doing the booster rollout at the moment. And GPs and pharmacists are saying that they don't have the supplies that they need. And we've seen today reported that, the government have been claiming that 80% and 75% of people eligible for their booster have had that. But the Department of Health has said it's more like 45%. So in order to get all the appointments through that we need to get in order to get people the boosters as they're eligible based on ATAGI's advice. We are well behind on the supply again, and it is a race, we know that. So the government just has failed to learn the lessons from the bungling of the first vaccine rollout. And we're seeing around the world that Omicron needs the three shots, the booster is really important for protection against that strain.
CENATIEMPO: Zed, if it was a race, I think, you know, given our vaccination rates, we won the race, if that's the case. But is it true that there is a problem with supply because I'm seeing all over social media, people getting booster shots left, right and centre. And it doesn't seem to be a problem here in the ACT to get an appointment. Is our rollout here different than what's happening around the rest of the country?
SESELJA: Well, no, that's not my understanding at all, that there's any shortage of boosters. And we were one of the first countries to introduce a population wide 18-plus booster program. But when it comes to the rollout, and what Alicia had to say there, I mean, one of the reasons Australians are very well placed to deal with whatever comes forward, whether it's Omicron or anything else, is because we have some of the highest vaccination rates in the world. By a long way. There are very few countries in the world that have 90% double dose vaccination rates, and that's the great protection and boosters are being rolled out now. And many people are taking them up as they should, according to the advice, and that will provide additional protection. I think it's also really important that we are calm and sensible in our response to Omicron. Most of the evidence that's coming out from overseas, is yes, it's quite transmissible, but that the virulence or the health impacts for people have been largely a lot milder than other variants. So we obviously have taken a cautious approach as this new variant emerged. There is no need to panic. I think that the Prime Minister has made that very clear, I think, Premier Perrottet, I think, is showing the way when it comes to that response. The high vaccination rates, you know, the very reason we have those vaccination rates is to deal with these kinds of issues. And of course, boosters will just provide additional protection to people, but of course, the vaccination is what will protect people from COVID.
CENATIEMPO: Alright, let's lighten the mood a bit. Alicia, tell us about your photography competition.
PAYNE: I had a fantastic, so many fantastic entries to my photography competition for my Christmas card and calendar this year. It was just amazing. And we ended up choosing two from Graham Smith and Gavin Kellett. One was of two Gang Gangs, and they really do look like they're smiling. It's an incredible photo. And also a beautiful landscape of Canberra from the top of Mount Ainslie. And Canberrans should have received now a calendar and card in their mailbox with those beautiful photos from those two Canberrans. So it was just such a pleasure to have those gorgeous photos to send out to Canberrans this year. So thank you to everyone that entered and particularly again to Graham and Gavin.
CENATIEMPO: And Zed, your colouring competition. How did that wind up?
SESELJA: Yeah, look, the Christmas card competition. It was great to see some young people having, putting in some fantastic entries. And Eleanor from St. Anthony's Primary School was the winner. And that was the card we went with. And it was a very simple, Merry Christmas, but beautifully done. And congratulations to Eleanor and everyone else who had a crack. But, you know, it's a time to stop and reflect, isn't it? And reflect on on what's important. I want to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas. I hope people really do have the opportunity to, you know, to really spend time with loved ones. It's been it's been a tough year again. And we all know that. We're coming into better times. I know there's a lot of nervousness, but I think we can all feel that we're turning the corner. So I really hope that people have a great rest this Christmas. To you and your listeners, Stephen and to you, Alicia, I hope we will get a bit of a break and into it all again in the new year. 
CENATIEMPO: Absolutely. Sorry, Alicia, I’ll let you go.
PAYNE: I was just going to say I'd also just like to wish everyone a really Merry Christmas. And it has been another tough year so I really hope people get a break and see family that they perhaps haven't seen for a long time. And to everyone just be safe over Christmas and I'm really looking forward to a very happy 2022. And it's been great to talk with you both this year and to all the listeners. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
CENATIEMPO: Thanks to both of you for making yourself available. I know you're very busy in your roles and I really appreciate it and good to talk to you. All the best for Christmas and we'll catch up again next year.
SESELJA: Thanks very much, Stephen.
PAYNE: Thanks Stephen. Thanks Zed.
CENATIEMPO: Zed Seselja and Alicia Payne. It is 20 past seven.