2CC Stephen Cenatiempo Breakfast Show- 23/11/2021

23 November 2021


SUBJECTS: Political panel with Liberal Senator Jim Molan; Morrison Government held hostage by rogue MPs and Senators; PM dog-whistling to anti-vaxxers; Vaccine mandates; Protests.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: It's time for our federal political panel this morning and a little bit of a different flavour to it. Joining us, as she does, is Labor member for Canberra, Alicia Payne. Good morning, Alicia.




CENATIEMPO: And filling in this morning for Zed Seselja, he just can't get enough of us, is New South Wales Senator Jim Molan. G'day Jim.


NSW LIBERAL SENATOR JIM MOLAN: Good morning, Stephen. Just call me Zed.


CENATIEMPO: You look exactly, you're identical to look at. Now, obviously, we need to talk about the fracas are in the Senate yesterday. I mean an absolute debacle, Jim has the government lost control of its own members?


MOLAN: No, not at all. We hold up as something which is very, very valuable. The fact that we, in the backbench, do have the ability to express a different opinion on occasion. And we've seen similar things happen in the Labor Party in the Senate and in the house. And now those divisions are kept very, very quiet. And then you drive Joel Fitzgibbon out of the, one of the best members on the ALP side, out of the house. You know, on my suspicion is that this is a normal part of the way things work. You look back on it, Howard said to a friend of mine, 'I don't mind you crossing the floor, just don't do it too often'. But no, it's not and it was proven, I think, by the vote that was 44 to five.


CENATIEMPO: Alicia, I wonder why we were even debating this. And I've got to say I'm of the opinion that everybody should get vaccinated, but I don't believe anybody should be forced too. So I'm against vaccine mandates. But I don't understand what the federal government was doing even debating what is largely state government jurisdiction.


PAYNE: Well, this has just been extraordinary what we saw yesterday with five government Senators crossing the floor on an anti-vaccination bill, a private members bill.


CENATIEMPO: Well hang on Alicia. Stop there. It wasn't an anti-vaccination bill. You got to stop saying that. It was anti-vaccine mandate. So, but anyway, go on.


PAYNE: Well, I think it was anti-vaccination. And ...


CENATIEMPO: Well it wasn't.


PAYNE: The reason this is so extraordinary.


CENATIEMPO: That's not true.


PAYNE: What Jim is saying they have the right to cross the floor. This is an issue that conflicts with what has been the most important message from the federal government over the last two years about the need to get out and get vaccinated. And this is really dangerous misinformation.


MOLAN: That's not true I'm afraid. Alicia, I'm sorry, it was not an anti-vax bill at all. It was a bill brought up by certain individuals that certainly reflected what Craig Kelly and George Christensen have been saying, hardly a word was changed from stuff that they put forward in the past. But this was about mandates, but then it went so much further than mandates. Now we've got a national plan, which is working. There are exceptional circumstances when you should be vaxxed, but there is no mandate at all. And some of the conditions in the bill Alicia, they just went ballistic. You wouldn't be able to, you wouldn't be able to fund the St Johns ambulance if you both voted for this bill. So it was pretty ...


PAYNE: The Senators that voted are the same ones that are peddling the misinformation. And the Prime Minister's failed to pull them into line. And I think that is extraordinary. We've seen an outbreak in the Northern Territory this week in remote communities and misinformation has played a large role in those communities not having the high vaccination rates that other communities have. That's what we're hearing. And this is, you know, similar to what we've seen from the Prime Minister this week with his, you know, not very strong on condemning some of the protests we're seeing in Melbourne because he's trying to walk both sides of the street on this issue. I think it's really, really dangerous that people in the government are allowed to have these views publicly.


MOLAN: But Alicia, don't your talking points tell you to refer to the Melbourne, the Melbourne demonstration as an anti-vaxx demonstration. Whereas it was both anti-vaxx by some individuals and anti-Premier Andrews mandating of COVID requirements.


PAYNE: Well, it was clearly a violent protest. It was clearly a very disturbing element in a democracy. Anyway, I'll come back to your point about vaccine mandates. The Prime Minister yesterday was saying that he doesn't support vaccine mandates, but then he has for a lot of industries like aged care. So he's walking both sides of the street.


MOLAN: Health care, but no, don't forget health care.


PAYNE: Well there you go.


MOLAN: Absolutely.


CENATIEMPO: But Alicia, most sensible people would say that there are some, some specific areas where these, where it is, people should be required to be vaccinated. But across the board to suggest that forever and a day unvaccinated people should not be able to participate in society is another thing. But I want to get back to, Jim, this issue of these protests. I mean, the opposition needs to take a long, hard look at itself here. Trying to label everybody as an extremist and suggesting they were violent protests. Where was the violence?


MOLAN: There were certainly some very, very silly signs and some of the nutty fringe will always come out. Just as they come to the CFMMEU demonstrations, as they come to ACTU demonstrations, as they come to every union demonstration. Most of them are union members, but that doesn't matter. But that you can, you know, what's a politician without talking points, Stephen? I ask you, not much bloody good, but you can pick the Labor talking points at the moment. And, you know, the cartoon yesterday in the Australian. Now, lots of, I don't know whether you read the Australian, Alicia, but that was a very funny cartoon. It had Albo coaching, Labor ministers in how to attack Scott Morrison.


PAYNE: Well, that's a very weak defence, Jim, of a party that's not united. A party that, for example, that shares lies about vaccination.


MOLAN: Oh, tell me about, Joel Fitzgibbon. Come on, tell me about Joel. Come on. The reason that Jim Chalmers is not prepared yesterday to admit that he's gonna bring it on. Is because you don't have a policy on climate change. Don't have a policy on wages. I know the ACTU does ...


PAYNE: You've been in government for eight years and you don't have a policy on climate change. We do. We have already been out announcing things and we will announce ours, in full, very soon.


MOLAN: You might have missed ...


PAYNE: No, I saw the slide deck. I saw the slide deck. And then I saw the extended version of the slide deck which was called modelling. But it's not really modelling. It's just more pages.


CENATIEMPO: I just, one last thing Jim. I just want to touch on though with regards to this ridiculous thing in the Senate yesterday, is we've got government members who will, look I understand Pauline Hanson doing this because it's part of our M.O and I'll talk to her about that later this morning. But your govern, government Senators threatening to not support legislation for the remainder of this Parliament, because of this, this legislation not going through yesterday that the federal government had no jurisdiction over.


MOLAN: Correct. Now I don't support that aspect of it at all. I think that going nuclear, and it's not necessary to go nuclear in relation to that. That's what (inaudible) people. So, and, you know, I have the greatest respect for my colleagues. And I will not, I will not criticize my colleagues, I just don't agree with the conclusion that they have come to in relation to not voting for us. If you object to an issue, that's fine. If you're, if you're going to object to an issue, and then insist that you, well, maybe you should be on the crossbench. But I respect them. And I respect their right to do it.


PAYNE: And now they're holding your legislative agenda to ransom. What do you think about that, Jim? They're holding the Prime Ministers legislative agenda to ransom. This could be the last sittings before an election and you don't have a lot to show for eight years in government. So there's probably some things you want to get through. And these people, are you're going to defend their right to hold that up as part of the government?


MOLAN: Listen, you've got to listen to the words that are use Alicia. I said I do not agree with that. Now,  now, yesterday, when, when Labor came out and said, you know, a minister, a prime minister or minister, you've got to, you've got to come out and say that you don't agree with these so called anti-vaxxers, in the big demonstrations, and the Prime Minister and Simon Birmingham came out said, 'We don't agree with the violent aspect of it' and the next question was, you know, but you can't agree with, but we just said it. He said, time and time and time again yesterday, but it's typical.


PAYNE: Well, what we're concerned about is whenever the Prime Minister has talked about these protests, he's had a big, 'BUT people are frustrated and state governments should be opening up'. Of course, I agree with that. Everyone's agreeing with that. We're not talking about that.


MOLAN: Yes, we are talking about that.


PAYNE: We're talking about having the violent protests. And the state governments are opening up. This is this is just dog whistling. This is not what is actually going on, what the Prime Minister's talking about. But he wants those people's votes, that's what it's about.


CENATIEMPO: Guys, I'd love to go on for another hour with this, but, unfortunately, we do have to move on. Alicia Payne. Jim Molan. Thanks for your time this morning.