06 August 2021

6 AUGUST 2021 

SUBJECT: Political Panel with Andrew Wallace MP; Lockdowns; Vaccine Rollout; $300 Vaccine Incentive.

DANICA DE GIORGIO, HOST: Now it is time to discuss the day's top stories. Joining me are Liberal MP, Andrew Wallace and Labor MP Alicia Payne. Great to see you both. Thank you for joining me this Friday afternoon. Let's get straight into it, of course most of the country is now in lockdown and we have a situation where the trigger point is quite low for lockdown as agreed by National Cabinet. Andrew, is this sustainable do you think until we get higher levels of vaccination?


ANDREW WALLACE, LIBERAL MEMBER FOR FISHER: Look, as we've been saying continuously throughout this process, we have to take the best medical advice that we can get. And the Doherty Institute provided very important advice to the nation. And really, that's just all we can do. We have to follow that medical advice. It's it's stood us in excellent stead when you compare us to just about every other country in the world. If you looked at the sort of situation where if you compared us to other countries like the US and the UK, very sadly, we may have lost 30,000 lives in Australia. But every life that has been lost is an absolute tragedy, I accept that and I'm sure that everyone accepts that but we still have done very, very well. But there's a lot more work to do. I don't think anybody would would deny that.


DE GIORGIO: Okay, but in terms of a short and sharp lockdown, we're still going with it. We don't know when we might hit that 80% threshold, Andrew. So how can states and territories and as a country we go on like this?


WALLACE: Well, the short answer is we can't go on like this forever. We have to get vaccinated, we have to get as many people as we can. We have to encourage them to get vaccinated, this is our ticket out. Now, as far as the short, sharp lockdowns, the jury is still out, but things are looking very promising in Queensland. The press conference this morning with the Queensland CHO, you know if we can get on top of these things, act very quickly, maybe have a lockdown for a week or so, that's much better than three months. So, you know the the moral of the story is if we all get out and get vaccinated, then we will certainly drastically reduce our chances of these lockdowns. But until we reach that magical figure, until we get to 70 to 80% of Australians vaccinated, we are going to have to deal with these lockdowns. So go out and get vaccinated.


DE GIORGIO: Well, we might not reach that level, Alicia, until perhaps December at the very earliest. So do we just have to live with the fact that short and sharp lockdowns are part of our reality between now and then?



Well look, this has been an incredibly difficult week for so many Australians with now around 60% of the population in lockdown as of yesterday. And you know, Sydney again today with the highest case numbers on record, again today. You know, I really have been disgusted, frankly, with the Prime Minister and the Government's attitude this week, repeated again then by Andrew that we should be thankful that things aren't worse. We are in this position because the Government has mismanaged the vaccine rollout and federal quarantine that they should have taken responsibility for. Something that I do agree with Andrew on is that we need to ensure that we encourage people to get out and get vaccinated. But how can he say that when this week, the Labor Party put forward a positive suggestion (interrupted)


WALLACE: It wasn't positive


PAYNE: of a $300 incentive for people to get vaccinated before the first of December and the Government have out and out and rejected it because they want to play politics. People are looking for leadership. We are in a national crisis and this week in the Parliament, we saw no leadership from this Prime Minister, we saw a Prime Minister who shirks responsibility who wants to hide from his responsibility in this Federal Government and play politics. (interrupted)


WALLACE: I mean that is


PAYNE: We need to be looking at ways that we can get to that 80%, we are at 16% at the moment, 16%. And hearing from my colleagues in the Parliament this week who are in some of the worst hit areas about the experiences that their constituents are having, desperately trying to get their vaccinations and having appointments cancelled, desperately wanting to be vaccinated and not yet having access. And now they're in lockdown. These people in Sydney should have been vaccinated months ago. And then maybe they wouldn't be in lockdown.


DE GIORGIO: Alicia, you mentioned messaging, do you think that the rhetoric from the Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young this week, once again in terms of her opinions on AstraZeneca has helped the situation?


PAYNE: Now Jeanette Young is a doctor and a public servant. She is a medical officer. We should be listening to the advice of these medical officers and as politicians our one role in that should be promoting it.


DE GIORGIO: Shouldn't people be able to be given that opportunity to speak to their GP about their own options?


PAYNE: Well that's been the advice, to speak to your GP. And as I say, politicians should be, you know, not using these Chief Medical Officers as political pawns but following the advice that they give Government, following and promoting (interrupted)


WALLACE: You might want to tell that to Annastacia Palaszczuk.


PAYNE: Promoting that advice to go and get vaccinated.


DE GIORGIO: Andrew, Gladys Berejiklian has said it's now about vaccines, Scott Morrison has said, well, we need these short and sharp lockdowns, you've got the Queensland Chief Health Officer saying another thing? Is this messaging completely confusing the public?


WALLACE: Well, look, I think we do need very clear communications throughout this process. I was talking to a young lady, just last night. She would have been in her late 20s. And clearly, you know, the message isn't getting out there to her demographic, it's not the first young person I've spoken to. So we do need to be speaking a lot more clearly. I think it's important that everybody gets on board and look what we're seeing, you know, the hypocrisy that Alicia has just been sprouting just a moment ago about talking how Anthony Albanese has been all constructive. What a load of garbage. I mean, Anthony Albanese may have been constructive up until around about June or July, but someone flipped the switch. Maybe he thought he was going to be challenged for the leadership.


PAYNE: No I'm sorry Andrew that is rubbish. That is absolute rubbish.


WALLACE: I let you speak. Alicia I let you speak, you let me speak so.


PAYNE: Well, you haven't. You keep interrupting me.


WALLACE: Anthony Albanese has played nothing but nothing but politics for the last 12 months. So you know, it is a bit rich for you


PAYNE: That is rubbish.


WALLACE: to be coming out today and be talking about the Labor party being constructive. You've been anything but constructive. This $300 bribe that Albo came out is a thought bubble. It was absolute rubbish.


PAYNE: That is absolute rubbish. And I say this very genuinely that sitting in the Parliament this week I have felt disgusted by the Prime Minister's failure to take any responsibility for this, to answer serious questions when so many Australians are facing a crisis at the moment, an actual crisis. You know, we don't know when the lockdown in Sydney is going to lift, we don't know how many case, what peak these cases are going to get to but just that they're on the up and up at the moment. We don't know where, you know, the vaccines are coming from that people need to urgently go out and be vaccinated (interrupted)


WALLACE: Do you think. Do you think your conduct today.


PAYNE: They should have been vaccinated months ago. And if this Prime Minister had stepped up and done his job they would have been.


WALLACE: Alicia do you think your conduct today is helping people?


PAYNE: I'm really nervous, I'm really nervous for this country Andrew and what I've seen this week.


WALLACE: Do you think your conduct today. Do you think your conduct today and of your colleagues is helpful? Do you really think that? Because people are sitting home.


PAYNE: I absolutely do because I am standing with Australians saying that people need to be able to go and get their vaccination people need some certainty as to when we are going to be.


WALLACE: The Labor Party is weaponising this issue. It is absolutely disgraceful. It is absolutely disgraceful.


PAYNE: No we are not, no we are not. And I think even that accusation is disgraceful and we saw that from the Prime Minister in question time this week.


WALLACE: Ha, truth hurts. Truth hurts.


DE GIORGIO: Let's talk then, you mentioned this, let's talk about incentives then because this week Labor of course announced a monetary incentive, a plan to give people money to be vaccinated. Alicia, the Prime Minister has said that Labor is being reckless fiscally, it'll cost about $6 billion dollars. Are you worried that there could be implications of such a plan, given the fragility of the economy already? Or is this what Australians need?


PAYNE: So Treasury modelling has shown that a national lockdown costs this country $3.2 billion a week. So this policy costs less than two weeks of lockdown. And how many weeks, months of lockdown are we going to be in? We've got 60% of the country in lockdown at the moment. And let's not forget that this is the highest spending Government that Australia has ever seen. But what have they got to show for it? Nothing. I can't point to what great reforms or economic stimulus that they have provided. (interrupted)


WALLACE: 3.2% growth in the last quarter.


PAYNE: Let's not forget, let's not forget, if you let me finish, please Andrew, let's not forget that every cent of that $300 incentive will go back into the economy, back to businesses who have had an absolutely horrendous 18 months. That money will be spent and go back into the economy. It is a great value for money and incentive for Australians to go and get vaccinated.


DE GIORGIO: And Andrew incentives aside, I mean what more can be done here because people want their vaccine and some just simply can't access it.


WALLACE: Well I would encourage people to go on to and register for vaccines. Now, I hear all sorts of stories from many people, not just the Labor Party, some people saying it takes, it might take days, some people saying it might take weeks. I've had constituents tell me that, you know, they've rung a particular GP or maybe their own GP and they've been told they can't be vaccinated for three weeks, maybe longer and I've suggested to them that they ring around and try some others, and they've got in much, much sooner. So my advice is to, you know, if you if someone is telling you they can't vaccinate you for a long period of time, even for a few weeks, shop around, get on the phone, get on the website, and and see who is able to deliver the vaccines to you sooner. I mean, we have millions of AstraZeneca vaccines that are going for begging right now. Instead of the Labor Party continuously, you know, fear mongering and scaring people we need to be encouraging people.


PAYNE: No, that is a disgraceful accusation, that is disgraceful Andrew that you would even say that.


WALLACE: It is absolutely true.


PAYNE: No, it's ridiculous and it's disgusting.


DE GIORGIO: All right, we are unfortunately out of time. And as I said last week, at least we have a bipartisan approach on getting vaccinated. Andrew Wallace, Alicia Payne, great to chat with you this afternoon. Thank you for joining me


WALLACE: Have a good weekend.


PAYNE: Thanks Danica.