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03 August 2021


SUBJECTS: Labor’s push for incentives to combat vaccine hesitancy; Queensland COVID outbreak; health advice on AstraZeneca; Arm Yourself campaign.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: You're watching Today. Great to have you company. We just heard from him, Labor leader Anthony Albanese, on this show in the last half hour, pushing his big cash for jobs plan, rewarding houses with a three-hundred-dollar payment to roll up their sleeves. And here was the response just minutes after that from the Finance Minister, Simon Birmingham.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Frankly, it's insulting to the many millions of Australians who've already turned out to get a jab. And they've done so because they know that this is the best way to protect their lives, the lives of their loved ones and the lives of the rest of the community.

STEFANOVIC: Think it's running hot? You're right. Let's get into it with Shadow Minister for Government Services and water drinker Bill Shorten - and from Melbourne - and Triple M’s Gus Worland from Sydney. It's hot in the kitchen, isn't it, Bill? Birmo up early this morning responding to Albo and your party's idea for cash for jobs. What do you think?
I think Simon Birmingham needs to just wake up and smell the roses here. I get that 50 to 60 per cent of Australians will get to that vaccination, the double dose, I had mine on Saturday. But if we're to get to 70 and 80 per cent and stop the lockdowns, then we need to tackle vaccine hesitancy. Not everyone who's getting a vaccination or not getting a vaccination is doing it because they’re an anti-vaxxer. There's a bit of mistrust in our health system. I think Anthony's idea could be a real circuit breaker, no less a person than Joe Biden, the President of the United States, has proposed something similar. And if the Government's got a better plan, let's hear it. We've been waiting for their plan for sixteen months.
STEFANOVIC: It just feels a bit dirty, doesn't it? Getting cash for a jab.
SHORTEN: Oh, hang on a second. We've got to get to 80 per cent. For me, what feels bad is watching all of the people in Sydney being locked down. And what feels bad to me is when businesses can't open. What feels bad to me is when the kids are at home. The funerals have been cancelled; the weddings are cancelled. I mean, the funerals aren't cancelled. You just can't go and see them. But the point is, it's nasty. And so, we've got to do everything we can. This is all shoulders to the wheel.
STEFANOVIC: Gus, cold, hard cash or lifestyle incentives. What works for you?
GUS WORLAND, TRIPLE M: Yeah, I mean, it's sad that we have to use the incentive, but I understand where Bill's coming from. And, you know, I've got three kids at home at the moment. One of them's had the jab already. One's already booked in. Will this actually stop people getting the jab in the next couple of weeks, as they sort of wait for the Liberal Party or the Government to make the decision thinking, well, if I wait a couple of weeks, I might end up getting the - it's just so murky again, I suppose. But we've got to try something. We're losing way more money by us being in lockdown than the three hundred bucks here and there that we're going to give people to get the jab. I'm getting mine done this morning, AstraZeneca. I’ve flipped and flopped over the last couple of months on whether or not I should have the Pfizer or not. There's been so much mistrust. Who knows, who knows what to do. But at the end of the day, you just got to go for it. And that's what I'm doing. And I think generally Australians are too.
STEFANOVIC: Incentives like no jab, no entry for sporting events, restaurants, theatres, flying, Bill, they're coming.
SHORTEN: Yeah, I think they are. I think carrots work better than sticks. Having said that, I just want to reassure Gussy, I had my AstraZeneca on Saturday and it's working fine. I went to the factory where they make them Gus, and Australian made, high quality. You'll be fine. And yeah, I think there will be some sticks, though, Karl, as you say. And for the people who don't want to get the jab I just say, it's not about yourself anymore, it's about everyone else. And, you know, be it Queensland, New South Wales, we need to stop the lockdowns. The only path out of the lockdown's is vaccination. So, I don't mind what gets you from A to B, but I certainly want you to get to that vaccine destination.
STEFANOVIC: I tell you what. I tell you what, I mean the one thing you're saying that is 100 percent right, Bill this morning is, that it may not be cash that the government does, but where is their plan for incentives? Where is it, to entice people to come and get a vaccine? They've been out criticising already this morning. They know that's going to run hot, that three hundred dollars cash. Anyway, Queensland's outbreak’s growing. The government says there's never been a more important time to get a jab. Yesterday, we had the state's chief health officer, Jeanette Young, doubling down on her advice that young Australians should not be given AstraZeneca because of the risk of blood clots. Take a listen.
JEANETTE YOUNG, QUEENSLAND CHO: I said I didn't want 18-year olds to have AstraZeneca, and I still don't.
JOURNALIST: So, what age should they get it?
YOUNG: 60.

STEFANOVIC: She is adamant about that Bill, when you have a well-respected health professional, the woman who is on every day on the television giving health advice to Queenslanders saying that, you're going to believe her, are you?
SHORTEN: Well, there's plenty of other health experts who are not saying that, Listen, I think she's done a great job. But this is where perhaps we're setting the doctors up to fail. You know, we say we've got to follow the medical advice, but when the medical advice contradicts each other, I think you've got to try and go to the weight of the evidence. But you should go and get your own advice if you're 18, from your GP. Everyone agrees on that. But what I also think is that this isn't a theoretical exercise in a perfect world. This COVID virus is not just happening in a wet market in Wuhan. This is locking down Brisbane, locking down Sydney, locking down Melbourne. I think that we've got to actually just get people vaccinated. I have to say, from what I've read, I don't have the same view as the Chief Health Officer of Queensland. She's an expert. I'm just a politician. But I also know that the only way out of lockdown is vaccination. And you know, I'm under 60. I've had the AZ and I'm pleased I've got my double dose because the more people who do that, the more we can get life back to normal.
STEFANOVIC: So, if you had a choice between Pfizer and Astra, you wouldn't care which one it was?
SHORTEN: Well, I chose AstraZeneca. When I went to do it, it wasn't the choice. But I'm pleased I have because a lot of people think the politicians just look after themselves. And I am happy that I had an AZ, you know, I've been locked down for 150 days, like my voters. I'm having AZ like a lot of people in my age group. And I think it's important that we try and share the issues.
STEFANOVIC: Listen, we're fast catching up on that 150, aren't we, Gussy? We can feel it coming. What about this is an old school way to promote the vaccine roll out? Check this out, I love this. This Arm Yourself campaign against COVID could be the new poster girl for a new national campaign. Positive, reassuring message, Gus.
WORLAND: Yeah, I like it. I think it's nice. I think it's going to - a lot of people out there will get with it, a lot of people talking about similar to that sort of wartime poster, I suppose. At the end of the day, as soon as I saw it, I liked it, showed my kids this morning they went, Oh, that's really cool. So, you know, it's all positive for me in terms of that. And I love the fact that we're thinking outside of the box. We're doing something a little bit different to get people just to think about it in a different way. It's a really powerful message. I reckon. 
STEFANOVIC: When Bill says 150 days and what are we, about half of that, what goes through your mind immediately, Gussy?
WORLAND: Oh, look, the problem for me, you know, Karl as you know, with the work I do at Got You For Life, that you helped me with so much, you know, I'm just worried about the mental fitness of Australians every single day - the lack of hope, the fact that we don't seem to have a finishing line, we're worried about that. You know, it just really, really messes with people's heads. And as Bill said, right off the top, you know, the businesses that are going down the ground at the moment, it's just tragic. You know, we just need to get vaccinated. We can't have these lockdowns. The rest of the world has moved on because of vaccine. So, we've got to do the same thing. And I'm just worried about our mental fitness mate, moving forward. Those numbers, unfortunately, are horrific.
STEFANOVIC: Good way to end it Gus, thank you so much. Bill, good to see you, mate. Thank you.