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08 June 2021

SUBJECTS: Hopes for lockdown lifting in Melbourne; vaccination rates in group housing and care workforce; Pfizer vaccination potentially approved for children; Adam Goodes refuses AFL Hall of Fame berth; Salvation Army helping vulnerable Australians and students during COVID
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. It's looking like Freedom Friday for Melbourne, more than six million Victorians finally expected to come out of their hard lockdown, fingers crossed. But some commentators this morning asking the question, why is it taking so long? Let's discuss with Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten, who joins us from a Salvation Army depot in Melbourne, and here in the studio from 2GB, Chris Smith. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you. Bill to you. First of all, why wait till Friday?
BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: I think that we've got to make sure we're on top of this. I think I'm like all Victorians, and Melburnians in particular, we're seriously sick of the lockdown, but we've got to do what you've got to do to make sure the virus doesn't take off in Melbourne.
STEFANOVIC: At some point, you're going have to live with it a little bit. I mean, you can't just keep locking down.
SHORTEN: I agree. We're on our fourth lockdown, people are sick of it, but I just would encourage Melburnians, in fact, all Australians, get vaccinated. The best way to be able to live with this virus is to make sure that if you catch it, it doesn't kill you. So, let's vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. And I'd encourage Scott Morrison, can you please just get on and vaccinate all the aged care workers and all the aged care people and all the people in disability housing and disability workers? That would help a great deal.
STEFANOVIC: I'll circle back to that in just a second for the numbers. But, Chris, what do you make of that lockdown?
CHRIS SMITH, 2GB: Yeah, it should have been lifted on Monday morning, midnight Sunday night. You think about a single figure numbers they had for most of last week, those incredible testing rates. Melburnians went in and did the right thing. There was no widespread outbreak. And this is was what Alan Chang, the deputy chief health officer, admitted on Sunday. We would have seen evidence of a widespread outbreak. They didn't get it. They should have opened on Monday. And if you think you can get by by locking down every time you have four days of four infections, you're not serious about how you're going to tackle this into the future
STEFANOVIC: Until after all the hoopla of aged care centres last week and all the promises that were made last week, and in terms of disability vaccinations, how are we tracking this week?
SHORTEN: Well, the Health Workers Union in Victoria have done a survey of 2000 of their members who work in aged care, only twenty one per cent are saying they've had two vaccinations, 30 per cent have said they've had one, but over 40 per cent have said they've had none yet.
SHORTEN: We've still got a situation. I kid you not in Melbourne, that health workers and aged care workers are having to go and find their own vaccination because they want to go to work and help the vulnerable. Listen, the rollout of the vaccination has been a complete shemozzle.
SMITH: How much, Bill, how much of this, though, is health workers, as we saw in the United States, a large percentage of them refusing to get the jab?
SHORTEN: Listen, I'm not about to put the boot into the aged care workers, if we had enough vaccinations where everyone who wanted a vaccine had had one, then I think that we need to have that discussion. So, I'm not dismissing your point, Chris, but let's face it, people who want the vaccination in Melbourne can't get the vaccination yet. And that's what we've got to push on with.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, meantime, The Age reporting this morning, our medical regulator is considering whether to approve the Pfizer jab for children from the age of 12. Bill, would you be happy to get your kids vaccinated?
SHORTEN: Sure, no problems, I mean, there's been an outbreak related to a school not far from my electorate. What I don't want to see is infection getting into some of the public housing towers and some of the more tightly densely packed parts of our community. So, yes, but again, this is what, new public health message twenty eight? I mean, some of the people who are 40 want to get the vaccine, don't know if they're eligible. You know, you've had people argue about Pfizer and AstraZeneca. You know, I'm here with the Salvos as they're packing emergency food lots for unemployed casual workers and international students and we still can't get the public health messaging right.
STEFANOVIC: Chris, this is going to be a difficult decision for some parents, though, and we have to reach more than, I guess, 70 per cent or 75 per cent or even 80 per cent for her community. So, this is going to be a huge decision.
SMITH: Yeah, I'll leave the science to the TGA, but these younger people aren't getting as sick as older people would. I think this is so far down the priority list at the moment. Yeah, you've got to look forward. But this is so far down the priority list. And I think not only do we have to get into the aged care facilities and double check that people have had their jabs, as Bill rightly says, but we've got to educate those who, according to those polls this morning, won't get it. You're talking about elderly people who won't get it and their workers who just don't want a bar of it. We saw that in the United States. And what they ended up doing is enticing them with prizes et cetera, but also getting in and explaining once again from the start, this is why you need the jab.
STEFANOVIC: So, Bill, would you say as we go to air this morning, would you say that irrespective of last week, that our aged care facilities and those in disability care centres are safer than they were last week?
SHORTEN: I think it is getting better. I'm not going to be a total rain cloud on the vaccination rollout that I think it is getting better. I am frustrated, though, that it's taken the best part of four months, but it is getting better. I just want to reassure Melburnians and Australians that from what I'm hearing on the ground, it's not going fast enough, but it is certainly better than it was four months ago.
STEFANOVIC: Ok, he's front page of the Herald Sun again today, more than five years after Adam Goodes was booed out of the game. The Herald Sun today reporting the AFL legend has rejected an offer to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Now, Chris, what do you make of that?
SMITH: I think it's awfully sad and awfully sad, not only the way he was booed out of the game, but the fact that he got an apology, I think it was in 2015, he got an apology from the AFL, who rightly left him to fry over and over again and almost every single away game, you know, and yet the apology isn't enough. I hope at one stage he does look at another game of AFL again in a different way, and he does forgive the AFL and those twisted fans who thought it was clever to boo a champion. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, Adam Goodes.
STEFANOVIC: He is clearly, clearly still incredibly upset about what happened, Bill. What do you think?
SHORTEN: I think he's a beautiful athlete, he's three hundred and seventy two games, two Brownlow medals, two grand final premierships to his name. He has always been a consistent campaigner. He has not arrived at the issue of standing up for indigenous athletes in AFL after his career. He's been a champion on and off the field. I respect his choice, but I do hope, as Chris said, it's a sad thing, and I hope one day that he feels that AFL has come to the point where he can take up that Hall of Fame. But what I would say is, rather than people piling on him, let's see if one day he can feel positive enough to accept that position, which he has earned.
STEFANOVIC: Well, he's making his choices now, isn't he? Well, Bill, you're at that Salvation Army depot in Melbourne. I know they've been doing some really important work during this lockdown, haven't they?
SHORTEN: Yeah, what's happening behind me is the Salvos at Project 614 are providing food to unemployed hospitality workers, many of whom are international students, talking to Brendan Nottle in the team as they were delivering the food yesterday to people, these are young people. Frankly, the emotional connection is as important as the ten frozen meals so they can get through. A lot of people have still fallen through the cracks. These are young people, when they live paycheck to paycheck, if they have no money, they get no food. And for a lot of the international students who supplement their time here, this is this is just what it's all about. Melbourne getting through it, sticking together. And a big shout out to the Salvos at Project 614 here in Bourke Street in Melbourne.
STEFANOVIC: Well done. And thank you, Smithy. Great to see you.