Sky News AM Agenda – pandemic exit plan, vaccine

Friday, 02 July 2021

DANICA DE GIORGIO, HOST: I’m now joined by Labor MP Amanda Rishworth. Amanda, thank you for joining me. Firstly, what do you make of this roadmap to end lockdowns and open up travel?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Well, of course, any roadmap is a good thing. I think the issue really is that we don’t know when, we don’t have any vaccine targets. Obviously, each of these phases rely on a certain percentage of the population being vaccinated. And we don’t know what that percentage is, that work hasn’t been done. So I think to give the people much confidence around this issue, what we do need to see is what are the targets for the vaccine rollout? What are those milestones? What are we trying to head towards so that we can move through the different phases? And that crucial bit of information is missing, unfortunately, from this roadmap. And that’s what I think everyone wants to see, is what is that vaccination level where we can get out of the situation where we do have lockdowns in most states and territories.

DE GIORGIO: Yeah, we don’t have that magic number just yet. But there’s been a lot of discussion about vaccine incentives. Do you think that this gives people a more clear incentive to get that vaccine in the hope that we can move to phase two?

RISHWORTH: There’s a lot of people telling me they can’t get a vaccine. I mean, there is an issue with supply here clearly from the Commonwealth. The States and Territories are saying that. I guess people hopefully can see some positive process out of this, but I’m not sure if this really gives us a timeframe, an urgency that we need in this situation. And I’ve certainly been contacted by many people who say they want to they want to book in for the vaccine that’s recommended for them, and they can’t do that. So there are certainly problems here that need to be sorted and sorted quickly.

DE GIORGIO: A big change is of course, the 50 per cent reduction of international arrivals. Does Labor support that change?

RISHWORTH: Obviously that’s a decision for national cabinet. But this is a situation where Premiers don’t have purpose built quarantine facilities. I mean, ultimately, the Premiers have been calling out for the Commonwealth to take responsibility of quarantine, to have some purpose built quarantine facilities, and the Commonwealth has not committed to a nationwide set of quarantine facilities. So it’s no wonder that the Premiers are having to call on these very drastic actions. And they do have consequences for people that are stuck overseas. But this really comes down to the Commonwealth not having last year – really when we knew that this pandemic was going to go on for some time – bit the bullet and actually take responsibility over national quarantine facilities.

DE GIORGIO: This week, we’ve seen a record number of Australians being vaccinated. Of course, we saw this week that younger people, the AstraZeneca is now open to younger people. Do you think that the younger population could be key to saving this rollout?

RISHWORTH: I would encourage everyone to speak to their doctor, to follow medical advice. I guess what I’m most concerned about is why are we in this situation? And ultimately, it comes down to being last in the queue for having vaccinations like Pfizer and Moderna. Other countries around the world when the medical advice changed, they were able to pivot very quickly to rolling out the Moderna and Pfizer to their younger population. We haven’t been able to do that, despite Greg Hunt saying the eagle has landed, ads going out on social media with the Liberal Party logo advertising their supply of Pfizer. Now we’re seeing the consequence of not having done more deals earlier with vaccine. So that’s why we’re in this difficult position, where young people aren’t able just to roll up and get the vaccine immediately. They do have to go and speak to their doctor about some of the risks around different vaccine types. So I’m disappointed we’re in this position, and that the government hasn’t more accurately and more aggressively got more supply of Moderna and Pfizer, the vaccine recommended for younger Australians.

DE GIORGIO: Amanda Rishworth, unfortunately we are out of time. Thank you for joining me this afternoon.


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