Sky News First Edition – government’s gas fired power station, vaccines

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me live now is Amanda Rishworth, the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education. Amanda, good to see you, thanks for joining us this morning,. A couple of issues I want to talk to you about today, and I know that it’s outside of your portfolio, but I just want to get Labor’s reaction this morning to our top story, which is the government backing a gas power plant now in the Hunter Valley.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Well I think with any of these types of projects, you want to see value for taxpayers’ money. And this project, from the information I’ve seen, doesn’t give you value for taxpayers’ money. The handpicked government Chair of the Energy Security Board says that this will deliver high cost power. That’s not what we want, we want low cost power. And of course, AEMO the market regulator pretty much said this isn’t necessary. And there’s been some estimations that its capacity will be only about 2 per cent of its capacity will be used over a year. So my question to the government is, is this a waste of taxpayers’ money? Because certainly, when it comes to the experts, it is looking like the government is wasting taxpayers’ money. And if they’re doing that, why are they doing that? Is this about just continuing an ideological war? Is it about buying votes? Who knows, but it certainly doesn’t seem to stack up when the experts involved are analysing this type of project.

STEFANOVIC: Well it does fall in an area that belongs to Labor at the moment, only marginally. Would you be worried about that?

RISHWORTH: If this is the government’s sort of cynical vote buying exercise, I’m not too worried about that. Because I think what people want to know, what everyone around Australia wants to know, including in the seat of Patterson, is that taxpayers’ money, which is paid for by hardworking Australians, is being used in the most effective and efficient way, that will deliver long term development for the country. They don’t want to see it wasted into white elephants around the country. I think most people would be very frustrated about that. We have an excellent Member of Parliament, Meryl Swanson, in the seat of Patterson, and I have no doubt that her connection with the community and what she’s offering the community far outweighs any cynical ploy from this government.

STEFANOVIC: Something would need to be done, though, to plug that shortfall that will be left by the closure of Liddell. So what would Labor do?

RISHWORTH: Well I’m wanting to listen to the experts on this. I want to know what are the cheap sources of power that we can put in place that gets value for taxpayers’ money, that may even be commercially viable. I mean, one of the issues around this is that no commercial entity has wanted to enter the market because the economics don’t stack up. So I’d like to see some proper thought go into this with expert involvement in how we make sure we can deliver low cost energy to the region. Not just sort of fight some ideological war, which seems what the government’s doing,

STEFANOVIC: Just on the vaccines, Amanda, there is a survey that’s been published by the Nine newspapers this morning that mentions that one third of all adults who’ve taken part in this survey say that they are unlikely to be vaccinated. They have strong doubts over the vaccine side effects. How worried are you about that?

RISHWORTH: Look I am quite worried that so many people don’t have confidence in this vaccine. The evidence does show that it is a very, or the vaccines on offer, are very safe vaccines. And this really is the best way to protect you from COVID. In some ways though, I understand people’s concern, especially when the government’s vaccine rollout has been quite chaotic. There’s been kind of mixed messages coming from the government around the urgency of this vaccine rollout. When they missed their target back in March of vaccinating 4 million people, they said this isn’t a race, it’s slow and steady. So I guess if people hear that then they don’t feel the urgency to go out and get a vaccine. I also know people are continuing to struggle to be able to find a place in some places to get a vaccine. So there is a bit of confusion and chaos out there. I would certainly urge the government to provide some strong advice, whether it is in a marketing campaign, Scott Morrison is quite good at marketing campaigns, to actually put out there a strong campaign which provides clear, concise information about where you can go and get it, how to go and get it, and all the benefits of getting vaccinated. It would be, I think, a really smart move by this government.

STEFANOVIC: Just earlier on the show I spoke to a lady whose brother has an acquired brain injury, and we’re going off topic here, but they have great confusion over where mass vaccination hubs are. There’s none in Queensland, they don’t know what’s going on, they can’t get vaccinated and that’s a real worry. That’s just for the disabled sector, and bear in mind that that was 1A. Anyway off topic there. Amanda Rishworth, we’re out of time but appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for joining us, talk to you soon.

RISHWORTH: Thank you.


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