SKY NEWS WITH SHARRI MARKSON
SUNDAY, 25 JULY 2021
SUBJECTS: Vaccines; lockdowns; leadership.
SHARRI MARKSON, HOST: Let’s start with this never-ending lockdown in New South Wales, the case numbers aren’t moving, they’re well above 100 every single day. Jason, realistically, do you think we’re looking at an extended lockdown situation here?
JASON FALINSKI, MEMBER FOR MACKELLAR: Realistically, we are. The one thing I would say Sharri is what I’ve been saying for quite some time, and I think you have too, and Nick Coatsworth intimated in that excellent interview you had earlier on, which is that these are in very highly concentrated parts of Sydney. You have 35 local government areas in Sydney, 30 of them have four or fewer cases of COVID at the moment.
MARKSON: Catherine, Anthony Albanese says that, you know, lockdowns will be needed for as long as the government fails to fix the vaccine roll out, but we heard the Prime Minister say today that vaccines are no substitute for lockdown. What did you make of those comments?
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Well, the first thing, can I just say to all the New South Wales viewers, Victoria is with you in this. This is a really big fight and we need you to succeed and we know, having had the experience last year of such long lockdown, how difficult it is, but we really do want you to succeed. I know that all of us are really cheering for you as you go through this. I think it’s pretty evident that with the case numbers that you’ve got that it’s really that community transmission that’s the issue and I think it’s good to see that it’s been pegged back, but really trying to get that community transmission number down is where the lockdown potentially is going to need to be extended. Now what Anthony was talking about is that until we get our vaccine rates up to a certain level, and obviously the Doherty institute is doing some work on that at the moment, our appetite for risk just can’t be there because we know that risk is just too high in terms of deaths particularly amongst the most vulnerable in our communities. We’ve seen younger and younger people getting this Delta Variant and we’ve seen a 30-year-old, unfortunately lose their life just today in New South Wales. So really the issue is about how you balance that risk versus opening up and until we’ve got a reasonable level of vaccination, we just can’t afford to open up in the way that we’re seeing in other countries and that’s the problem with having such a short supply of vaccines at the moment.
MARKSON: And it’s why New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian appealed to the other states on Friday to give some of their vaccines to New South Wales, it’s something that even Bill Shorten agreed with today, have a look.
BILL SHORTEN, INSIDERS CLIP: Now I think in Victoria, and the rest of Australia, if there are unsubscribed, unscheduled vaccines, Sydney’s where the trouble is. So, we’re Australians first, we’re cheering our team on in Tokyo but here we’re in The Hunger Games and I think people are over the squabbling.
MARKSON: Jason is he right?
FALINSKI: We are Australians first, he’s absolutely right about that. But this outbreak is not going to be fixed by higher vaccines. This outbreak is going to be fixed by better compliance with the health orders. There are far too many people who are still in the community while they’re infectious. That’s why the health orders have worked in other parts of Sydney, but they haven’t worked in different parts of Sydney.
MARKSON: Jason, I’m sorry to interrupt but just to pull you up on that there, you know, the Delta Variant it does seem to be behaving differently to the original COVID strain last year, it’s harder to contain, locked down for four weeks now and it’s, you know, the numbers are still well above 100, 140-160 every day. So, you know, I have to disagree with you the situation, the way we get out of this is through vaccination. If we had [unlear] of the population vaccinated, we wouldn’t need to be in lockdown, we’d be living with the virus because there would be no or hardly any chance of hospitalisation or death, which is what the vaccine prevents against.
FALINSKI: Sharri, that’s an interesting point and I guess what I would point to is the figures in the eastern suburbs where these outbreaks originated. The health orders appear to have worked in terms of reducing community transmission to zero over the last week and a bit. The other parts, and this is the point you’re making which is very good point, which is when you look at the UK, the US, Israel, where you have fully vaccinated populations of over 60%, you still have positive cases of in the UK – 50,000, in the US over 30,000, and Israel just almost over 1000 per day. So, it allows you to live with the virus but it doesn’t stop outbreaks.
MARKSON: But I mean, Catherine isn’t the point that you still have cases, you still have infections if you’re vaccinated but it prevents the hospitalisation and death, and it’s exactly that overseas experience that so many Australians are looking at or watching. They’re seeing friends and work colleagues travel overseas, and they think, well, they can do that, because they’ve had a successful vaccination program.
KING: Absolutely and I think that’s where a lot of frustration is at the moment is that we spent the last 18 months doing everything we could to suppress the virus and particularly Victoria we’re in our fifth lockdown at the moment, Sydney is now experiencing what will be a longer lockdown than they have previously. We’ve had lockdowns in South Australia and other states, and that is the frustration is that this is the other part of the equation that the government unfortunately has really not stepped up with and got right and that is the vaccination program. Jason’s right in the sense that in this lockdown in Sydney at the moment, increasing vaccinations won’t fix it. You know, it’s great, people want to get vaccinated, people are frightened about what’s happening and so you want to try and make that available to people, that’s not necessarily going to end this particular lockdown, but it will end lockdowns into the future. I think that we’re all at the point now where we’re well over into the second year of this, and at some point, we’ve got to be able to say that we are opening up, and we are prepared to take the risk of that, but we can’t at the moment because the vaccination rate is just so low, and there has been a really major failure, frankly, of the Morrison Government.
MARKSON: Yeah. Catherine, just sticking with you for a minute, front page story in the weekend Australian yesterday saying that Bill Shorten has been touting for his job back, and speaking to colleagues saying that Biden was in his 70s when he became president, does Bill Shorten when his job back?
KING: Look, I think there is zero interest even from Bill in talking about this. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and frankly, and we’re not interested in talking about ourselves or leadership, the story and these sorts of things happen all the time, but I’ve got no interest in engaging in this. It’s just a nonsense to even be talking about this sort of stuff when we’ve got a pandemic raging.
MARKSON: It does look like the conversation has reared its head again because of the very real possibility that Federal Labor could now win the next election, because of the slow and problematic vaccine rollout, Jason?
FALINSKI: Oh well Sharri, I just don’t agree with you on that. I think that the vaccination program will be rolled out by the end of the year. That could see it couple of months behind the original schedule, we obviously had problems with Italians refusing to send us three and a half or 3.1 million doses, and we all know about ATAGI changing its advice. But the reason that people are talking about Bill Shorten coming back as leader, whether it’s Bill or other people, is because we don’t know what the Labor Party stands for. We don’t know if they do get elected, or when they go into the election, what they have on any policy in any area of our economy, in our lives, anywhere you go. Politics, like anything, abhors a vacuum, and at the moment that’s been filled by the possibility of Bill Shorten coming back as leader.
MARKSON: All right, Jason Falinski and Catherine King, thank you very much for your time this Sunday evening..
CATHERINE KING – TRANSCRIPT – TELEVISION INTERVIEW – SKY NEWS WITH SHARRI MARKSON – SUNDAY, 22 JULY 2021