Redcliffe Doorstop Interview

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Interviews

Tuesday, 6th July 2021

Redcliffe Doorstop Interview

with Jim Chalmers MP & Labor Candidate for Petrie Mick Denton

SUBJECTS: Labor’s candidate for Petrie; aged care; Morrison Government failing aged care workers; vaccination rollout; national quarantine facilities; home care; Government’s lack of advertising during the pandemic; Julia Banks; treatment of women in politics; Andrew Laming; preselection of LNP in Bowman.

MICK DENTON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PETRIE: Good morning, everyone. My name is Mick Denton. I am Labor's candidate for Petrie. And it's my pleasure to welcome you all to the Redcliffe peninsula this morning. Redcliffe is my home. It is where I've grown up, where I went to school, where I got my first job. It is where my wife and I bought our first home, just around the corner from here. It's been my home for most of my life. It's also home to the mighty Dolphins, who we are hoping to see in the NRL in the very near future. It's my pleasure to also welcome the Shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and my mate, Anthony Albanese, Labor Leader. It’s really just welcoming Albo back. He's been out Petrie way an awful lot over the years. He's definitely a good friend of Petrie. I think it helps when you're the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and you deliver the Redcliffe Rail Line here after we waited 130 years. So you'll always have a special part out here in Petrie. This morning, we've been talking with aged care workers and their difficulties in getting PPE and their difficulties in getting the vaccine and how some of them are still not vaccinated today. And I'd like to invite Albo up to talk a little bit more on that. So thank you, Albo.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Mick. And congratulations on being selected as Labor's candidate for Petrie. This electorate needs a Labor MP in a Labor Government. And I have a close association with this community. The Redcliffe Rail Line, first promised in 1895, but it took Federal Labor together with state Labor and Moreton Bay Council to make it a reality. And today, it is a reality, making a real difference to urban congestion here on the Redcliffe peninsula. Can I say also, it's great to be joined by Jim Chalmers, my Shadow Treasurer, and Senator Anthony Chisholm. And particularly today, we're very honoured to be joined by Donna, Deborah, Glen and Joseph. These are aged care workers. Aged care workers do an incredible job. They are our heroes. And they're particularly superheroes during the pandemic. They work with aged people. They work with vulnerable people. They make a difference to their lives each and every day. And they do it because they care. They don't do it for the money, that's for sure. They do it because they have compassion to their elderly Australians and they know that older Australians deserve dignity, respect and care in their later years. And they go out of their way to provide it. But they haven't been given the support that they deserve. The fact is that just one in six aged care workers today is fully vaccinated. And today we find out that Greg Hunt is saying that, 'Don't worry about those who provide support for our elderly Australians in home care'. Now there's about 180,000 of those who receive aged care packages for acute care. But there's about 800,000 receive some other form of home care. That might be meals, it might be gardening, it might be showering. So almost a million Australians. And those workers go from house to house to house. What could go wrong? It's so obvious. And common sense tells you that they need vaccinations. Aged care workers, as well, such as those we've met with this morning, here in Redcliffe, they could have been vaccinated at the same time as aged care residents. And they were told, most of them, 'Just go off and find your GP, organise it for yourself, you're on your own'. So much for ‘We're all in this together’, which was Scott Morrison's rhetoric. Now, Scott Morrison, at the beginning of this year, addressed the National Press Club. And there he said that there would be categories of people. And the categories of people in category 1A, right at the front of the queue for Australia, which was supposed to be at the front of the international vaccine queue, would be first. They'd all be fully vaccinated by Easter. And what we know is that aged care residents still haven't all been vaccinated and aged care workers have now been told, 'Oh, well, you've got to be vaccinated by September, have your first shot' as if it's their fault. Aged care workers have been desperate to get vaccinated because they understand the difference that it makes and they care about the people that they look after each and every day. And yet this Prime Minister, last Friday, 18 months into the pandemic, said that we're at the beginning of stage one, as if this had just begun. The truth is that this Government had two jobs this year: the effective rollout of the vaccine and national quarantine facilities. And it botched both. It botched the rollout of the vaccine by not having enough supply. It botched the rollout of the vaccine by putting all of its eggs in the AstraZeneca basket rather than in mRNA vaccines. It botched the rollout of the vaccine by not doing deals early enough, not doing substantial enough deals and not spreading the risk across a range of vaccines. And now we're at the beginning of stage one. It simply isn't good enough. And with regard to national quarantine, I visited, with Senator Chisholm yesterday, the Wellcamp site at Toowoomba that could be off and running 12 weeks after it was announced as a proposal last October. And yet still we're in a position whereby the Federal Government drags the chain when it comes to its responsibility for quarantine. I'll ask Jim Chalmers, the Shadow Treasurer, to make some comments as well.

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks very much, Albo. And thanks, Mick Denton in particular, not just for bringing us here together with these aged care workers but also for a lifetime of standing up for working people. We're really proud to stand with you, mate, as our candidate here in Petrie. We need to see Mick Denton elected here so you can continue that important work. When Scott Morrison is looking for a headline, he likes to talk about being on a war-footing against this virus. Well, if we're at war with this virus, then he's sending some of our most important soldiers off to war without armour. And that makes some of the most vulnerable people in our society, older people, more vulnerable than they need to. Scott Morrison's incompetence is putting older Australians at risk. It's as simple as that. Now today, when the Reserve Bank meets, we'll hear lots of commentary about the economy and the recovery. The truth is the economy is hostage to Scott Morrison's incompetence when it comes to vaccines and quarantine. The recovery is hostage to the Prime Minister's twin failures when it comes to those two important jobs. Now, if you think about the four-point plan that Anthony has for dealing with this virus - build purpose-built quarantine, roll out the vaccine, have an information campaign which is effective and have the capacity to manufacture our own mRNA vaccines - the issue here isn't just that the Prime Minister isn't doing all of those things well, the issue is that he's not doing any of those things well. We've heard in the last day or so that amongst all of the misinformation that's being spread about this virus, the Government has only gotten around to spending $32,000 on an online campaign to counter all this misinformation. This is a Government which spent more than a billion dollars of Australian taxpayers' money advertising, telling everybody how good they are, can only get around to spending 32 grand when it comes to countering misinformation on the internet. If you think about those four important tasks, the Government is not doing any of those things well. And that means that our economy, our communities, our workers and small businesses are hostage to the Prime Minister's inability to roll out the vaccine, build quarantine, have a proper information campaign and manufacture our own vaccines. Every Australian is paying the price for that incompetence, but particularly older Australians who these workers work with every day. We need the Prime Minister to get his act together. Australians are doing their absolute best to limit the spread of this virus and to get on top of things. The Government can't say the same thing. Australians have risen to the occasion during this pandemic. We can't say the same thing about the Government. And that makes vulnerable people more vulnerable than they need to be. 

ALBANESE: Thanks, Jim. We are happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, the Government's copped a fair bit of criticism for the rollout, especially in aged care, but there haven't been any deaths this year. Do you think they deserve any credit for the way that they have handled that?

ALBANESE: Well, the truth is that this week, we are still continuing to see breakouts of COVID with aged care residents and aged care workers, 18 months into the pandemic. Eighteen months into a pandemic in which aged care workers were supposed to be all vaccinated by Easter, and aged care residents. This Government has gone from being complacent last year in saying we were at the front of the queue for vaccines to actually being incompetent. It comes down to that. And the truth is that Australia is last in the developed world when it comes to fully vaccinating our population. Last in the developed world and not in the top 100 of countries. We can do better than that. Last year, Australians were magnificent. They all made sacrifices to look after each other. It was the best of the Australian spirit. But we've squandered that advantage, which is why last week we had 12 million Australians in lockdown. 

JOURNALIST: Do you think that vaccines should be mandatory for aged care workers?

ALBANESE: Well, it's pretty clear that there are a range of immunisations which are compulsory for workforce. But what we have here, of course, is a bit of a smokescreen from this Government. A Government that has failed to actually roll out the vaccine to aged care workers. That's the problem here. The problem here isn't the workers. The problem is that they haven't had access to the vaccines.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, with Julia Banks coming out raising some issues today with the Prime Minister and other members of Parliament, we've also got the likes of Andrew Laming, you've got a perception the Coalition isn't handling the situation well. But yet, when you look at the polling, you're 20 points behind with female voters. Any insight into why?

ALBANESE: When you look at this Government's record when it comes to gender issues, we have the issue of Brittany Higgins, who was the subject of a reported sexual assault just 50 metres from the Prime Minister's office, ministers knew, staff knew, including staff who work for the Prime Minister, people in Parliament House knew, and yet the Prime Minister allegedly didn't know for two years. And since then, we still await the various reports that have been established by the Prime Minister into what his own office knew, rather than him just asking them. We then have the circumstance whereby Julia Banks last night gave, I think, a damning indictment of her experience as a female MP in Scott Morrison's Government. A damning indictment of Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg and her treatment. A claim, of course, that Scott Morrison offered her an inducement in terms of a trip to New York in order to avoid the criticism that she was making. You have circumstances whereby this Government is failing when it comes to gender issues and failing to just understand it. We saw that with the refusal of the Prime Minister to walk out the front of Parliament House for the Justice 4 Women March. And enough is enough. This Government really takes women's issues for granted. This is a Government that began with one woman in their Cabinet, just Julie Bishop, and appointing Tony Abbott as the Minister for the Status of Women, and bookended that by appointing Barnaby Joyce to the committee looking after women's issues in the Cabinet.

JOURNALIST: But is it not concerning that you are 20 points behind in that polling with female voters?

ALBANESE: The fact is that the Prime Minister's standing amongst women voters is going down. And that's not surprising, given what we have with the issues around Brittany Higgins and now the recent statements of Julia Banks, of her experience as someone who should have been a great asset for the Parliament. She is someone of great experience who made the difficult decision to abandon a successful business career to advance a career in public life in order to make a contribution. What she found was that in the modern Liberal Party she was unable to do that, that she didn't get the respect or the treatment or the dignity that she deserved. And that's a great pity, because Julia Banks is someone who I have respect for. Julia Banks has called out her view of Scott Morrison. And she has described Scott Morrison as being menacing towards her. And her account of the conversations that she had should send a chill down the spine of women voters around Australia. Because this is a Government that doesn't represent their interests. This is a Government that doesn't treat women appropriately. And on gender issues, has an appalling record.

JOURNALIST: Supply is obviously an issue. Yes or no, do you think that aged care workers should be mandatorily vaccinated? 

ALBANESE: Well, they should have access to the vaccine. That's the problem here. I haven't met any aged care workers who are reluctant to get the vaccine. What I've met is aged care workers who are desperate to get the vaccine but have been unable to get it. And this Government are always looking for a distraction, always looking for someone else to blame, is pretending the aged care workers are reluctant. The workers who are here today were desperate to get the vaccine. And one of the things that they accounted to us very directly this morning is that they wanted to, not so much for themselves, but for the people who they care about. Aged care workers aren't like others. They actually provide a service. They care and love the people they look after. It is an act of love to look after someone in an aged care home, given the pay that they have to endure. And they have my utmost respect. And I have no doubt that if the vaccine was available, then more than one in six would certainly be vaccinated. I think they all would be. Because the experience that I have is that I'm yet to meet any aged care worker who's reluctant to get it. It's just Government incompetence that has meant that they're unable to do so. Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST: Just on the preselection in Bowman, when Nine News first started investigating Andrew Laming, he came out said that he was leaving politics. He also said he would step down from more parliamentary duties. Then we hear the Prime Minister say he wants a strong female candidate. Yet we see on the weekend that Henry Pike outs every female candidate to become the preferred candidate for Bowman.

ALBANESE: Well, Henry Pike is Andrew Laming 2.0. Same candidate. Andrew Laming harassed his own constituents and particularly harassed female candidates. He harassed them online. He took photos in parks. He took photos in workplaces that were entirely inappropriate. He then said he would stand down from all parliamentary positions. He then tried to secure a higher pension by standing as a candidate in the preselection after saying that he would withdraw from all parliamentary positions. Scott Morrison said that he'd send him off to counselling. That counselling consisted in an online couple of hours. It was a farce. And then we have Scott Morrison protecting Andrew Laming as a member of his Party room and protecting him as chair of an important parliamentary committee. And he won't even have a debate on the floor of the Parliament about whether he should continue in that position. Andrew Laming is a disgraced MP. And he's been replaced as a candidate by someone who has an appalling record on their views of women, including shaming them in online discussions that he has had. This guy was one of five candidates in the preselection. Four were women. They chose the bloke who's made appalling comments about women. And it's no wonder that Liberal National Party executive holders in the seat of Bowman have abandoned the Liberal National Party and have resigned. The President, the Secretary and the Treasurer. If people of Bowman want a candidate that they deserve, a candidate who will treat them with respect, then they should vote for Donisha Duff. She's an outstanding candidate. Someone who's worked in the community, someone who cares about the community, and someone who will respect everyone, men and women, old and young, in the Bowman community. They deserve better. And this is a slap down of the Prime Minister, who said that he wanted a female candidate to replace Andrew Laming. And I'll make this comment as well. That the Prime Minister appointed Amanda Stoker to advance the interests of women, we were told. And Amanda Stoker backed the only bloke in the field for this preselection. And not only did that, she didn't support any of the four women, including a local mayor, who put themselves forward to be the LNP candidate in Bowman. They've been taken for granted, the people of Bowman. And at the next election, they can ensure that they get a decent, proper representative of whom they can be proud by supporting Donisha Duff. Thanks.

ENDS

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Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road
MARRICKVILLE NSW 2204

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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