Main Image

05 July 2021



MONDAY, 5 JULY 2021 

SUBJECTS: Vaccine rollout; quarantine.

LAURA JAYES, HOST: First of all I just wanted to ask you about something that just came out of that media conference with Annastacia Palaszczuk talking about two quarantine facilities that are now needed in Queensland and she wants to get rid of hotel quarantine altogether. What do you think of that idea? Couldn’t these hotel facilities at least be used for vaccinated Australians coming home?

KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE & SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY: Laura, good to be with you and here we are in Sydney’s lockdown which is really Mr Morrison’s lockdown because we had a real failure this year to roll out the vaccine and to build fit for purpose national quarantine. Now when it comes to hotel quarantine, we know that it can't contain the virus it's a leaky system we have 26 leaks from hotel quarantine, and it really does point to why we need fit for purpose national quarantine. I mean, I've said this before, if you want to bring a horse into Australia, it's going to go into a safe nationally run quarantine system, if a person  comes into Australia, they're going to go into a leaky hotel that can’t contain the virus. Now when it comes to people returning overseas and particularly for those who are unvaccinated but more, we also know that this delta strain is more contagious. We know that people who are vaccinated can still carry the virus and transmit it to others. The reality is, hotel quarantine is proving not to be fit for purpose which is why we need a rapid and quick expansion of a national fit for purpose system and I'll just say this. I am pleased to see the Queensland Government working with the federal government on the facility, that’s been proposed for Brisbane airport, I would be really pleased to see Mr. Morrison and his government work again with Queensland on that facility that's proposed at Wellcamp airport at Toowoomba and later on today our leader Anthony Albanese will be in Toowoomba to highlight the need for a faster expansion of fit for purpose national quarantine.

JAYES: Yeah fit for purpose quarantine is one thing, and yet you've demonstrated the need for that because of the Delta strain but abolishing hotel quarantine altogether in Queensland, which I think they're only going to be taking about 300, people a week, if they are that vaccinated, Australians, wouldn’t you keep that in place so you could get more out of these stranded Aussies home?

KENEALLY: You know, Laura, we should have been picking up all the suggestions that you're making here that we're also making Jane Halton’s report last year, Scott Morrison commissioned his own hand- picked expert Ms Jane Halton to do this review of hotel quarantine, and she said we need all options on the table. She said then that we should be looking at things like home quarantine, and particularly for people who've been vaccinated. She said that hotel quarantine was not fit for purpose in the long run for this virus and she urged the Commonwealth then to put a range of options on the table including expanding national quarantine facilities to bring the stranded  Australians home before the northern hemisphere winter. Those were Jane Halton’s words. Mr. Morrison completely ignored that report, he claims wrongly, it's just BS when he says it in Parliament, that they implemented it, they do not, they did not now, again, you know, we hear from Mr. Morrison last week, that they're looking at home quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers, but we know that the Department of Health has admitted that nobody is actually collecting data about the vaccination of the people who are travelling to Australia. And so again we have a Prime Minister who loves an announcement, but he's so light on the detail and is never there for the follow through.

JAYES: Okay, listening to that argument there, you're not the only one to have made it, absolutely, but you've also been campaigning very strongly to get Aussies home, and we heard from Gladys Berejiklian that she's so disappointed that these flight numbers are being capped, she says hotel Quarantine is working well and its states like Annastacia Palaszczuk’s in Queensland, Dan Andrews in Victoria that have cut these caps are you disappointed that they’ve done that?

KENEALLY: What I'm disappointed by is that we haven't had what Jane Halton recommended last year, an expansion of fit for purpose of quarantine not hotels but national set up quarantine that’s there to contain the virus to get the stranded Aussies home. Let’s not forget Laura that is what Jane Halton recommended. The Prime Minister promised he’d have all these stranded Aussies home by Christmas. He did not, the fact that people are stranded overseas, sits squarely on Scott Morrison's head, and the fact that we don't have enough quarantine facilities sits squarely on this commonwealth government, who is responsible for quarantine under the Constitution. And by the way, you know, it's fine to point to outbreaks in Queensland and Victoria, but as we said at the top of this interview Laura, you and I are both here in Sydney as a result of outbreaks of Coronavirus from Hotel quarantine that has led to community transmission community transmission in the double digits here in Sydney and across parts of New South Wales as we speak, I mean we heard from Mr. Morrison this week there's a supposedly a four stage plan, it's one, it's not a plan, it's a plan to have a plan. But secondly, under that plan lockdown is supposed to be the option of last resort. For millions of Australians today we know the only option on the table is lockdown, and that is because Mr. Morrison has not secured enough vaccine supply and has not built enough fit for purpose national quarantine facilities. 

JAYES: I’ve heard some epidemiologist say lockdown isn't the only option at this point but yes, I get to the broader point that you're making, but if I could just ask you one final question, we were told July would be a huge ramp up in Pfizer well, week 1, it’s July we’re only getting 300,000.  It will go to 500,000 next week and then a million in the third week and the fourth week alone. Can you understand why those can't be brought forward, I mean, we've bought into the Kovacs facility should the government perhaps be leaving on the Biden administration to send us some in their cohort more quickly so we can get this done?

KENEALLY: Well maybe you should be in charge of the vaccine rollout. These are ideas that perhaps should be coming from the federal health minister, be coming from the Prime Minister. You know they promised us 4 million Australians vaccinated by the end of March, didn't happen. They promised us that all Aged Care Workers vaccinated by Easter, didn't happen. We’ve got an outbreak right nowhere in Baulkham hills here in Sydney in an aged care facility due to unvaccinated staff. Two thirds of the staff there are unvaccinated. We’ve now got five residents, who've got COVID You know, they promised us that we would have all Australians vaccinated, who wanted to be,  by the end of October, that is not going to happen and that is because we do not have enough supply. You know, understand this, all the promises about JPs getting vaccine in July, that's great, but unless we have supply, it just doesn't matter. And so that sits again with Mr Morrison who didn’t do enough deals last year, didn't get five or six deals which is World's Best Practice put all these eggs in the AstraZeneca basket. You know, now we are in a circumstance where we, in Australia, don't have the herd immunity, thank goodness, I'm sorry we don't have the natural immunity, I should say, thank goodness, because we were able to contain the virus but countries like the UK and the US do, and they've had an effective rollout of the vaccine so for us, my point is the vaccine role is so much more important than it is anywhere else because we don't have that natural immunity in the community, and that's why it's just so frustrating that people who want to get vaccinated simply can't get enough of because the doctors don't have enough supply, they can't get appointments at these mass vaccination hubs and people just simply can't get vaccinated, I know they're frustrated and I hear them calling out my office and MPs too around the country and until that's fixed until Mr. Morrison figures out how to fix his bungled vaccine roll out we're going to be stuck in this in this, this problem of there’s demand but not enough supply. 

JAYES: Okay, Kristina Keneally thanks so much for your time.

KENEALLY: Thank you.