Television Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News – Monday 12 July 2021

MONDAY, 12 JULY 2021

SUBJECT: Sydney Lockdown

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Lets bring in live now the Labor frontbencher Jason Clare; in the area that is affected by this Southwestern Sydney. Jason, give us a sense of what the reaction’s been like in the community, not just where you live but also in neighbouring electorates like Chris Bowen’s. Are people heeding the advice, staying home and only going out for essential purposes?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: I think so Kieran. The streets are definitely quieter. The cops are telling me that there’s fewer people in the shopping centres, so that’s a good thing. When you zip into Woolies to get bread or milk you can see in people’s eyes that they’re anxious and they’re worried. Western Sydney people are good, honest, hardworking people. They listen to advice when you give it to them straight. And the Premier’s given some really strong messages over the course of the last few days about the importance of staying at home. And I think we’re seeing it on the streets of Western Sydney now.

The important thing to point out is it’s not Western Sydney’s fault that this is happening. We know why this is happening. The virus got out of quarantine, you had a driver who wasn’t vaccinated, it took too long to lock down Sydney and it’s taking too long to get the vaccine rolled out right across the country. And that’s why this is happening now, we’re paying for those delays.

GILBERT: The Prime Minister will be joining me a bit later this hour. And I guess the fundamental question is for him, for you. Did the Premier wait too long to call the lockdown?

CLARE: Look, I think even the Premier in her quieter moments would say yes. The lesson in other states is you’ve got to lock down hard and fast. This virus is spreading in Sydney quicker than the virus spread in Melbourne last year. Part of that’s because of the Delta variant which is so contagious.

There’s no use complaining about that now though, we’ve got to fix it. And the only way to fix it is for people to stay at home. That’s what we did in April last year, when we had numbers even higher than this after the Ruby Princess. That’s what we’ve got to do now.

The message that the Premier is giving is the right one, people have got to stay at home unless they’re going out to get food or medicine or exercise. If you’ve got the sniffles, go and get a test. And please, please do not leave the house to go and visit family or friends. Because if you do that, then you’re potentially going to infect them, you’re going to make more people sick and run the risk of more people dying.

GILBERT: Is there enough support for communities in your area and Southwestern Sydney more broadly, for multicultural communities? I’m talking language support and so on to get the message out there in language that is spoken regularly in households of your part of the world.

CLARE: I don’t think you can ever do enough of that. The fact is Western Sydney is the home of people from all around the world. We speak more different languages on the streets and homes of Western Sydney than anywhere else in Australia. And if you’re going to be effective in getting a message out that says stay at home, you can’t just say it in English, you’ve got to be able to say it in all the languages that are spoken here. There has been some good work being done by community leaders right now getting messages out, Members of Parliament are doing the same thing. But I just don’t think you can do enough Kieran, you’ve got to do more of that if we’re going to get that message through to everybody here.

GILBERT: That advertisement, the graphic ad of the woman struggling on the ventilator. You don’t need any language to communicate what’s going on there. Is that sort of bluntness required?

CLARE: I think that’s right. It’s a scary ad, it tells you that this is a deadly disease, that if you catch it, you’ll get sick, that you could die. If the purpose of the ad is to get people to stay at home, I hope it will work. You can’t just put it on Sky, or Channel Nine, or Channel Seven or Channel Ten. You’ve got to make sure you’re getting it through the mediums that people are following. And not everybody in Western Sydney is going to be watching Channel Nine, or Channel Seven or Channel Ten. So make sure you target it at the audience that needs to see it.

The bitter irony in that ad is that it tells us that this is a race. You’ve got to get that vaccine out to people as quick as you possibly can, otherwise this is what will happen to you. Right at the end of the ad it says get vaccinated. The problem is a lot of people can’t at the moment. If you’re a young woman in your 30s like that woman struggling to breathe in that ad, then you can’t even get the vaccine at the moment, at least not the one that’s recommended.

So, that ad tells us it tells us that what the Prime Minister has been saying now for months is wrong, this is a race. The ad contradicts everything that he has said in the past, and it paints a picture of the desperate need to get more vaccines here. We’ve got them coming, we need even more.

The big mistake the Prime Minister made last year is he didn’t order enough different types of vaccines. When other countries were ordering a bunch, we ordered two. In July last year Kieran, you had United States, the UK and Canada ordering Pfizer. We didn’t make our first order with Pfizer until November, and then only 10 million which is enough for 5 million Aussies.

We should have ordered more, and now today you’ve got revelations from an executive at Pfizer complaining that the Prime Minister hadn’t picked up the phone to talk to the Chair of Pfizer and the importance of that in getting more vaccine. My message to the Prime Minister is swallow your pride, pick up the phone. If that’s what it takes to get more, then do it, because we don’t have enough of the vaccine here right now.

GILBERT: What do you want to see in terms of economic support for businesses, for workers in New South Wales? Do you want to see a full JobKeeper 2.0?

CLARE: We’re being constructive here, not prescriptive. We’ve said if not JobKeeper, then something like it. The benefit of JobKeeper was that it kept the employer and the employee connected. We desperately need more than we’ve already got at the moment. The $325 cheque to workers when there’s been a lockdown for more than a week, that’s not going to cut it here. Frankly, that’s not going to cut it when you’re in lockdown for three, four, five or maybe even six or seven weeks, so more is needed.

It’s clear that Josh Frydenberg’s working on something now, we need it as quick as it possibly can be announced and rolled out; more importantly the government’s good at announcements, rolling it out. If it’s not JobKeeper, then something else.

JobKeeper wasn’t perfect let’s be let’s be honest about that Kieran. There was a lot of that money that went to businesses that made big profits and paid a lot of money to executives that didn’t need to be paid that through JobKeeper. I think $15 billion of JobKeeper went to companies like that. That’s the equivalent of 1000 bucks for every man and woman in Australia. If that hadn’t happened last year; $15 billion is nothing to sneeze at, then there’d be a lot more money for Josh Frydenberg to be helping the people of Sydney out right now.