Television Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News – Monday 9 August 2021


SUBJECT/S: Urgent need for more vaccines and more vaccine hubs in western Sydney; COVID-19 advertising in languages other than English.

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Let’s go live now to Bankstown. The Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness Jason Clare joins me from his seat of Blaxland. Jason Clare, thanks very much for your time. I’ve been hearing that the vaccine hubs, these pop-up vaccine facilities are in strong demand in your part of Sydney, particularly the one next to the Lakemba Mosque. Apparently, the lines have been hundreds long throughout the last 24-48 hours.

JASON CLARE MP: We’ve got some of those pop-up hubs where people can get vaccinated. The Lakemba Mosque is a good example of that. It’s open today, it was open yesterday, it’ll be there again tomorrow, but it’s not permanent. I’d like to see pop-up hubs like that be made permanent. We’ve got another one at Bankstown Sports Club that’s been open for about a week now. We’re getting more and more people turn up to that. We had 400 people through the Sports Club yesterday, you can’t go there for a beer but you can go there for a jab. We’re getting more and more locals turn up to get vaccinated. But as the Chief Medical Officer said yesterday, we need more pop-up hubs, more mobile hubs. We’ve got to take the vaccine to where people pray, where people play, where they work, where they study. That’s the key to getting my community vaccinated. As you know, Kieran, this is the centre of the storm here. About a quarter of the COVID positive results today come from here in the Canterbury Bankstown area. This is where the virus is running fastest. It’s where people are getting sick and dying and unfortunately, there’s a lot of people here who aren’t vaccinated at the moment, these pop-up hubs can really help.

GILBERT: Paul Kelly, the Chief Medical Officer, says that it’s crucial to make it as easy as possible for those hotspot areas. For you and this community that you represent, how much is it about access as opposed to hesitancy?

CLARE: It’s both. We don’t have enough of the vaccine, that’s pretty obvious. But there is hesitancy in the community. There’s a lot of people who are anxious, who are waiting. That press conference that Scott Morrison did in April about AstraZeneca late in the evening scared the crap out of the community. I think it scared the hell out of most of the country and we’re still feeling the after effects of that here. But if you get a pop-up hub at a mosque where someone prays, and they can see the people they pray with in the line getting the jab, then that helps to dispel some of that fear and reduce some of that hesitancy. We need to do the same at churches, you need to do the same at local schools. The council here has suggested that the local Bankstown velodrome, we just had the Tokyo Olympics, the velodrome for the Sydney Olympics is here in Bankstown, the council wrote to Greg Hunt back in May and said, let’s set up a hub there. Greg Hunt’s office wrote back and said, “No, we don’t have any plans to do that at the moment that we might change our mind if things change”. Well, things have changed this, this is the hottest spot in the country at the moment. If we can get more of these pop-up vaccination places, then you can help protect more people here in the local community.

GILBERT: What about the language question? We’ve discussed it before, is there enough support in terms of the getting these messages across, countering disinformation in the language that people speak at home?

CLARE: Now, the short answer is no. This has been a massive fail by the federal government and the state government. The fact that we’ve had five or maybe more people die in their home is a good example of that. Brad Hazzard made the point a week or so ago that people are turning up the hospital desperately ill, they even had someone bring a dead body to the hospital. He made the point that we’ve got to get the message out to people in different languages. Well, he’s right about that but governments aren’t doing it or at least not as much as they need to in a place like this, which is desperately, dangerously exposed at the moment because there are fewer people here vaccinated than many other parts of the country. The language people are speaking at home isn’t English. 70% of people here speak a language other than English at home. So, you’ve got to get that message to them in the language that they’re speaking at home. And they’re not tuning into Sky or Nine or Seven or ABC or Channel 10. They’ll often be tuning into another bulletin or a bulletin via satellite dish, or they’ll be tuning into SBS Radio. Now that’s an asset that Scott Morrison has that he hasn’t used. SBS Radio broadcasts in 70 different languages and reaches 3 million Aussies a week. We should be putting ads on SBS Radio. It’s not the only thing that we should do but if you’re putting information out in different languages that people are hearing in their home, people are more likely to know how dangerous this is, and they’re more likely to go out and get the jab.

GILBERT: Simon Birmingham said on Sky News earlier in the day that much of the rest of the nation will remain cut off to Sydney for most of the rest of the year. Is that, it’s obviously not an optimistic forecast, but is that a realistic one?

CLARE: Well, things are just getting worse and worse here. The lockdown was supposed to suppress the virus, that’s what we’re told is that you lock down and it pushes the number of cases down but that’s not happening. The number seems to go up and up every day. I heard the Premier last week, describe it as containment, like they’re trying to contain the virus until enough people are vaccinated. It seems like the only way out of this nightmare is to get everybody vaccinated and we just don’t have enough people vaccinated at the moment. As I said, the numbers are low here compared to the rest of the country. But the whole country is really low, 16, 17%. Scott Morrison says we’ve got to hit 70% before we’re safe, before we can get out of these repetitive lockdowns. Kieran, we should almost be there now. Remember, at the start of the year, he promised that we’d all have access to the vaccine by October, that’s only a couple of weeks away and we are miles away from that. Why? Because he just didn’t do his job last year and buy enough vaccines.

GILBERT: Jason Clare joining us live from Bankstown today. Appreciate it.

CLARE: Good on you. Thanks mate.