Television Interview with Andrew Clennell – Sky News – Sunday 29 August 2021

SUBJECTS: Lockdown in Western Sydney; Morrison-Joyce vaccine rollout failure.
ANDREW CLENNELL, HOST: One person living with the harshest lockdowns in Sydney with his family and his community, is Shadow Housing Minister and the Member for Blaxland, Jason Clare. In this interview, he talks about the resentment in his community of being subject to tougher restrictions than the rest of the city and the case of one of his constituents who has managed to pass the virus to his nine month old daughter who was ill. WA Premier Mark McGowan says he will not agree to the national plan to open borders up with a 80% vaccination rate. Jason Clare also talks about the difficulty with that national plan, because the 80% vaccination rate opening up means introducing COVID outbreaks to some state. Jason Clare, thanks for joining us. Tell us about what the first week has been like in your Canterbury Bankstown area of curfews and only allowed out for one hour for exercise and the like.
JASON CLARE MP: The people here in my community are good, honest, hardworking people. They’re obeying the law, even if it’s not fair. I’ve said if we are going to have a curfew, it should be for all of Sydney, not just the Western half of it. But the police tell me that they haven’t issued very many tickets to many people. So, as you’d expect, people have heard the message loud and clear. They’re locking their doors at nine o’clock and aren’t stepping outside after.
CLENNELL: Well, is there resentment in your community because it’s only certain local government areas who are coping the curfew?
CLARE: There is a bit of that, people are telling me directly, that they’re sick of being treated like lepers and outcasts, made to feel like they’re doing something wrong here. A lot of people in Western Sydney are pretty angry that they’re being blamed for this. Western Sydney didn’t cause this nightmare. It was caused because Sydney was locked down too late. If it was locked down when the virus was in Bondi, people here in Bankstown wouldn’t be suffering now. It’s also happening because Scott Morrison was too slow to buy vaccines.
CLENNELL: Well, it is a fact though that the vast majority of cases are coming from those 12 LGAs. If you look at Thursday’s figure where 1000 was cracked, there were 403 from Western Sydney Local Health District, 309 from South-Western Sydney Local Health District, 17 in the entire Northern Sydney Health District. Isn’t that a fair enough argument that unfortunately tighter restrictions are required in your area and areas around it?
CLARE: Well, this is the epicentre of it. The lockdown has always been intended to suppress it, to bring it down. It seems like that’s not working, or at least not as well as it should. Cases just keep going up and up. The strategy seems to be to contain it, try and put a lid on this until you get everybody vaccinated. In a community like this where vaccination rates are going up, but they’re still way below other parts of Sydney, the message has got to be get vaccinated.
CLENNELL: What have you heard about the strains on the hospital system and about people catching COVID in your electorate?
CLARE: I was talking to a bloke today who got COVID. He’s 36, young bloke, fit as a fiddle. He runs every day. He’s a kickboxer. He spent two days in hospital last week, rushed to hospital by an ambulance, because of COVID. This is not the flu. If anybody thinks this is you know, this is the flu. It’s not. This is as contagious as Ebola. One person brings it into the house, the rest of the house is guaranteed to get it. But when it hits you can knock the crap out of you. When you’ve got young fit blokes being rushed to hospital that should tell you something. But not just him. His wife got it. His baby girl got it. She’s nine months old. I’ve got a little fella at home. My wife’s nine months pregnant. I can’t think of anything more terrifying than a little baby getting COVID and that little girl last week had diarrhea, she was vomiting, had a temperature, just laying around not herself. I think any parent out there thinking about that would be terrified by that. But that’s life here in Bankstown. That’s life here in Western Sydney at the moment.
CLENNELL: It is terrifying. You’re in front of people coming in and out of that clinic. I understand that’s for Pfizer injections. Tell us about the difference between AstraZeneca and Pfizer uptake in your area.
CLARE: There’s still a big difference. So, this is Bankstown PCYC. It’s been a Pfizer pop up vaccination hub now for about a week and a half. Every day they’re vaccinating about two and a half thousand people a day. But if we picked up the camera and went around the corner at Bankstown Sports Club, they’ve got an AstraZeneca hub. When I rang them yesterday, I said how many people were there? They said one. They’re vaccinating about 50 or 60 people a day. So that should tell you something. People are desperate to get the jab. They’re lining up, and they’re booking to do it. But they’re picking one vaccine over the other. That late night press conference that Scott Morrison did in April scared the crap out of people here in my community and right across the country, and we’re still feeling the impact of that today.
CLENNELL: Speaking of which, Scott Morrison has an 80% vaccination target to open up again, 70 and 80, in fact, and he says he has a national and safe plan, I guess, to get your community as well as others out of this. What do you make of that?
CLARE: Well, the sooner the better. There’s no one that wants to get out of lockdown any more than the people that I represent, we’re the ones that are suffering at the moment. We’ve got to get to 80% to get our life back to normal. But you’ve been around politics for a long time, you know what this is all about? It’s the oldest political trick in the book, if you’re under pressure, pick a fight with a Premier. That’s what Scott Morrison’s doing at the moment trying to distract attention from his own failures, stuffing up the vaccine rollout, which is why we’re in lockdown now and picking a fight about when lockdown ends. In fairness to Premiers whether they’re Labor Premiers in WA or Queensland, or Liberal Premiers in South Australia or Tasmania, I got to tell you, 80% means different things for different people. When we get to 80% here in Sydney, we get our life back. But when we get to 80% in other parts of the country, they get COVID. They’re living a normal life at the moment relative to what’s happening here. When we get to 80%, they got to make sure that their hospitals are up to scratch, and they’ve got all the systems in place because life will get tougher, and life will be different for them.
CLENNELL: Just finally, how are you feeling about the next election? Is it is Labor in the box seat now given this crisis, or people going to go to the incumbent during a crisis?
CLARE: To be honest, I haven’t really thought about the election other than to assume that it will be next year rather than this year. I don’t think the Prime Minister will want to hold an election when it’s fresh in everyone’s mind just how much he stuffed this situation up.
CLENNELL: What do you think Labor’s pitch is then, if you if you’re electing a Labor government, what are you electing that’s different to the incumbent?
CLARE: It’s two things. This Prime Minister and this government that’s now been in power for eight years doesn’t deserve another three years. They don’t deserve to be in government longer than John Howard, given all of the failures and all of the stuff ups they don’t deserve to be rewarded for letting Australians down when they needed it.
CLENNELL: But what’s your pitch? I mean, that’s, that’s sort of fine in terms of pointing out the government’s mistakes. What’s Labor’s argument for Labor to be in power and make a difference?
CLARE: So that’s one part of it, right? The government have made some serious mistakes. Then from Labor’s point of view, we need to develop a plan to build the economy back stronger and build the country back better than before COVID. People have been suffering seriously, no more than here in Western Sydney, and the people here in Western Sydney are going to take a while to get their lives back. When the first wave hit last year, there were more people still on JobSeeker after that first wave than many other parts of the country. Here in Western Sydney, it often takes a long time for people to get back on their feet. Western Sydney is going to need an economic plan to help us get back on our feet. It’s long been ignored by the Liberal Party. One of the big parts of what we need to do to win the next election is earn the trust and the support of people right across Western Sydney. It’s not a homogenous group. It’s not one place. Bankstown is different to Penrith, Parramatta is different to Campbelltown. We need to make sure that we’ve got the plan in place to help the people here in Western Sydney and right across the country, get back on their feet.
CLENNELL: Jason Clare, thanks for your time.
CLARE: Good on you, thanks Andrew.