Television Interview with Peter Stefanovic – Sky News – Tuesday 18 January 2022


SUBJECT: Scott Morrison’s incompetence.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Unions are threatening to take strike action unless employers vow to provide free rapid antigen tests to their staff. That’s as a last resort, according to Sally McManus. Joining me live now is Labor MP and Shadow Minister, Jason Clare. Jason, good to see you all ramped up for another big year. First of all on this issue, do you support it?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: I don’t think anyone wants to see strikes, do they? But the fact is, you’ve got businesses at the moment that aren’t properly functioning, because they don’t have workers coming to work, because they’re crook. You got other businesses out there that don’t have any customers because people are afraid to go out. I saw it in Bankstown yesterday, in my own neck of the woods, the place is like a ghost town. You’ve got other workers who are struggling to come to work because they can’t get a R.A.T test.
Here’s a story for you. I heard a story about a nurse who works in a Sydney hospital, who works in a transplant ward, she’s working overtime because some of her colleagues are crook. She needs a R.A.T test to be able to work there. They’ve run out of R.A.T tests at the hospital and the hospital has said that they’ll buy some for her, but she’s got to pay for it. That’s the sort of chaos that we’re dealing with at the moment, mate, and if you had a real Prime Minister, who was prepared to take responsibility for these things, he’d bring the unions and the employers together and work out a plan to fix it. He caused this mess, Scott Morrison caused this mess by not buying enough R.A.T tests in the first place, not preparing properly, and he needs to fix this mess.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, but as for Sally McManus’s pitch to have employers provide staff with free R.A.T tests, is that workable? Is that reasonable? Do support that?
CLARE: Here’s an idea: the government could buy a stockpile and provide it to Australian workers. That’s what you’re seeing in the UK. That’s what you’re seeing in the United States. The Poms have bought 1.7 billion R.A.T tests, the Americans have bought a billion and providing it to the American people for free. Here, people are going from chemist to chemist to chemist to chemist desperately trying to find one of these bloody tests. It’s chaos out there. People are angry because of it.
If we knew that this was going to take off like wildfire, and we did, we were told before Christmas, that this was going to take off, then what the government should have done, what the Prime Minister should have done, is put together a plan to prepare for it. Make sure that there were places for people to get tested, instead of having people line up for hours in the blazing sun waiting to find out if they had Covid or not, make sure there were enough testing kits so people didn’t have to drive around suburbs or from one part of town to the other to try and find a test, and make sure that businesses had what they needed to keep functioning. They didn’t, and as a result, you’ve got people now having to go from Coles or Woolies to Aldi to try and find meat or fruit and vegetables. It’s like a third world country out there. No wonder people are fuming.
STEFANOVIC: So, the onus shouldn’t be on business here? From your answer there, I’m guessing that you’re that this is a bridge too far.
CLARE: What I’m saying is, businesses aren’t going to be able to operate properly, the economy is not going to function properly if people can’t come to work. When you’ve got the virus spreading like wildfire like it is, people need these tests to tell them whether they’re crook or not, whether they can come back to work.
STEFANOVIC: The point is, who pays for it?
CLARE: I don’t mind if it’s the business that steps up to look after their workers so they can get back to work, or whether it’s the government that steps up and shows a bit of leadership here. But unless somebody does, the economy is not going to get back on its feet. The problem we’ve got here is a government that just refuses to take the lead here. That just blames the states for all of this. That says it’s the state’s job to do all of this. If there were gold medals handed out for dodging responsibility, Scott Morrison would look like Mr. T at the moment. But if he really cares about making sure that people can go to work and can get back to work, then I think he should be getting the employers and the unions together and sorting the mess out that he’s created.
STEFANOVIC: New South Wales Government is proposing two weekly R.A.T tests for kids. Are you comfortable with that?
CLARE: I’ve got a little bloke who’s about to turn up to his first day of kindergarten in two weeks so that’ll be fun encouraging him to do those tests. Mate, two weeks. Two weeks until school starts and we still don’t know what the bloody hell is going to go on here. There’s no plan for how schools are going to work. We still don’t have enough R.A.T tests in the country to actually make this work. And the same story you just talked about says that in some schools, parents are going to be told to come in and supervise kids because they expect 20 per cent of the teachers to be off crook. What a joke! This is just more chaos. It’s not like we didn’t know that school was coming back. As I said before, if we knew that this virus was going to take off like wildfire, and we did, we were told this was going to happen, then Scott Morrison and the government should have put in a plan to deal with this last year. They didn’t. We’re dealing with the consequences of that now. People are suffering, businesses are suffering, you’ve got hospitals haemorrhaging, aged care centres which are effectively locked down and supermarket shelves that are empty. It’s worse than incompetence. It’s just plain neglect.
STEFANOVIC: Just a final one on Novak Djokovic, Jason. He’s back home now in Serbia but the scandal rolls on. There’s more and more pressure now on the Tennis Australia boss for providing misleading information towards the tennis stars as they came out here. Should he keep his job?
CLARE: I’ll leave that to the tennis experts to make that decision. The bloke shouldn’t have been in the country in the first place. Whether it’s threats of strikes, or how schools going to come back or this, there’s a common theme here. And it’s incompetence. Why did it take three goes to punt this bloke in the first place? He shouldn’t have been allowed in in the first place. To be honest, I don’t give a rats about a millionaire tennis player who refuses to get vaccinated. I’m more worried about the millions of Aussies who did the right thing and got vaccinated and now they’ve got Covid and they can’t find a R.A.T. The problem here, Scott Morrison’s incompetence, which has meant that Aussies are suffering at the moment. Summer should have been a time where most Australians got a chance to rest up and relax. Instead, you had hundreds of thousands of Aussies forced to queue up, line up, or go from chemist to chemists to chemist to try to find one of these bloody things. It just goes to show that this bloke is not up to the job, and I think more Australians are working that out by the day.
STEFANOVIC: Jason Clare, appreciate your time. Talk to you soon.