JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
MONDAY, 6 SEPTEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Father’s Day; State Borders; National reopening plan; Queensland vaccination rates; Mark McGowan.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: This was Father's Day on the Queensland / New South Wales border - emotional, heartbreaking, and well just a little strange. Families literally reaching over the border barrier at Coolangatta for hugs, kisses, and a few tears. Tough. In Brisbane I'm joined by Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers, and in Sydney Triple M's Gus Worland. Good morning guys, nice to see you. I've seen a lot of things in my time but none of that made sense to me yesterday. Jim?
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: It was a pretty strange sign of the times wasn't it, when you think about those people on the Gold Coast reaching out over those barricades to hug their dad, and there's so many more Australians who couldn't even do that. So it is pretty confronting. We want to get this place opened safely and confidently as soon as we can responsibly do that, and I think that's another reminder of why we need to do that. I'm told that the police were really great along the border yesterday…
CHALMERS: … so a shout-out to the police from both sides of the fence for the way that they handled that as well.
STEFANOVIC: What does safe and responsible look like for Queensland and opening up that border?
CHALMERS: Obviously, we've got to get the vaccination rates up and in addition to that we've gotta make sure that the tracing's good, the quarantine, those are federal government responsibilities of course. We've got to make sure that we do something meaningful in terms of vaccinating the kids, we've got to make sure we don't leave behind vulnerable groups, the hospital system's got to be able to cope, all of those sorts of things are really important. But from a federal point of view I think vaccinations, particularly here in Queensland, we are behind in terms of the average of Queenslanders with the full vaccination, both doses. As Queenslanders we need to not be complacent. We need to get those rates up.
STEFANOVIC: It could be past Christmas Gus, what do you think?
GUS WORLAND, TRIPLE M: Yeah, I mean at the end of the day you want all those things in a perfect world to be able to happen, for us to be able to open up, but at some stage you've got to go you know what is the date and give people some hope so we can open up. And you know those heartbreaking emotional scenes yesterday, we don't need that, we don't want that at the moment. The rest of the world is opening up. And there's been a real I think I suppose the way the Queensland has sort of been keeping themselves with that ring of steel around it, the same as WA, is feeling like well I'll just get the vaccine done whenever I need to, I don't need to rush and get it done because we're just gonna keep it to ourselves. Well, we need to change that mindset. We need to sort of change the mindset to realise that no, no, we are going to open up on this date. And you need to be vaccinated for it to happen because the rest of the world is happening and so do we, we're well behind now. And let's not talk about the mental fitness issues that I bang on about all the time but they're still there guys. So let's not think for a moment that they're not.
STEFANOVIC: Here's the problem we keep coming back to these figures. New South Wales, they don't have any control of them. Disturbing figures in Sydney revealing 1 in 10 people will contract the virus and more importantly and disturbingly will end up in hospital. Jim, that's the problem isn't with other states?
CHALMERS: Oh, absolutely. The Doherty plan, the national plan, talks about the capacity of our hospitals to cope with rising numbers and I think that's a really important consideration. You speak to people in Sydney and around Sydney and I think one of the big fears that people have in addition to the obvious, is just whether or not there'll be a place for them and I think we need to make sure that when the numbers surge as they have in New South Wales that the hospitals can keep up. That's another really important part of what we're dealing with here.
STEFANOVIC: Gus, we know the hospital staff already in Sydney are being pushed right to the edge?
WORLAND: Absolutely and they're legends and I speak to them all the time, speak to them every day and so forth. But talking about some of the main thing on people's minds here in Sydney, I'm getting over 1,000 messages a day on my WhatsApp or Messenger, whatever it's called. They're telling me that they're not thinking about that at all, they're not thinking about whether or not there's gonna be a spot in bed for them if they get COVID. They're thinking about I want to get back to my life and a normal sort of life. And the fact is that a lot of people get COVID and actually won't end up in hospital as well. We never talk about that, we never talk about the positives of just actually getting back to some sort of real life and getting the hope again.
STEFANOVIC: Jim, what are you going to do about Queensland's slow vaccine rate? What is Annastacia planning on that because I mean she's talking now about 90%. At the rate you're going with that it'll be February / March next year?
CHALMERS: I'm a bit worried about the take-up here in Queensland, to be honest with you Karl. I think there is a risk of some complacency because we've done so well over the last couple of years at limiting the spread of the virus. There were some supply issues with the vaccine from a federal point of view, we need to get on top of that. We also need to make sure people can get an appointment. We're doing our part down in my neck of the woods in Logan. The Logan Entertainment Centre's taking walk-ins, both kinds of vaccine. But we're at about 34 and a bit per cent of Queenslanders with both doses, New South Wales is a bit over 40%, I think the national average is around 38%. So we do need to do much, much better here to get those vaccination rates up, so we can do as Gus said, which is to reopen safely and confidently and responsibly as soon as possible.
STEFANOVIC: You must be worried about that outbreak in your neck of the woods?
CHALMERS: A little. I took some comfort from the Premier's words yesterday. The case yesterday was a very close contact of the youngster who had COVID, it was the youngster’s mum. So that's better than it could have been, but again we can't be complacent about it, we've seen how this thing can gallop if it gets out of hand. And so I think all Queenslanders are a little bit nervous, but particularly just south of where I am at Beenleigh around there. A lot of people stopping me on the weekend out at community events expressing some kind of anxiety about that, we need to get on top of it.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah it's the working centre, much like the Southwest of Sydney isn't it. Can we take a minute for the truck driver who stopped by a nail salon? Any comment?
CHALMERS: He might've been a mate of yours Karl, do you run into him at the nail salon?
STEFANOVIC: I'm partial to it. I'm open to it. Gus, you?
WORLAND: Gentlemen it's 2021, glad you had your nails done!
WORLAND: And also whatever they call it around the feet, the feet massage!
STEFANOVIC: The pedicure, yeah.
WORLAND: All that stuff, it's just gold. Let's not knock it until you try it.
CHALMERS: Nobody could get paid enough to go near my feet, Gus and Karl!
STEFANOVIC: No, No. I don't mind it. I find that I’m very ticklish down there.
WORLAND: Me too, I love it!
STEFANOVIC: Hey just finally, it was a Father's Day card with a difference. Labor inviting all voters in Western Australia to send a personal message to Premier Mark McGowan calling him "State Dad" for WA. How good's that. Gus, cute or cringeworthy.
WORLAND: Yeah, it's cringeworthy. State Daddy. State Daddy.
WORLAND: He's done a good job for his voters obviously, but the rest of the world wouldn't mind having a crack at looking at the Margaret River region again and he's got to get that balance right there. But good on them, they're having a crack, social media will come and go in a day but yeah a bit cringy for me.
CHALMERS: Oh look, a bit of fun, but I admit I didn't send him one, I didn't fill it out.
CHALMERS: I think the voters of WA gave Mark his present in March with that big thumping parliamentary majority. They did that because he's doing a good job. I hope he had a good day, but most importantly I hope all Australian dads had an opportunity to have a good day yesterday. We hit Southport for fish and ships, it was wonderful. I hope you blokes had a great day too.
STEFANOVIC: You too, had a beautiful day, thanks so much for that. And we'll see you all very soon for a pedicure, three for one.
CHALMERS: See you there!
WORLAND: Looking forward to it, boys!