12 July 2021



MONDAY, 12 JULY 2021

SUBJECTS: Greater Sydney lockdown; Federal Government’s advertisement campaign; vaccination rates.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Michelle, thanks for your time this morning. First of all, what sort of calls are you getting into your office from your constituents? 
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: We’re getting a lot of inbound calls from small businesses who have been very badly impacted and want to know what sort of package is being assembled to help them out. There are also people calling trying to get vaccinated and want additional information about how to make that happen. Our outbound calls have been particularly interesting compared to this time last year or 18 months ago. Initially, our outbound calls were to older people who were hungry for information or were very scared or concerned. I’m finding our outbound calls to people are showing people are scared and concerned and wanting information about vaccinations regardless of their age. That’s the general tenor that’s going on throughout our suburbs.
STEFANOVIC: What sort of help do you think is needed for these businesses? You’ve got to assume this lockdown will be extended. Epidemiologists – quite a lot of them have said on our show and on various shows – that at least another four weeks of lockdown is going to be required here.
ROWLAND: I’m afraid all of us are expecting the worst in this situation unfortunately. Assistance needs to go to not only small businesses who are employers, but there’s also a large number of sole traders out there who are small businesses. Some of them are not just in retail – some of them are service providers. I think it needs to be whatever combination of wage subsidies to keep those businesses connected to their employees, but also people who are sole traders who have lost their livelihoods. You think of people in the services sector who are in events management to people who work in gyms or other places that are just closed now. It is a really terrifying situation for them.
STEFANOVIC: I spoke to your colleague Ed Husic on the show last Friday about a double standard he was seeing in his electorate and parts of Western Sydney when it comes to the police crackdown that he believed was different to what say suburbs in the east of Sydney were experiencing. Do you share the same views where you are?
ROWLAND: I think we saw the kinds of activities that were happening – and by the way, no one is disputing the need for NSW Police and we thank them for doing a great job – but I think the double standard perceptions are that when all this was happening in the eastern suburbs, we didn’t see 30 police cars out on the street. In hindsight, could that have been something that might have contained the outbreak? Who knows. What we saw were beaches there that looked like Ibiza!
STEFANOVIC: They were there early on. You remember early on in the outbreak and in the pandemic that police were moving people away. They were driving their cars up to people in the east that were sitting in the park and moving them on. I remember at the time that people thought that over the top. Do you believe that’s not the case now?
ROWLAND: I think in part perception is everything. The police spokesperson – Mr Worboys – who has been going out there said it quite eloquently, which is that we all want to work together. That was a very important message being sent, not only through community leaders, but also people want to do the right thing. That is something that needs to be emphasised. The tone of the Chief Medical Officer and Mr Worboys has changed in the last few days and I think people have been taking much more notice of that. When you see those numbers and you see the number of people in ICU and their ages, that drives it home to people that are all in this together and we all have to do our part.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, and those numbers in western parts of Sydney are certainly taking off. What do you make of the ads that were rolled out yesterday?
ROWLAND: I think it’s important to emphasise this is a serious disease and it can be fatal. It appears, particularly with the Delta strain, it is potentially fatal for people who are younger. We were initially getting into the view that this was something that affected older people, but I think this does emphasise that this can affect everyone.
The other thing I note is that advertisements do not increase the supply of vaccines, and that’s the key issue here. I was on this program a fortnight ago trying to get an appointment to be vaccinated. I have finally gotten an appointment tomorrow for my first jab, and that’s not for want of trying. For all those ads, it is not increasing the supply for those vaccines, and that needs to be the priority of Scott Morrison at the moment. We were always told that vaccination rates were the key to getting back to normality. We heard that from the NSW press conferences yet again, and yet we don’t have enough supply to be able to achieve that.
STEFANOVIC: Michelle Rowland, thanks for your time.