28 June 2021



MONDAY, 28 JUNE 2021
SUBJECTS: Greater Sydney lockdown; vaccine rollout.

DANICA DE GEORGIO, HOST: Michelle Rowland, thank you for joining me. Let’s start with the Sydney lockdown. How do you think Gladys Berejiklian has handled the outbreak so far?
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, I think firstly to my fellow Sydneysiders: we all need to do the right thing, we all need to play by the rules here and make sure we mask up to keep ourselves and our families safe. I think it is clear here – it’s on the public record – that this unfortunately has been getting worse over the past week or so, and the past day or so in particular. This decision has been made. She has stated this is based on medical advice, and the fact is that we are where we are. We have to deal with it.
DE GEORGIO: Are we no longer learning to live with the virus? We’ve got border closures across the country. If we can’t get our internal borders right, will we ever open up to the rest of the world again?
ROWLAND: As you say, we were always told that the key to opening up domestically and internationally was vaccination. That is woefully inadequate in this country. It beggars believe that we only have some 4% of Australians who are fully vaccinated right now. We are going into winter, and it is a sorry state of affairs if that was supposed to be our trajectory. We haven’t got vaccination right, and this is squarely at the foot of Scott Morrison; as is the failure to provide adequate quarantine services.
DE GEORGIO: Could this lockdown in Greater Sydney have been avoided even if our vaccine rollout was on target, or is this just inevitable that we are living in a pandemic and the consequence of this means lockdowns?
ROWLAND: Well, there’s a lot there. We need to unpack those components. The first is that the vaccine schedule has really fallen away. I am deeply concerned about the level of vaccinations in Sydney, given we are going into winter. I registered on the ServiceNSW app when it first became available. I haven’t been able to get my first vaccination yet. My husband has had both his Pfizer shots. So, that is the first item on my to do list today, and I encourage everyone to get out there and get vaccinated.
The second point is that these Governments, both at a Federal and State level, have been highly critical of other states that have gone into lockdown. Only days ago, Scott Morrison was praising the NSW Premier for not going into lockdown. Now, I accept that decisions are made on the best health advice, but decisions are made here by politicians as well. We as Sydneysiders are bearing the consequences of that, and as I said, we are where we are. We are all learning to deal with it.
DE GEORGIO: Do you think we are at a state where the vaccine should be mandatory for aged care workers and frontline workers?
ROWLAND: I think there are arguments that have been made – very cogent arguments – by health professionals as to why that should be the case. I’ve even seen reports that the patient zero in this case wasn’t wearing a mask and wasn’t vaccinated, and that aviation workers and people in those sorts of categories should have been prioritised. These are questions that need to be answered. I think the public want some accountability and some transparency here.
DE GEORGIO: Michelle Rowland, we have to leave it there. Thank you for joining me this morning.
ROWLAND: Pleasure.