ABC South East - Lockdown, GP Inquiry

ABC South East - Lockdown, GP Inquiry Main Image

14 September 2021


RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC South East – Breakfast with Simon Lauder

Tuesday 14 September 2021

SUBJECT: Lockdown, GP Inquiry

SIMON LAUDER PRESENTER: As you may have heard the breaking news this morning at seven o'clock, Australian businesses have been given permission to start arranging Coronavirus vaccinations in their work places, turning offices and warehouses into clinics. The business community has been pushing for access to the vaccine rollout, wanting to get staff vaccinated at work in a similar fashion to the process for the yearly flu shot. Vaccination providers sending nurses into workplaces will need to be accredited by the Federal Government and it's believed more than a million Australians could get their shot at work using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. So could this be something that will be utilized across the South East in the business community? Let's check in with the Member for Eden-Monaro Labor's Kristy McBain Good morning.


LAUDER: Thanks so much for joining us. What do you think of that the federal government accrediting workplaces to basically become vaccination clinics for workers?

MCBAIN: Well, we've seen Clubs New South Wales step up in parts of Western Sydney, where they've opened their doors as mass vaccination hubs to help community members and workers receive the jab. So I guess the possibility is there. We've been lucky to have so many businesses across the southeast already, with varying employees stepping up. And we know doctors and pharmacists, and our state run clinics are busy and booked out months in advance. It'd be great to try to get our vaccination levels up as quickly as possible, because I think everyone, especially in this part of the world, is really keen to get back to, to the community that we know and love.

LAUDER: How much pressure do you think is reasonable from employers? Is that it? Can I make it compulsory? Or should that be acceptable?

MCBAIN: Look, I think there is no doubt that in some industries, this vaccination should be mandatory. With the flu jab, for example, in the aged care industry, I think that is reasonable in the circumstances. But what we want to see is choice for people. Everyone should have the right to choose the medical treatment that they want. But there is no doubt in my mind that there are some industries where it is required and should be required to be mandatory. 

LAUDER: Any particular industries here in the southeast where you think it should be mandatory?

MCBAIN: Aged care is obviously one. My mom worked in the aged care industry for 15 years, and every year took her mandatory flu jab because she needed to feel confident in keeping those vulnerable residents safe from any viruses that she picked up. Obviously, there'll be an argument to do it for the childcare industry as well, when you look at also caring for the people at the other end of the age spectrum who can be quite vulnerable to viruses as their immune system is starting to build up. So caring industries require some level of vaccination.

LAUDER: And today marks one month since we went into lockdown in this part of the state. What's the latest? You're hearing about the knock on effects of that? So I guess on businesses, but families as well?

MCBAIN: Yeah, I think it's been very difficult for a lot of families right across the region. And it had pained me that there was a lack of understanding that a lockdown in Sydney was actually already having an impact on our region. The winter season on the snow is obviously one where businesses have got, 10-12 weeks - 14 weeks if you're lucky - a year to make really good money. And the traffic to the snow comes 70% from Sydney. So that was already having a huge impact on our region. There's been seven school holiday periods since the 2019/2020 bushfires. And in all of those school holiday periods, we've been impacted in one way or another and that has a huge flow on effect to businesses. Then we have the regional lockdown, which as you said just before was announced as a week, and we're now into week four. And I think there are a lot of people that are getting frustrated. They really do need some certainty as to when this will end. Not only businesses but families as well. And I think that it's been really difficult for some of our community, we’re big LGAs qnd for some residents, they've never seen a positive case of COVID in their town. For some, they've just received news of a positive sewage sample and for others there’s one or two cases. But these are big LGAs and there are some in our communities doing that really tough., I have no doubt that everyone is waiting with bated breath to hear when these  regional lockdowns will end.

LAUDER: Yeah, and I mean, there was still new cases emerging last week and the possibility of more certainly on the cards. I mean, is it possible for anyone to provide more certainty at this stage?

MCBAIN: No, I don't think there is. But I think this also goes to making sure that communication is clear and concise and transparent to people. We know that we're in an extended lockdown now, but there's not even a date given for when that might end for us, like there previously has been given dates. And I think people just want some certainty, a goal to aim towards. Everyone wants to do the right thing, but there has to be clear and consistent messaging to make sure that people understand what's happening around them.

LAUDER: And you have also been very busy. In terms of the GP Senate Inquiry meeting with GPs around the region. What is the latest that we need to be aware of with that Senate Inquiry?

MCBAIN: We’re very grateful that we've got up the senate inquiry, and I have no doubt that the wonderful work done in highlighting some of the GP shortages across the southeast has assisted us in getting that done. The GP senate inquiry is currently open, taking submissions. And I really want to make sure that there are some on the ground practical examples of how GP shortages across regions impacts our residents. We know every year through work done by the Rural Health Alliance, that regional people don't access healthcare for a variety of reasons. And some of that is the lack of being able to. That results in a $4 billion dollar budget saving to the government because regional people don't access health care. So what I want to make sure is that we’re getting those real world examples. You can log on to my website and make a submission directly to me, and I'll include it with a group of submissions that have already come in along with mine, or you can log on to the Australian Parliament House website and make a submission directly to the GP shortage inquiry.

LAUDER: I'm sorry, we're nearly out of time but just quickly, young people running out of time to be a part of a very interesting initiative the Raise Our Voice Australia campaign.

MCBAIN: Yeah, really important initiative,open to anyone that's 21 and under Put in a submission about what you want to see for the future of Australia with the ability for me to read that out in the next parliamentary sittings in October. Again, all the information is on my website or social media but want to make sure that we're getting young regional voices heard in Parliament House.

LAUDER: Fantastic and thanks for joining us this morning.

MCBAIN: No worries

LAUDER: Kristy McBain there, the member for Eden-Monaro.