RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC South East NSW, Interview with Keira Proust
Tuesday, 13 June 2021
SUBJECT: VACCINE ROLLOUT TO REGIONAL AREAS
SIMON LAUDER, PRESENTER: I guess it's safe to say, generally vaccinations are not happening as quickly as we'd like in Australia. And that can be particularly hard for our regional communities, especially with how close we are to the border here in south east New South Wales. It's a frustration shared by the Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain and she spoke to Keira Proust, earlier this morning about the roadblocks in the vaccination rollout.
KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: I've been contacted by some GPs who applied to be part of the Pfizer program, who have been knocked back, which I think is extraordinary. If we have GPs willing and able to vaccinate our regional populations, then they should be given the vaccine to do so. I think the idea of pharmacy hubs is fantastic. But at this stage, there's only one in Eden-Monaro, which is in Braidwood.
KEIRA PROUST, JOURNALIST: What are some of your concerns with how far some people are having to travel as well to get a vaccine and how long they're also having to wait for an appointment at the moment?
MCBAIN: It's months some people are asking or being asked to wait to receive a vaccine. I know in Queanbeyan when the new hub opened, they're being given appointments for October and November. We're in the middle of July now. And there’s people wanting to get vaccinated, then they should be able to do so. I've spoken to many local doctors, and many people across the electorate who are all keen to be vaccinated, doctors who are keen to get people vaccinated and we are still waiting on supply of those doses into the region.
PROUST: What about for some of our more vulnerable community as well, we've heard that there's still people who are in the disability sector and aged care sector who are still waiting and not vaccinated yet, I suppose. What's your concern about these very vulnerable parts of our community that are without vaccine still?
MCBAIN: Look, I think it was a good idea to have a phased rollout where you had phase 1a and 1b which back then the most vulnerable populations across the country. The problem we've seen, though, is that we still have people in phase 1a who are yet to be vaccinated. And that's the real problem, that there are aged care workers and disability care workers who are still unable to get vaccinated. There was a phased program for a reason and I think at this stage, the government needs to be ensuring that people in those initial stages, who are classified as vulnerable or working with vulnerable people or frontline workers, as they've been called, should be at front of the queue to get those vaccines.
PROUST: What are you calling on the federal government to do at the moment in terms of being able to speed this rollout across the area?
MCBAIN: Essentially, the rollout does need to be sped up. It needs to focus on those vulnerable populations in phase 1a and 1b. But it also needs to understand that there are people who are keen to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Supplies need to be brought forward. And we've just seen, obviously another blow to our local economy with that border being put in place, the hard border with Victoria does allow border bubble residents to still go between East Gippsland and the Bega Valley and the Snowy Monaro. But we still rely on a lot of tourists that come up from Metropolitan Melbourne and that hard border is yet another blow to our local economy after what has been a pretty stressful 18 months.
PROUST: I have spoken to some local businesses and a few have raised that they want Job Keeper to be reinstated. What's your position on those calls?
MCBAIN: Look, I think there is no doubt that the federal government needs to listen to communities, needs to listen to the business sector and needs to understand the continued issues that the lack of vaccine rollout and leaks from quarantine have on communities such as ours. If they’re calling for reinstatement of Job Keeper or some other program because of these lockdowns, then the government should be listening.
LAUDER: That's the Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain speaking to the ABCs Keira Proust and we'll have more about the local vaccine rollout right after this.