DOORSTOP INTERVIEW – Parliament House
Wednesday, 4 August 2021
SUBJECT: COVID-19 vaccines and incentives
KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Thank you for being here today. And can I just say, here we are, again. The people of Eden-Monaro are entirely sick and tired of this Prime Minister's promises and his lack of delivery.
We now have only 18% of Eden-Monaro vaccinated. We've now got vaccines that have been taken from our region and given to Sydney. And we understand that is a very difficult choice for Sydney to be doing this to the regions. But this the blame, the frustration, the anger of my electorate, is solely directed at Scott Morrison who has failed, failed to get us vaccines and failed to understand that the regions are vulnerable.
In my electorate, we bought a Victoria and the ACT. We are now dealing with our third border closure. We're now dealing with a ski season that is at 25% capacity. In one week alone, one of my real estate agents had $1.8 million of bookings cancelled. The flow on impacts to the rest of the economy is huge. And as I said, that's one provider. We have dealt last year with a 50% capacity at the snow. We are at 25% this year.
Last year, during summer was the second summer on the coast where we were without tourists because of the Northern Beaches outbreak and a border closure. Anyone who doesn't think this vaccination rollout is a race is simply kidding themselves.
The region's need assistance.
And this Prime Minister has had 20 months to plan a vaccination roller.
He’s had 20 months to get right, the incentives and the programmes to make sure that our businesses and our communities can continue to thrive.
20 months of failure
20 months of over promising and under delivering
20 months, where regions like mine will have continued to suffer and will continue to suffer unless this government gets right, the vaccine rollout and quarantine.
But no one in my community is holding out hope. Because for 20 months that have been let down continuously by this government.
JOURNALIST: Are any of those businesses managing to get any of the support?
MCBAIN: One of the hardest things for businesses right now is not that there is no support available. There is. But it takes significant time to go through grant processes. The support isn't enough. There is no proactive policy that allows businesses to try to pivot and deal with what they need to. One of the easy ways that support could be provided right now is to waive PAYG for the quarter or defer it. But no, we aren't saying that proactive policy from the government because there is no understanding of the impact of the slow vaccine rollout and the failures of quarantine to regions like mine.
JOURNALIST: Supply of Pfizer isn’t due to ramp up until September, are you worried about how vulnerable people will be for the next month?
MCBAIN: I'm worried about how our communities will be vulnerable for times to come. We have an older population. We also have tourism, which is one of our mainstays across the economy. And right now we are seeing tourism businesses fail.
But when the community starts to open up and travel again, we are behind vaccination rates in the community. So if there are outbreaks, where is it going to happen? It's going to happen in communities where the vaccine rollout has been slow, which means it will happen in the regions, particularly tourism regions.
And then what? We don't have a hospital capacity that is set up to deal with an outbreak. We have no ICUs anywhere in my electorate. What happens then? It is not only hours to get to a hospital that is better equipped, but it's also in many cases hours to get to a vaccine hub for my community.
So once again, if this government was serious about getting Australia moving, getting our economy moving and getting us out of this pandemic, then they had 20 months to plan it.
And they haven't, they’ve failed. They want everyone to be scared and under their beds. And what they should be doing is planning for our future. They've failed to do that. And that's why the Labor Party is stepping up and putting out proactive plans for the community now.
JOURNALIST: Should supply not have been redirected to HSC students?
MCBAIN: As I said, I have very deep sympathy for the New South Wales government who have had to make this decision. The blame lies squarely with Scott Morrison who failed to order enough vaccines for this country. 34 countries were ahead of us - a billion doses ordered by other countries before us. This lays squarely at the Morrison Government who did not plan enough to get us vaccines to vaccinate the country.
JOURNALIST: We're talking about proactive plans that Labor’s is coming up with. But is the cash for jobs plan just gimmick me because you can't actually implement it? Given the population is expected to be vaccinated by the end of the year.
MCBAIN: Throughout the entire pandemic the Labor Party has played a proactive role in actually trying to assist this Government to plan our way out of it. It was our idea for wage subsidies. It was our idea to make sure there was a national quarantine system.
Some of these ideas have been taken up and rebranded with catchy slogans. I have no doubt that in the not too distant future, there'll be a catchy slogan, maybe Jab Taker for the $300 – we’ll see. But we need to be proactive. We need to get the work done. And it's clear the Morrison Government isn't doing that work.