Date published: 
27 April 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

Matt Webber:

Another piece of the South East Queensland 2032 Olympics puzzle was slotted in on the weekend with the Federal Government agreeing to the Premier's request for a 50-50 split of funding for the games, should the 2032 bid be successful. Let's find out more about this Senator Richard Colbeck is the Federal Sports Minister. Good morning, Senator.

Richard Colbeck:

Morning, Matt.

Matt Webber:

Fifty-fifty sounds quite generous. What’s the catch?

Richard Colbeck:

Well, the Queensland Government asked us to be a 50-50 partner in the funding of key infrastructure for the games and in response to that, we said that’s fine but we want to be genuine partners in this process. So, we’d like to set up an infrastructure program project that allows us to be genuine partners so that we are involved in all of the elements of the assessment design and delivery of those projects so that we can look after Australian taxpayer interests and make sure we get the best value for money and potentially even attract in some private investments. So, that was our perspective on the deal if we’re going to be 50-50 funding partners, we want it to be genuine partners in the delivery of that infrastructure.

Matt Webber:

So, who has the final say here? I mean, can you elaborate a little bit on how this relationship might work?

Richard Colbeck:

Well, obviously, a lot of those details will need to be finally resolved. But the concept of state and federal governments working together in the delivery of key infrastructure isn’t a new one. For example, Snowy Hydro is a- was previously owned, until recently, by the Commonwealth and two states and that delivered one of Australia’s most significant pieces of infrastructure. This spend for the games will be a significant one, important for South East Queensland, more generally, in a broader infrastructure sense. And so being requested to be 50-50 funding partners, we said that that was fine as long as we were 50-50 partners in the other elements in the delivery and decision making.

Matt Webber:

So, for instance, if I can drill down into the specifics of something we already know, the Gabba will need to be redeveloped if we’re to host an effective games; where does the Federal Government sit when it comes to it, for instance?

Richard Colbeck:

Well, that’s a proposal that was put on the table last week as a new element to the bid. That project will have to go through a full assessment process like all of the other elements of the bid as well. So, it will be subject to all of the assessment processes of the new infrastructure delivery agency that we’ve said that we’d like to set up with the Queensland Government.

Matt Webber:

I know it’s just early stages yet, but it does sound a bit like well, 50-50 but on your terms. If you like the idea of what someone proposes, then you’ll chip in. Is that a genuine partnership in the circumstances?

Richard Colbeck:

Well, the whole point of setting up the agency is to ensure that it is a genuine partnership. Prime Minister said yesterday he wanted this to be the people’s games, he wanted to take the politics out of the process. That’s the purpose of this agency to do that, to give genuine assessment. But if we’re putting up 50 per cent of the funding, I think it’s reasonable that we say that we’d like to have a say in how those projects are developed, make sure that we’ve got the capacity to have some oversight of the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars from a Commonwealth perspective. I think it's quite reasonable.

Matt Webber:

It's about 24 minutes to nine. Senator Richard Colbeck with us. We've spoken in the past in your capacity as Minister for Aged Care, speaking to you as Federal Sports Minister today, obviously, joint responsibilities for you. There is another Olympics on the horizon. It's getting closer; Tokyo, just a few months away in July. We’ll see the flame lit there. Are we any further along when it comes to whether or not athletes will be vaccinated before they go?

Richard Colbeck:

Those conversations are continuing and I suspect that there’ll be some discussion or some further discussion about that at National Cabinet later in the week. I know it was raised as part of the conversations last week but we're not just looking at athletes, we're looking at Australians that might need to travel overseas for important and specific purposes and so, how we might facilitate all them being vaccinated as well.

So, we're looking at it in a slightly broader sense, not just about the athletes. But obviously, with the Olympics coming up, they’re an important part of those considerations because I think it's without question that they'll be exposed to the virus at the games given the number of people that will be there from the various countries around the world. And so, we want to make sure that they're in the best possible circumstances.

Matt Webber:

Do you think the public will cop the possibility that Olympians or sports people or commentators or whoever else is involved in the games might be vaccinated before their elderly parents or their friend with a disability? I mean, can you guarantee that that won’t happen?

Richard Colbeck:

Well, in the context of the rollout of vaccinations across the broader community, that continues to develop. We’re close to 2 million Australians who have had their first dose of vaccination now. So, we’re getting into it and it grows and expands every day. Obviously, we’ve had some constraints, particularly with availability of vaccines but as that supply grows and the number of outlets grows, so does the number of people being vaccinated, which is fantastic. We’re well and truly into the vaccination process for aged care residents now. We’re, sort of, around three quarters of the way through first doses and that will be done in the next few weeks in the first dose context.

So, I think as long as people are confident that those that need access, want access to the vaccine that they’re able to get it, that considerations such as athletes travelling to an event like the games, they’ll be content with that as a consideration.

Matt Webber:

You were supposed to have all of 1A – phase 1A of the rollout done before the end of March though, won’t you?

Richard Colbeck:

Yeah. Well, that was based on the fact that we would have access to significant quantities of vaccine and of course, 3.8 million doses didn’t arrive or 3.1 million doses didn’t arrive from Europe. So that constrained our capacity to build the rollout and of course, then we’ve had additional medical advice with respect to who should take the AstraZeneca vaccine.

So, that’s necessitated a reset in the program. So, yes, we set some targets early and we’ve had some challenges along the way but the vaccination rollout continues, it continues to grow. And if you look at the daily numbers where we're just under 2 million people having received a dose now, I think that that is progressing well and of course we’ll open up to 2A next month, so, you know, we’re con- people over 50, sorry, next month. So we're continuing to build access to the rollout. And, as I said, I think if people are comfortable that those that need or want access to the vaccine can get it through the various channels, then they'll be comfortable with others, like Olympians who are going onto the international stage to represent our country, that they would have access to it too, so that they can travel there safely.

Matt Webber:

At 20 to nine, ABC Gold Coast, you’re listening to Mornings. Matt Webb’s my name. I'm speaking with Minister, Federal Minister for Sport Minister for Aged Care too, Senator Richard Colbeck. Senator, I might just play for you some comments from our Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who was on ABC News 24 earlier.

[Excerpt]

Annastacia Palaszczuk:

I sent a letter to the Prime Minister at the end of last week asking for the suspension of flights coming in from India. We’re due to have a direct flight in the next week or so coming into Brisbane. It's a heightened- it's a high-risk proposition, other countries have done the suspension and I know that the Federal Government’s considering it today and I would welcome any response that they have to do that. This is a mutant strain. Unfortunately, we are seeing some 3- over 300,000 cases a day. This is unprecedented. We haven't seen this anywhere in the world like this before. And with these mutant strains, we don't know how much more contagious they are. I think, you know, the AMA has been making some really good points recently too, backing in our calls for regional quarantine. These are all issues that need to be on the table, not just left to the side.

[End of excerpt]

Matt Webber:

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier on this morning, wants incoming flights from India suspended. Given many under your care, as Aged Care Minister, and those in the highest risk category, can I assume you'd be on the same page as our Premier, Senator?

Richard Colbeck:

Well look, I think what has really worked well for Australia is making the important decisions in a collaborative way, particularly through the National Cabinet process. I know that all of those decisions that the Premier was talking about are being considered and will be actually discussed today further. So I think that that remains a collaborative process. I think the National Cabinet process and the discussions, open discussions between the premiers and the Prime Minister have been very, very fruitful for our country. And I was just looking at the figures globally a few moments ago, with yesterday there were 728,000 cases diagnosed across the world. And we're in a very fortunate position here because we have made the important decisions at the appropriate time, and the states and the Commonwealth between us have managed the vaccine and the virus really well. So we'll continue to do that and we will make those important decisions as we need.

Matt Webber:

I appreciate that and I'm sure people will. But I don't think there's anyone here in Australia who doesn't think that they're fortunate on a global scale. But the numbers coming out of India are obviously, severely concerning. I'll ask you again, as Aged Care Minister, surely there is an element of urgency that needs to be applied in this instance specifically on incoming flights from India, we don't want to be exposed in any way, shape, or form. Time is of the essence.

Richard Colbeck:

Well, as I said, we made some decisions with respect to flights coming in from India last week. It'll be considered again today. And I'm sure that the premier’s concerns in the letter that she wrote to the Prime Minister last night will form part of those discussions. And after those discussions have been had today, the Prime Minister will make appropriate announcements.

Matt Webber:

Appreciate your time, Senator. Thank you.

Richard Colbeck:

Thanks very much.

Matt Webber:

Cheers. Senator Richard Colbeck, Federal Sports Minister and also Federal Minister for Aged Care.