Media event date: 
22 July 2021
Date published: 
23 July 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Welcome to Q+A. Hello and welcome to the program. It's great to be with you, live from Melbourne. But our audience tonight is not here in the studio - it's in Brisbane, a city celebrating being named Olympic host games for the 2032 Games. And they're very happy about it too.

Joining me on the panel tonight: podcaster, teacher and disability advocate, Astrid Edwards; broadcaster and a familiar face from The Gruen Transfer, Russel Howcroft; Shadow Minister for the NDIS and Government Services Bill Shorten; from Brisbane, four-time Olympic gold medallist, Libby Trickett; and, from Canberra, Regional Health Minister, David Gillespie. Please make them all feel very welcome.

Now you can stream us live on iview and all the socials - qanda is the hashtag. Please join the debate and let us know what you're thinking. So, our first question comes now from Brisbane Himanshu Dogra in Brisbane.

QUESTION:                           

Hello, everyone. My question is, are the Olympics worth the investment, especially when no Olympic Games since 1960 has come in under budget? Many Olympic venues around the world, the are sitting in ruins; many Olympic stadiums are covered with graffiti and have rusted and overgrown with weeds. The economy went downhill since they hosted their last Olympics. My question is, did the Government get any expert advice before heading for this Olympics bid? Thanks.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Thanks so much for your question Himanshu. Well, Libby Trickett, we should come straight to you on that. Are the Olympics worth the price? Worth the cost?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

I mean, it's a really good question and I think it's definitely something that needs to be looked at. Obviously coming from my background as an elite athlete and as someone who has been to the Olympics, I would say 100 per cent, yes, it's worth the cost and the time and the energy that people put in to, you know, putting in for a bid; actually getting selected; and then, going and building the infrastructure and putting on and hosting an Olympic Games.

There have a been, obviously, a number of Olympics in the past few Olympiads that have not necessarily gone so well. I know my first Olympics in Athens, the pool is completely in- fallen into disrepair, and I think it's a similar situation, I think, in Rio. I know Beijing has still continued to have a beautiful facility in terms of the swimming complex there. And I'm hopeful that the infrastructure that would be built for the Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics would actually be exceptional for the community, for Australia.

And to bring people from all over the world to our country is a wonderful opportunity, especially hopefully post COVID and post everything that we're experiencing right at this minute. I think it is absolutely 100 per cent worth it.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Minister Gillespie, what do you think?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

No. Look, I think they're definitely worth it. They're a source of great national pride to the country. The athletes have trained their- for their life, many of them, to represent. It's a great economic driver, there's a bit of a tourism boom after it. And the thing with the Brisbane- these Olympics is most of the infrastructure, the sporting infrastructure has already been built. So, it's not going to be like in Sydney where everything was a Greenfield site. And I'd like to congratulate Brisbane, Queensland and also Senator Richard Colbeck and my colleague, Ted O'Brien, and the Australian Olympic Committee, the Mayor of Brisbane, they've done a fantastic job. It's a real feather in our cap.

And coming out of COVID, the economic boost of tourism is one of the many things we'll need as well as the- putting Brisbane and South East Queensland on the world map.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Let's go to you, Bill Shorten. What do you think?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

I love the Olympics. I love the idea of it. We have so many borders in the world, we've got so many armed guards and conflicts around the world. At the Olympics the only borders are the swimming lanes or the running track, and I think it's a great expression of this- humanity coming together and competing. So, I'm an unreconstructed fan boy of the Olympics. Yes, you've got to make sure the economic stuff's done properly.

But, do you know what? In Australia, we needed a bit of good news. I'm rapt for Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Feds, the State, the local. It's good news. But most importantly, it speaks to, I think, the human condition. For 10 or 12 or 20 days, we see the best and we see the best in our- you know, the triumph, the struggle, the tears. I love it.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

What do you reckon, Russel?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Well, we- I think that we learnt a lot in Australia just not that long ago. I mean, Sydney Olympics was brilliant as we all know, and those of us that were lucky enough to go there and witness just the energy is just incredible, isn't it? So exciting. But of course Sydney had a, had a hangover, and they had a hangover for quite a long time. I mean, I'm going to say a decade, maybe that's an exaggeration, but-

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

An economic hangover?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Yeah. They really did. And, you know, there's- maybe just the euphoria of just putting on such a brilliant Olympics, and everyone was just excited. But then, things didn't go that well for quite a period of time. So, so, lesson learnt.

So I would imagine that Brisbane will be very, very aware that you have to- you know, wouldn't it be awesome if you actually say, the Olympics, putting on the Olympics that's not the finishing line, that's actually just the beginning of the next wave of growth for the city, and for the state, and for our country.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Astrid Edwards, do you agree?

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

Actually, I am the dissenting opinion. I lived in Sydney during the Olympics, it was a beautiful experience. But I don't know, this is the age of COVID and I feel awkward about it. I find it difficult to get enthused. And I'm sorry for the athletes to say that, I think that that's an individual expression of the beauty of humanity. But I just can't get myself worked up.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

As a disability advocate, and someone with a disability yourself, you, you can't get excited for the Paralympics?

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

Well, what I would say is with the Brisbane Olympic bid, this was the first time I believe the actual bid from the city was dual branded Olympics and Paralympics, and that is absolutely brilliant.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Yeah. The, the- also, the good news is that the, sort of, the Olympic movement has worked out, but it doesn't have to be completely over the top - and that's been the case with Brisbane winning. It's, it's sort of been, yes, we've got the infrastructure in place, we're not- we don't have to actually put any investment in place which may- might in the end be dead money.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

But of course, there will be; of course be. And there'll probably be wasted money, and there'll, there'll most certainly be overruns because there always are.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Yeah.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Is that just something, Libby Trickett, that you live with if you support Olympics?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Yeah. I think you have to weigh it all up, right. So, you have to balance that- those extra costs and, and all of the time and energy you're putting the- building the little bits and pieces of infrastructure that is required. And putting on such an event with the benefit of, not only bringing people from around the world to see Queensland, to see the Great Barrier Reef, to see our beautiful country - but the legacy that leaves for our communities.

I just, from my perspective, like I understand Astrid's opinion on, on all of that, because it is really hard in these times to, kind of, get excited when everyone is, is suffering in lockdowns and things like that. But for young kids now, to know that there is going to be an Olympic Games in 11 years' time, you know, those kids are going to be inspired and motivated to go and train, and compete, and want to be a part of their home Olympics. And now, they get to go into the next month of the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo and, and get even more inspired and motivated to go on to Brisbane in 2032. So I think it's the- that's the thing that you weigh up.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I want to go to our next question which is in Brisbane. Just quickly before I do - and I'm not asking you to do this, Bill Shorten - but it is true that you know and can recite every Summer Olympic Games there's ever been? Are you really that kind of an Olympic nerd?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

Yeah.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Let's not do that, though, okay? Later. Alright, our next question comes from Desirea Brant in Brisbane.

QUESTION:                           

Hello. There are many expats living in Australia as dual citizens who have not been able to see their family in years due to this Pandemic. And yet Annastacia Palaszczuk is able to travel to Tokyo freely to bid on the 2032 Olympics. There have also been many events cancelled and restrictions put into place, and yet sporting venues are still able to operate at extremely high capacities. My question is why is sport prioritised over everything else by the Australian Government?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Thanks so much for your question, Desire. Sport prioritised over everything else by the Australian Government. Astrid, how would you respond to that?

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

I love that question. That is an absolutely fantastic question. I am a teacher and I believe greatly in the arts. And literary events, theatre, so many of our other aspects of life are complete constrained with social distancing inside. Sport, I know stadiums are a bit outside and it is- has the feel of this imperative in Australia, we must, must support sport, and I really genuinely don't understand why, why this happens. I suspect that someone on this stage is going to talk about the economic argument and I understand that money matters, but I just- excellent question.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

I think there was a couple of points in the question. I don't think it should be either, or. I think our live entertainment sector's been smashed by COVID, and the Government hasn't done enough to support it. I think sport is a lifter of hope, it's a bringer together of communities. It shouldn't be a beauty parade, though.

But I thought for me, and what the questioner said which was most important, is we've got Australians overseas who can't get home. And I think that's a disgrace. And for me, the real problem in this country is that we haven't handled the COVID-19 outbreak as well as we could have, and as a result Australian citizens, overseas for legitimate reasons, haven't been able to get home. And yet you've got other people hopping in and out. And I- so I can see why people feel it's- it doesn't feel right.

But, as for Annastacia going to Tokyo, we've still got to do the day job. But for people who've had weddings cancelled, or can't see their family, or had operations put off - I can understand why the perception of a double standard would be really, deeply disillusioning. But I think the answer is better quarantine and better vaccination rollout.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

We'll get to everybody on the panel, in particular the Minister in just a moment. But I wanted to play you part of what was quite an extraordinary press conference this morning with the Queensland Premier and the AOC boss, John Coates. Have a look.

[Excerpt]

JOHN COATES:                     

You are going to the opening ceremony. I'm still the Deputy Chair of the candidature leadership group, and so far as I understand that there will be an opening and a closing ceremony in 2032, and all of you have got to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that; what's involved in an opening ceremony. So, no. None of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, alright?

QUESTION:                           

Premier?

ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK:    

I don't want to offend anybody, so

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Is, is he just speaking fluent Olympic there, Libby Trickett? And we don't quite understand that that's how you speak to premiers when you're head of the AOC?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Look, I don't think it was necessarily the finest moment, especially just after the elation of being announced as the 2032 host Olympics- host city for the Olympics and Paralympics. I think, I guess from my perspective, I think it might have started with being teasy, I don't know what the word is, but it really has not been received well to be honest. And I watched that exchange a couple of times today and felt in my soul it was very uncomfortable for Annastacia Palaszczuk. I think she believes she was doing the right thing in terms of perhaps not going to the opening ceremony because a lot of people are a bit upset she has gone over to Tokyo for the Olympic bid. And understandably, there's so many things people are dealing with in their own lives at the moment, so, I understand why people would be upset about that. So, she's trying to limit her exposure limit the trip, I guess, to just the essentials. And then to be kind of, understandably, mansplained about the importance of the opening ceremony. I mean, I went to three Olympic Games and haven't been to a single opening ceremony. So, I understand that they're important, I understand that it's a beautiful event and I would have loved to have been part of it. But also your job is your job and that's what you're there to do and that's what she went over to do is to do the bid for Brisbane.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] Okay. Well, let's-

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

And I just don't think she was able to go on, and I think that's unfair for her.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Let's got to the Minister. Minister, was that an appropriate way for John Coates to be speaking to the Premier of Queensland?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Well, I certainly wouldn't have spoken to the Premier of Queensland like that. The actual attendance at the opening ceremony, though, I think is highly appropriate because we have just been awarded the Olympics. We have been involved in a long bid process.                                               

Japan has been one of our closest allies in Asia for a very long time, and it would have been a major diplomatic insult if she didn't go. But, the manner and the tone did come across to me as a bit menacing, bit like a schoolmaster talking to a pupil. So, yeah. The politics and the optics is, is not good. But I agree with him, in fact, that, yeah, definitely the Premier and the Mayor of Brisbane, and I expect Senator Colbeck is probably going to be there as well.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

They're staying on for a few more days it seems. Russel Howcroft, can't you just send someone from your team to go along and have a look at the opening ceremony?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Yes, you can. It was very interesting, wasn't it? Because- I've watched it a lot of times - suspected, we might be talking about it. And I thought, maybe there's a- there was maybe a little bit of inside, inside baseball going on.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

In what way?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Maybe there's was conversations that had been occurring. I think there was almost an attempt at, not a joke - I'm not sure. But, in the end the tone of voice…

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] Oh, you think that was a failed attempt at a joke?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Totally. In the end, the tone of voice is really odd, and obviously, the crossed arms doesn't help either - I mean, that's just, you know, shocking body language. And of course others can go. I mean they're- you know, the Australians, Australians are, in fact, experts at putting on Olympics. We- There are, there are executives and staff who go around every four years to Olympics in all the different cities who come from Australia who are, as I say, absolute expert at putting on, putting on these incredible events. So, we do know how to do it - we do genuinely know how to do it. We've done it here, and we do it in other countries as well.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Well, of course, John Coates has issued a statement following that and said that his comments there to the Premier have been completely misinterpreted by people who weren't in the room, and absolutely he believes the Premier should come to the opening ceremony and she has accepted. So, that's going along now. Yes, Astrid.

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

I know that this is linked to the 2032 Olympics for Australia, but can we just step back from the Olympics and think about how a man who holds a position of power spoke to one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful woman in Queensland, and in Australia. Not only did he mansplain her, he genuinely thought that he had the right to give her directions in public in that tone of voice. If that happens to a premier who is certainly able to hold her own, imagine what happens to the rest of us - to women, to women of colour, to migrant women, to people with disabilities. It is just not acceptable in our public discourse. Absolutely.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Well, the Minister's always- already described it as menacing. Do you think there might be some consequences for John Coates about that, Minister Gillespie? Or is he pretty much untouchable?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Look, I think any comments will be made by the appropriate people, I've said my piece.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Okay. Well, let's go to the next question. It's a video question, and it comes from Rajas Satija(*) in Corio, Victoria.

QUESTION:                           

My question is to Libby Trickett. The recent withdrawal of Maddie Groves from the 2021 Olympics raised many questions about the role that misogyny plays in professional sport. What kind of grassroots initiatives do you think are needed, in order to tackle this issue at a fundamental level to make sure such incidents do not occur again?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

It's a question directly to you, Libby. And of course, Maddie Groves withdrew from the trials, saying that it should be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport. I'll use coarse language here, she said that there were trainers who were staring at her t*ts while she was training; and, she said you can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame, or medically gaslight them. When you heard all that, did it ring a bell with you?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Yeah. It was a really interesting conversation that came up just before the Olympic trials, just a few weeks ago. And it was a difficult thing to hear, I guess, about a sport that I really love and I'm very passionate about, and I didn't love the timing, obviously, just before the Olympic trials, you didn't want distractions for these athletes who have waited another 18 months on top of what, you know, was already a four-year cycle. And so, I was worried about how people would then look at, at swimming.

For me, I've not experienced any sort of misogynistic conversations to me personally, and I certainly wouldn't ever want to invalidate Maddie's experiences because I don't know what they are. And, obviously, everyone has different experiences within their, their swimming careers, or indeed, in their lives. But for me I think I'm excited about the possible conversation, particularly around body image with young female athletes. And I think that is something that really needs to be discussed because that is something that is fundamentally part of our self-esteem and how we view ourselves, not only as athletes but certainly as women as well. And I think-

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] Yeah. Just to, just to jump in there Libby, if I can. Because I know that you've, you've reflected on how the focus on, on skin falls - on the folds of your skin and, heaven forbid, any sort of body fat that, you know, could be pinched or caught on your body, how that was noticed by your trainer and the overweening focus on that was a real issue, and messed with your head?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Yeah. And I, I don't know whether that was because we have- for me as an athlete, I was very much- the feeling that I was never enough, so I was constantly trying to push and prove myself, and, and challenge myself to be more, and show what I was capable of. And certainly that self-esteem with body image and being as lean as possible was something that was very much ingrained in that. And I think we need to be able- 99 per cent of coaches are men in swimming and we either need to create an environment that women, female coaches, come into the sport; or we need to educate our male couches in how to speak to young female athletes. Because, you know, we need to be able have these conversations, not just about the vehicle that is our bodies to create these performances, but you know, talking about menstrual cycles; talking about how we feel about ourselves is something that is so important and I think will have a massive impact on our performances, not just as an athlete, but then in life after as well.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Minister, I wanted to come to you. Because as the father of daughters, I mean, you would reflect on this of course. And anyone who has gone through having daughters and raising them through puberty, but also through this very difficult period of lockdown where emotional issues and psychological issues have come to the fore, it must weigh on your mind when you've got a high-profile athlete like that calling out a sport and a sporting organisation that we all like to love and revere?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Yeah. It was distressing hearing the story and it's really sad that such a talented athlete has felt the only she could solve the problem was to withdraw, because she's probably put her life and soul into swimming. You know, like you said, it's not appropriate to be that-behaving in that way. In any workplace or sporting organisation or anything like that, people are much more aware of this, and obviously it doesn't reflect well on the sport or the person involved.

So, I think what Libby said is actually right on the money. And I think getting more female coaches might add a much more friendly mood and demeanour in the sport. If what Libby said, it's- I'm surprised there aren't more female coaches.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Yeah, and need to come up through the ranks as well. Russel?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Yeah. Well, good on her. Good on the athlete really for having the guts to do that and to call it out. Because, you know, culture…

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] It's brought about an inquiry now into the culture as a result of it. Yeah.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

[Talks over] Exactly. Exactly. And culture, culture can be very, very hard to change. You know, it's- you can have one- an individual that can infiltrate a culture and then it can go bad, and it can- and then that bad, that bad element then rubs off, rubs off on many people, and all of a sudden that becomes the culture. And you have to have serious intervention moments in order to change culture. It's not- It's- You know, I like to think culture's like a river, Virginia. You know? And- They've- By changing-                             

VIRGINIA TRIOLI

[Interrupts] Where are you going with this, Russel?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Well, if you think of culture as a river, they're very hard to change direction. Yeah. And if it's deep and if it's wide, it's even harder. So you have to sort of think of, you have to think of culture like that. So, if we are going to actually change this, we've got to really, like, put up a dam wall and start all over again. It's really tough to do.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Blow up the river. Well, our next question is a video one, and it comes from Steve Trumble(*) in Aireys Inlet in Victoria.

QUESTION:                           

Russel Howcroft has said, with regards to the vaccination rollout, that communication is everything and we have thus far failed to get it right. Russel, if you were given $10 million and only the other panellists to use in a vaccination ad, what would the result look like?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

First of all, could I just say there are no palm trees in Aireys Inlet, [indistinct] for a second. Okay, you've got 10 million bucks…

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Okay. Ten million.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

… that's not a lot in advertising. But you have Libby Trickett.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

I do. Good to see you, Libby. Okay, so…

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Hi.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

… what, what you…

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] So what do you do?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

What's really interesting is that in Australia, we haven't had the fear that they've had in other parts of the world. It's been- was very interesting, a friend of mine who lives in New York, she said maybe what you need to do in Australia is just get some mock morgues and stick them at the end of the street, because that's actually what she experienced for real. So we haven't experienced that for real. As a result of vaccine take-up- it was slow certainly at the start of the year. I know there's supply now, but go back to the start of the year, there was this sort of lack of urgency. But I think if we put fear in, I think that's going to be tough in Australia.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Well it's been tried. We talked about this last week, the Government has made its fear ad and we can talk to you about that, David Gillespie, and see if you were a fan of it. But no one seems to be.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

No one, but however I've seen some research that says it's actually worked and worked very well in the New South Wales market…

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] Oh, really?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Anyway, what would I do? What you would do is- we, us, we would put on something highly entertaining. I'm not quite sure what will it be, but let's say we're going to do a little song and dance on this stage here. But then what would happen is ...

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

It's a dag(*) effect.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Yes. Our performance would be rudely interrupted, and it would be rudely interrupted by a politician from a press conference. At 11:59, we are going to be in lockdown, and then we continue with our stage show. And then in the offbeat, you'd be rudely interrupted again, and you'd be rudely interrupted again by - you must QR code wherever you go. And then we'll continue the stage show. It would be rudely interrupted again by yet another part of this COVID life that's getting in the way. We have to encourage people by live an uninterrupted life. Live an uninterrupted life, because that's currently what we are living. Yes. So for us, I don't think freedom works for us. I don't think free works for us. I think not living an interrupted life can work for us. And I've got a hashtag for you as well.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

What's that?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

It's #VaxOurNation.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

It's all right. It's not great.

                                               [Laughter]

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

I thought it was pretty good.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

So for 10 million bucks, that's not bad.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Well, we can make the [indistinct]. But just the- one of the issues with the vaccination campaign thus far is there isn't enough money allocated to it. I was very surprised when the Prime Minister said we've got 40 million. Now, 40 million is a lot of money, but it's not a lot of money when it comes to the communication that's required to beat us over the head. You have to act like a retailer. Retailer spend a hundred million plus to get their message out.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

And there's the advertising the media buy as well. David Gillespie, jump in.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Yeah, look, it was a confronting ad. As Russel was outlining, there was a lot of vaccine hesitancy and complacency. And look, showing what it actually is like in an ICU for a lot of people that haven't been there is confronting. But look, I would rather see people seeing it on TV than being there in real life. I practised for 33 years and spent a lot of my hours in and outside ICUs, and it is pretty ugly. But as Russel said, we needed it. It was timed when there was a reluctance to take up the vaccine, and people thought it wasn't a serious illness. It is a very serious illness, as people in New York, London, India, Indonesia, everyone has found out, everyone gets it. It's a one in a hundred-year event. And thank god it is only a rare event to have a pandemic. It means that everyone can get it. So the message is get your vaccine. That is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family. And it will make a very serious disease a much milder disease. And-

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I- just very quickly, if I can, because all the panellists are dying to jump in. Very quickly, if you can, Minister ...

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

And it worked.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Well, the data is interesting that Russel's reflecting on there. You are a doctor, gastroenterologist and in clinical treatment for many, many years before you joined Parliament. As a doctor, and given that we're sitting on swathes of AstraZeneca, do you wish on reflection that the government had have got more forcefully behind AstraZeneca in order to get our vaccination levels up higher than they are right now? It's turning out even with the very remote risk - and we sort of- seen it seriously today - it's turning out to be a very effective and very nuggetty little vaccine, this one. Do you wish that we had backed it more?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Well, we have backed it. We've manufactured it here, that's ...

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] But my question was more.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Well, I don't know how much more we could. Everyone said we're rushing a vaccine, so the TGA did a very thorough job before they gave it the tick of approval. If we had just rushed it in, people would have been complaining about that. In the long run, it is delivering a lot of better outcomes for the UK. We're going to see how good it goes with the freedom moment in the UK. But look, everything is 20/20 vision in retrospect. When you look at the big picture of our vaccine rollout, it's taken off. 184,000 people in the last 24 hours. A million a week is quite sustainable now that we have plentiful supply. We have got Moderna coming on in a couple of months, or less than a six or eight weeks away. We're engaging pharmacies. There's 3,900 have signed up to it. This coming weeks, we'll have 500 more and they'll ramp up around regional Australia, first of all, with AstraZeneca. And then as Pfizer- more of it becomes available, that can be added in, and they're earmarked to get the Moderna. So you're going to see an exponential increase over the coming weeks and months.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

It's definitely ramping up. You want to jump in quickly here, Russel.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

The other thing that we have to see is sporting bodies or arts bodies, as has happened in Victoria, just industries creating advertising as well, and just create- just the- it's not just about the government doing communication. It's just not about the government actually fulfilling the application of the vaccine. It's also about industry using their creative capability to generate advertising. Some of the best advertising has been- Heineken, have you seen the Heineken campaign that's in Europe? Brilliant. BLK in the US, which is a dating app, brilliant end line. The end line of BLK is: no, vax, no vucking.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Laughs] That was a V, ladies and gentlemen. And I- Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

You can do all the advertising in the world, but if it isn't backed up by the facts, then it becomes counterproductive. And despite David's saying, oh, it's all- we've got the vaccination rollout underway, a lot of people actually- there's the cloud over the AZ. So that's been a problem. And it has undermined confidence.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Well, it's not a cloud over the- I mean ...

BILL SHORTEN:                     

Well, hang on. Let me finish, though.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] I don't want to put anything out there that's incorrect that might stir up more vaccine hesitancy, so maybe we ...

BILL SHORTEN:                     

[Talks over] I'm sorry. No, no, I wasn't doing that. But what I was saying is the government changed the instruction, ATAGI changed the instructions. They said you had to go and get AZ if you were 50 plus, then they changed it to 60 plus. That confused people. I get why it happened. But I'm saying all the advertising in the world, but if the facts aren't backing it up in terms of can you get a vaccine? Is the booking system working? Why do we only have two vaccines available? And the other thing is there'll be some groups who just don't believe in sticking needles in your arm and therefore the government needs to talk to those disadvantaged groups. And I think fundamentally, why haven't we got a national no fault compensation scheme? So if someone- if they're worried about getting sick, even if the risk is infinitesimally small, why don't we just have a no fault compensation scheme? The government announced something on June the 28th, but they haven't backed it up in protecting the doctors, the nurses, the chemists and the patients.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] Well, the indemnification is coming through now.

BILL SHORTEN:                     

[Talks over] Why not we ...

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] But the doctors are indemnified, as I understand now. Yeah.

BILL SHORTEN:                     

There is no detail in the scheme.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

No detail? David Gillespie?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

No. Look, that is government policy. It has been announced. It will be- the government will make sure that any legislation that needs to be attached to that will be. But it's a statement by the Prime Minister himself. And ...

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] Yeah but you'll need to get moving on it because otherwise you're losing more time if you actually don't get that going. And that's another day that GPs can't- don't feel safe enough to actually vaccinate people.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

No. Well, I think you'll find the machinery of government has got that in hand. But the main thing is that it is working. Now, the vaccine take up has started with more Pfizer coming in. The AstraZeneca has done millions of people in the UK. There is also treatment for the thrombotic thrombocytopenia syndrome. So in Australia, the outcomes are much better than they have been overseas, because we know so much more about how to treat it now. So look, between the Moderna, the Pfizer, the AZ, we will have- and then we've got Novavax coming down the line with another protein subunit vaccine. So we are going to have more vaccines then we have got people.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Well, listen, let me go to Astrid. I think you want to jump in there.

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

I do. So the original question was about advertising. And what we miss from the advertising is there needs to be so much more nuance in this, okay? So as you briefly alluded to, Mr Shorten, it's not just everybody get vaccinated and here is why. There are different groups within the community. There are different reasons people will get vaccinated, and we are currently not talking to that at all as a nation. I give you the example of last year when we were all learning about social distancing and masks. There are certain people in the community who can't wear masks, and that message wasn't known to most of Australia.                                              

But I would also go back to, Minister, the numbers that you mentioned a few moments ago, the numbers, the take up of the vaccination, it sounds very impressive. You know, this many millions of Pfizer coming and this many people got vaccinated the last 24 hours. Those numbers are going up and it's good. But there is still no nuance when we see the reporting of these numbers, and we see politicians like yourself, I would say with respect, talking about them. What about the people in aged care homes? What about people with disability and people living in group homes? We never see enough nuance in those numbers, so it's not about the total number. It's about where the people are and what their rates of vaccination are.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I'll let you respond just quickly, Minister Gillespie, and then we'll move on. But just a quick response there.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Yeah, look, the aged care rollout, all the aged care facilities have had their first jab. Over 76-

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

[Interrupts] It's July.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Yeah.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

I know but there's a three-month lag between the first vaccine and the second vaccine.

BILL SHORTEN:                     

[Talks over] But you promised to do it all by Easter for disabled people.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

I know, Bill, but things go off track sometimes. We were promised-

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

[Interrupts] I'm sorry, I'm going to jump in, Minister. I'm really sorry. Today there were reports this afternoon, and it might have gone further since I've been in the studio, but in New South Wales, in a group home with people with disability, three people had received the first dose but not the second. They are now infected with COVID-19 as a result of a worker. There should be no blame for that worker coming into the home to do their job. Why wasn't that worker vaccinated as well? It is July and there is no further time to say, oh, it went wrong or the rollout did work.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Let's hear from the Minister, Astrid.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

As we said at the outset, the vaccination program is voluntary. And there has been vaccine hesitancy. And this is one of the unfortunate side effects.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Wasn't one of the big problems as well, Minister, following that first promise of them being- all this staff, their workers there and also the residents in those places being priority 1A and then that ambition was downgraded and then downgraded again. As you say, we didn't meet Easter and we still haven't met this latest [indistinct]. I mean, I guess what Astrid is perhaps asking you is to own the consequences now of that very, very slow rollout which was entirely the Federal Government's response.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Look, as I said, the plan was that we were going to have 3.5 million more vaccines much earlier on. You know, it was very slow at the start because there was a shortage of supply of vaccines around the world. With Pfizer and with AstraZeneca, all the production in America was staying in America. They were crying out for it in Europe, and we got put to the side. All the producers do have a moral obligation. They saw how safe and well we were going in Australia. And frankly, people were crying out for it. People were dying in the streets. As Russel was outlining, in New York there were extra morgues, mobile morgues because so many people were dying. The health system was overwhelmed around the world and we were sitting at the bottom of the world in a really good spot. A lot of my colleagues in the UK were amazed at how well we've managed it.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] Yeah, but it was great spot that ended up being utterly squandered. We lost that extraordinary opportunity that Australia secured for itself which was to be vaccinated. Look, I know that Libby Trickett is dying to jump in. Go, Libby.

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Sorry. Can I just say, I've heard it a couple of times already tonight, but a lot to blame about vaccine hesitancy, and I just don't think that's 100 per cent accurate. I think the majority of people in my age group, which is under 40s who don't have any medical conditions and are not in any of the priority groups, we're keen. We want to get vaccinated. We want to understand the process and have a clear and concise message of how we can go about that. I actually got my Pfizer vaccination yesterday, my first dose. I have not qualified for it. I don't really know how I managed to get it. I went online onto the Queensland Government and registered to be vaccinated and six weeks later I managed to get a booking. But that's not clear to people across the country. And I know that there are people in aged care homes who are still not vaccinated, and there are people who are in those priority groups who are not vaccinated and I'm sure are very keen and very willing to be vaccinated. The message is not clear. It's confusing about how people access these vaccinations. And I think it has just become so convoluted that maybe that's leading to people waiting to understand and have a clearer picture of how they go about it.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I'll hear from Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

Can I just go to the elephant in the room? We don't have the death rate of UK, mainland Europe, India or Brazil, but tonight as we- here, a TV station, 13.5 million people are locked down. There's one reason why we're locked down. Because 80 per cent of this country isn't vaccinated. If we had had the vaccines, we wouldn't be locked down. The reality is that COVID will become a pandemic for the unvaccinated. The only way we can get out of lockdown, the home-schooling, the cancelled weddings, the funerals, borders, travel, normality, is to be vaccinated. And the Government hasn't done that properly. And until we get the vaccines- it's good that there's a million people, a million doses, that's lovely. But Astrid nailed it before. It's what's the finishing line. I wish the Government would just be straight with the people and say to us righto- here's a free advertising campaign. Tell us Australia how many of us have to get the double dose, and then at that point when you've got 80 per cent or whatever the number is, then we can be stopping lockdown. People will go and get vaccinated. The hesitancy will start to evaporate.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I've got a questioner standing by, but Minister, just before we move on. Is there a- from your medical experience, is there a figure that you think Australia should be comfortable with, a percentage vaccination rate?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Look, the UK went with something around 70, but I think as soon as we get as many people who want to be vaccinated vaccinated, we should start moving forward in living with COVID. The other thing we should do is [indistinct] a lot of treatment-

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Interrupts] Sorry to jump in there, Minister. So, if everyone is offer a vaccine and they get it or they refuse it, and you've got people out there double vaccinated, they get to live their life and the others will just have to take their chances?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

No, no. There will be a figure announced but I'm not deciding that.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] Of course.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

The Doherty Institute is getting some modelling together, and I don't want to second guess what they're going to come out with. I mentioned what they went with in the UK, and look, they are still having cases with 70 per cent. The new Delta strain is very infective. And fortunately for them, the severity of the illness isn't nearly as bad if you've had the vaccine. So, look, the bigger the number, the better. That would be the absolute minimum I would expect, my own personal opinion. But we'll wait and see what the Doherty Institute has to say.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Let's go to our next question. It comes from Ruby Chiswell who's in Brisbane.

QUESTION:                           

I work with vulnerable people and it has made me question that with the future supply of vaccines somewhat uncertain, there is a risk that the Australian Federal Government will follow the UK's lead and attempt to open the economy before we have reached herd immunity. It seems we are already seeing [audio error] compromised individuals should isolate with extreme precaution while restrictions are eased. Would such an approach pose a risk to the wellbeing of immunocompromised Australians, many of whom are already marginalised by mainstream society?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Well, I think the Minister has already anticipated to some degree a lot of the elements in that question. But Astrid, what do you think?

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

Yes. It does pose a risk. And when we think about who is fully vaccinated in the future, people who aren't fully vaccinated in the future, that's going to be a level of- it's going to prevent certain access, it may prevent them from doing certain things, accessing certain services, going to sport, et cetera, et cetera. It risks laying a new layer of marginalisation, a new layer of disadvantage over what we already had pre-COVID. That was people with disability, that was people who are like myself immunocompromised with chronic illness. but it is all other forms of marginalisation as well. We risk almost creating a two-tier- or an almost new class system in Australia, including people with chronic illness and disability.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Libby Trickett, I know you had a visceral response to so-called Freedom Day in the UK. It didn't seem so delightful to you. What was your response?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Yeah. It was just horrific to see that they have just opened up the doors and are basically letting the virus in. That just seems completely unbelievable that in this day and age, we would care so little about people who may not be able to be vaccinated or who are vulnerable people in our communities, our older members of the community. That scares me. And it scares me because I think people are really sick of the situation that we're in in Australia. They're sick of locking down. They're sick of borders being slammed shut. They're sick of not being able to plan holidays to anywhere outside of their state. And I think that's the really scary thing because if people tune out and start to look overseas and see everyone opening up, they forget how many people have died to get to this point and then they're just opening up and even more people will become vulnerable. And I know that with my- I have three young girls, you know, they're not vaccinated right now. And the idea of opening up and potentially creating a situation where a whole new strain that attacks young children or people who are the most vulnerable in our communities, that really scares me.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I know that, like many other Australians, it's been really difficult for you to manage your mental health and you made a big decision at the beginning of the pandemic in lockdown to take care of yourself in that regard. Can you tell us about that, Libby?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

Yeah. So, throughout my life, I've dealt with all different types of mental illness including depression and post-natal depression, and through that situation in Brisbane- we've been so lucky in Brisbane. We've had the least- one of the least amount of lockdowns, but when we went into lockdown in March 2020, I knew with a 6-month-old, a 2-year-old, and a not quite 4- not quite 5-year-old, I should say, that I was going to have to really take care of myself and I didn't have those things that I normally rely on, which was being able to access my psychologist and being able to exercise regularly in the ways that allow me to manage my mental health. So I made the decision to go on to antidepressant medication which has been just a life saver for me through this uncertain time, through these unprecedented times I guess you could call them. It's been a real benefit for me and something that I'm very happy that I took the steps to do all the way in March last year. But there are so many people who are struggling and will struggle if we start to go down the line of let her rip and see what happens.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Russel?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Well, the PM- maybe three weeks ago, the four-stage process was revealed, which I think that was great because it's actually going- it's preparing us for what's going to happen. There needs to be detail around what the four stage- what the process actually looks like, which I know the Doherty Institute is looking into, so into the data. So at what point do we go from we're in Stage 1 now, at what point do we go into Stage 2? Then at what point do we go into Stage 3? At some point, we will be letting the virus in. That is what is going to happen. There's going to be enough people that are vaccinated, and as a result, it seems safe to let the virus in. And we have to prepare the country for that. People have to be aware that that is what is going to happen.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Minister, you wanted to say something a moment ago?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Yeah. Look, it's really distressing- just about the mental health issues, Libby. I'm really proud of you that you're sharing that with us…

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

hank you.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

… But many people have had this problem. It is disrupting, not just commerce, but people's lives. There's very lonely people who've been locked away for months during various lockdowns. The quickest way we can get out of this is to get that vaccine rollout, which will put a level of protection, turning a really serious illness into a mild illness. It's not a universal absolute, only one type of solution. With influenza, we have drugs like Tamiflu, Relenza, as well as flu vaccines. And the same will happen with this illness. The whole world is looking at new drugs, whether it is fancy new ones or combination therapies with older drugs that have antiviral capability, like we treated HIV. It was untreatable for many years. When I was treating liver disease with Hep C, there was, first of all, just one drug, then two. And then all of a sudden, we got combination therapy with multiple antivirals and we virtually can cure most people with Hep C. Same with TB. That principle will apply with this illness. So for everyone out there, the best thing we can do is get ourselves vaccinated. Follow all the easy things that aren't drugs, like hand hygiene, like when you're in crowded places, all that stuff. And…

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] And also, Minister, just to jump in there, just to jump in because I do want to get to some other questions because we're running out of time. There was a report on the ABC this morning about the Government, the Federal Government not acting fast enough to secure those drug treatments that will evolve now, as you're indicating, to now deal with what becomes an endemic disease like the ones that you mention. So are you aware of and do you want to see real speed this time from your Federal Government to secure the drug treatments that will manage COVID-19 and its variants into the future?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Oh, yes. Definitely. Look, in a couple of the meetings I've had-

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] And I- have you made any moves on that?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Look, we have a COVID evidence taskforce that is scanning the literature the whole time. I keep a track of it myself, amongst my many duties. There are things evolving that will offer hope beyond just the vaccination, but the number one most important public health measure we've got now until we can get effective treatments, and I'm getting reports all the time, really exciting results, which I'll follow and the COVID evidence taskforce will follow, and that is a next layer of defence against the virus. As you say, it's going to be endemic. That means it's going to float around all the time.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

And we'll have to have treatments. Our next question comes from Marque Baker in Brisbane.

QUESTION:                           

Independent- compulsory independent assessments have been scrapped, but what's to stop the National Disability Insurance Agency actually implementing those assessment tools via their planners or somebody else who works via the agency without a third party?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Thank you for your question. It's a good one. I'll come straight to you, Bill Shorten. So the independent assessments have been dropped. What happens now, do you think?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

I thank all the disability advocates and participants who campaigned against it. I don't- the battle has been won but I don't trust the Government when it comes to running the Disability Insurance Scheme. I don't think they really understand the idea of a generous individual package to help profoundly disabled people. I just think they want to cut the scheme. They think it's welfare. They think it's costing too much. I think the Government think too many people with autism are claiming packages who shouldn't be. I think the Government privately thinks that the accommodation packages are too generous. If you want to change- if you want to secure the NDIS, change the management of the government.

So Marque, I just say to you, straightforward, the same people who brought you independent assessments, they're not going to change their spots. So you change the leadership of the NDIA and the Government and get some new people in who actually are motivated to make the scheme work as it was originally designed to do.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I want to hear from Astrid and I will of course come to the Minister for a right of reply. But isn't it possible that this scheme, which has been universally applauded and celebrated, but nonetheless, Bill Shorten, wasn't efficiently, effectively and correctly costed by your side of politics in the first place? And that's part of the reason that we're here. No one is arguing with the reality of it but the costing of it.

BILL SHORTEN:                     

Sure. Quick answer. The Government has had eight years. They've been in since 2013.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Is that an admission you didn't do it right?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

No, not at all. I'm saying that after eight years, when do they ever take responsibility for anything? I mean, they've been in charge- if you're in charge of a $22 billion organisation for eight years, it's a bit hard to go black and blame the previous people. The scheme was costed appropriately at that time. I've got no doubt. This Government has invented reasons to cut the NDIS. It's like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They're just making the evidence up. And when will we ever hold the Coalition Government responsible? They've been in charge for eight years. They might have three different prime ministers but it's the same roosters running the show.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Alright. Well let's hear from Astrid.

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

The NDIS was originally co-designed, and that included people with disability. The independent assessments had nothing to do with people with disability. It was pushed down from the top. It was a bureaucratic move. It was insulting. It is- the battle has been won. It is a good thing independent assessments are no longer with us, but can you think about the work that disability advocates and their allies and some very good reporters have been doing over the last 18 months to get rid of this? Think of the other things that could have been advocated for in this time. The NDIS is still not perfect.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

You're not part of it, are you? I know you're happy for me to mention that you have MS and you didn't join the scheme. Why not?

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

So, there are approximately one in five Australians have a disability. That is myself. I have a neurological condition, multiple sclerosis. About 430,000 people in Australia are on the NDIS.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

But for you?

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

So I am not part of the NDIS. I did the prep work to begin to go and start the process. And in one of the only times in my professional life, despite being able to talk for myself and advocate for myself, I burst into tears and never went back.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                

It's a hard process.

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

It is an extraordinary process and it needs to be fixed.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Minister?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Yeah. Look, I think what Bill has described isn't really accurate. Look, it is bipartisanly supported by us. We've supported it the whole way through. But as Linda Reynolds said, the projections, the growth in the cost of the scheme is reaching unsustainable proportions. It's going to overtake Medicare. That's a pretty dramatic...

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

[Talks over] But you're blaming the individuals.

BILL SHORTEN:                     

[Talks over] That's not right. That's not right.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

No, I'm not blaming the individual. The reason we need to do this is to make it sustainable. I have a really large disability cohort in my own area. I was sat on the oversight committee for three years and I followed it very closely since. We are doing this because many people around the country, 450,000 people, rely on this program.

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

[Talks over] But you tried to take the individual agency away.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Astrid, let the Minister speak.

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

No. No. So look, I think it's very important that we make sure it is sustainable. We've got to look at some of the charging fees because some of them seem to be right out of kilter with charges for the same service in other industries. And there is unscrupulous behaviour by some providers, and some of that behaviour is what's driving the cost up, not the people with disability who deserve our support and get our support and will get our support in the future. But like any manager of money, we have to look at everything and make sure it is sustainable.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I want to hear from Russel Howcroft. What's the feedback on talkback? Because you present a show on 3AW. What are they saying about this?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

We don't cover this subject, at all actually.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

So disability calls don't come in to you?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

No, they don't come in at all. But what this is making me think about is just the need for investment in- I'm going to call it the digitisation of government. Yeah. So just the opportunity to be more efficient and to take opinion away. The great thing about being able to actually conduct- get your services via a digital tool means you don't have to get into any discussions where people may...

BILL SHORTEN:                     

Yeah that's- it's supremely optimistic because the last big digitisation campaign I saw the Government do using algorithms was robodebt, and that was a $2 billion illegal claim made of half a million punters.

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

[Talks over] Yes. That's true. That is true.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

I'm not going to pin that one on you, David, this evening, so you can step to the side of that one.

It's time now for our final question of the evening. Time has flown today. It comes from Prajwal Bhattaram who's in Brisbane.

QUESTION:                           

As much as I appreciate the PM's apology today and his acceptance of responsibility for the mistakes that have plagued the vaccine rollout, it does very little in reality to deal with all the aftermath of the mixed messaging that we've had for the last few months. What do you reckon the governments at all levels need to do to work their way out of confusion that they've created around vaccination, transparently and without any of the political skulduggery or blame games? Is it at all possible that in this moment of need, our governments can pull their act together and for once behave like the responsible adults that they all claim to be?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

We'd like to return to the federation, please, Minister Gillespie. Can we do that? Can everyone actually start working together?

DAVID GILLESPIE:                

Yeah. Well, look, we have been working together, but, as I said at the start, it's a 100-year event. Everyone's under the pump. Everyone's under pressure. The premiers are under pressure. The health system is under pressure. The delivery, securing supplies around the world at the start of it, then securing vaccines, getting production going in our own country, it's been an exceptional period. We will get through this, but we all have to look positive, put our shoulder to the wheel, and look forward, not in the rear vision mirror. Sure, there's been major hiccups and non-delivery of expected vaccines and all these other issues we've spoken about all this evening, but we will get through it. And there's always a difference of opinion about stuff. But look, cherry picking individual areas of conflict, you've got to put that aside. Like the Prime Minister- the Prime Minister has been put in a situation, and the premiers, there's no playbook. This hasn't happened in living memory. And as I said, a lot of my friends in the medical systems of other countries look on us with envy. They just think: how have you done it? So look, we're all shoulder to the wheel. We're going to get through it. The vaccine rollout is speeding up and everyone will get a vaccine if they want it, and the more people that take it up, the better. And there's the horizon of treatment as- on the horizon.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Okay. Let's go through all the panel to get a response to this final question. Libby Trickett?

LIBBY TRICKETT:                   

I just would like them to grow up, to be honest. I just really want our politicians, the people that are in power and are responsible for taking care of our communities to look after us and actually do the job that we've asked them to do. It feels so much like the responsibility and the burden has been placed on the states and on the individual communities. We are the ones who have to stay at home, we are the ones have to go into lockdown and do all of these things and miss out on job opportunities. And the art sector has been crushed. So many people are living away from their families due to lockdowns and things like that. I just want the states and the Federal Government to come together and actually come out with a clear concise plan. It's- however many infected people in the community, okay, that triggers the lockdown. And it's very clear messaging to understand what is going to trigger a lockdown, what is going to trigger siloing LGAs and things like that, just to make it really clear and concise, to make it easier for everybody to breathe a little bit easier and understand the process.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

[Talks over] Well let's hear from the rest of our panel as well. Just briefly if we can. Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN:                     

I think Australians needed hope, to answer the question. I think that we deserve to be told nationally where's the finishing line. There's 13.5 million people locked down. Businesses are screwed. It's tough for families. There's mental health trauma. Where's the finishing line? When can we finish lockdown? And I think we can. But then, what we also need to do is, once we know the number, we need to future proof our country. We need more sophisticated border controls. We need proper research. We need to learn that we're going to live with masks perhaps. But I just wish the Government, the Feds, Mr Morrison, would lead now. I mean, the doctors have done their bit. The scientists have done their bit. The people are doing their bit right now. It's now turn for the Government to step up.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Russel Howcroft?

RUSSEL HOWCROFT:           

Just detail around the four-stage plan, detail around what hurdles you have to jump to go from 1 to 2 to 3, et cetera. Communicate that very hard. Get alignment with all the states and the feds around that plan, and in the meantime, have a very generous floor, financial floor for those that are really finding it very tough. For example, the music industry.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:                 

Astrid Edwards?

ASTRID EDWARDS:              

I'd like to second what Libby said. I think it's time for our decision-makers and leaders to grow up and definitely financial floor for those industries who need it.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: 

And that's all we have time for this evening. Would you please thank our panel: Astrid Edwards, Russel Howcroft, Bill Shorten, Libby Trickett and David Gillespie. And thank you for all your questions and a big shout out to our wonderful audience in Brisbane tonight. It's lovely to see people outside and free. I don't really understand what I'm seeing right now. I'll be back with you next week live in Melbourne, and you can join me tomorrow morning on ABC Radio Melbourne and I hope you do. Stay safe, goodnight, and go well.

Tags: