Transcript - Radio Interview - 2GB - Friday, 19 November 2021

Transcript - Radio Interview - 2GB - Friday, 19 November 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

19 November 2021

DEBORAH KNIGHT, HOST: And they join us every Friday, the Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, and the Member for the Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon. Fella's, great to have you with us again, welcome. Now I want to start with the vaccine mandates. We've had the Prime Minister leading by example, he got a booster shot early this morning with Jane, the 84-year-old, of course, who had the country's first vaccine dose with Scott Morrison back in February, she famously gave instead of the victory salute, she gave the two fingers around the wrong way. But she's gone and gotten her booster shot with the PM. But at the same time, we've got Scott Morrison telling Queenslanders who haven't had the job that, okay, don't worry, you've already hit the 80 per cent double dose rate around the country, you don't have to get vaccinated if you don't want to and governments won't tell you what to do. Angus, Scott Morrison and the government, he can't have it both ways here, can he?


ANGUS TAYLOR, MINISTER FOR ENERGY, EMISSIONS REDUCTION, AND INDUSTRY: Well, I don't think that's the correct characterisation of the position of the government, Deb. Our position on mandatory vaccines is that we're not in favour of them. But we are absolutely in favour of people getting on and getting vaccinated. I mean, you've heard me on this program, I don't know how many times, encouraging your listeners to get vaccinated. I was one of the very first to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca twice, of course. And we've encouraged it all the way. But we're not in favour of governments telling people what to do. Now, the good news is that we've got very high levels of vaccination in New South Wales and now in Queensland as well, we've reached 80 per cent. So, it's time to get on with life. And that was the national plan. Premiers need to stick with it.


KNIGHT: We need to get on with life, absolutely, but we also need to get more jabs in arms in Queensland. And for the Prime Minister to single out Queensland to say, well look, fine if you haven't had the jab, we've reached 80 per cent vaccination, you can go get a coffee if you haven't, go and get a coffee at your local coffee shop if you haven't had vaccinations yet, but it undermines the message which still needs to be heard loud and clear in states like Queensland.


TAYLOR: I don't think our message has had any ambiguity. I mean, I don't know how many times I've said it, Deb, and of course, you've been encouraging of that. But we've made it very clear, but this is something completely consistent in saying please go and get the jab, but it is not appropriate for governments to tell you what to do. You know, people are sick of governments telling them what to do. It's been happening for too long. Encouraging them to get the vaccine, yes, governments saying you have to do it or else your life can't continue. That's another thing again.


KNIGHT: And Scott Morrison is also under fire from state leaders in Queensland and Victoria. We've got Premier, Dan Andrews, hitting out on the Today Show this morning. This is some of what he's had to say.



DAN ANDREWS, PREMIER OF VICTORIA: This job is very challenging. You know, this is a 1 in 100-year event, but I'm committed to doing what has to be done and not about chasing through doublespeak the votes of extremists or their preferences. I will not do that, if others choose to do that, well, then that's on them.


JOURNALIST: How is your relationship with the Prime Minister at the moment, Premier?


ANDREWS: It'll be a lot better when he stops double speaking to extremists.


KNIGHT: So, double speaking to extremists. Angus, how can you condemn protesters carrying nooses and gallows in front of the Victorian Parliament, but then say you've got sympathy for them?


TAYLOR: But let's be clear again, Deb. The PM said there can be no tolerance for violence or threats. But he, like me, will recognise the legitimate frustration of Victorians, the most locked down city in the world, and they want to get on with their lives. Fair enough, I would say. And you have got to remember here that Dan Andrews is bringing legislation to his parliament that has been heavily criticised by bodies like the Victorian Bar, the Law Institute of Victoria, the Human Rights Law Council, they're hardly extremist bodies. So, you know, this is a very legitimate point to be making. Let's get vaccinated. We've been saying all along, but we're also saying to the Premier's, please, let's get on with our lives once we've reached those thresholds. And we have been reaching those thresholds.


KNIGHT: It's a slippery slope, though, isn't it, Joel? Giving anti-vaxxers and extremists legitimacy. Because we've seen what happened in the US with the Capitol, storming of the Capitol building, and politicians have been stabbed to death in the UK from extremists as well. Are you concerned?


JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: There were certainly shades of the Capitol Building incident, wasn't there, Deb? I mean, you have to give Angus at least points for loyalty, no matter what the circumstances. And both you and I, Deb, and your listeners know that I don't come onto this segment looking for any and every opportunity to criticise the government. I try to make a constructive contribution and Angus is completely off message today. I think all of your listeners know what this was all about. You called it out earlier on your program. Scott Morrison is bleeding in the polls, and he's not worried about the Greens, he's worried about Clive Palmer and One Nation in Queensland, in particular. So, he decided to get the dog whistle out today and play to that angry and violent crowd and I think Australians everywhere will mark him down for doing so.


KNIGHT: And it's something you know all too well about, though. You nearly lost your seat to One Nation at the last election. It's something that the Prime Minister and the government have got to do well to protect against.


FITZGIBBON: That's true, Deb. I did almost lose my seat to One Nation. And throughout the election campaign, I knew One Nation was polling very heavily, making a pitch to the right. But you know what I didn't do, Deb? I didn't play the game. I didn't seek to save myself, my political skin, by making outrageous comments, as the Prime Minister did this morning.


KNIGHT: Angus, right of reply.


TAYLOR: Hang on, I'm going to respond to that, because it is an absolutely legitimate position to say we should get vaccinated, we should get on with it and get those vaccines in arms, and we've been saying that, as I say, I don't how many times I've said that on the program. But to have a position where it's not the role for government to make it mandatory, now, that's our position. It's completely legitimate. And I think many, many Australians would agree with that, the result of that, we don't need to give them bribes, Australians have largely got on and got vaccinated.


KNIGHT: But largely because the message has been delivered firmly from people like yourself and the Prime Minister to get vaccinated. It seems as though you're sort of saying, you've got to get vaccinated, but if you don't want to, that's okay too.


TAYLOR: No, Deb, we're not. And no, let me finish. You're confusing two different messages. Number one is, please get vaccinated. It's your right to get on and get vaccinated, and we want you to exercise it. The second message is, you must and if you don't do it, your life can’t continue as it would normally continue. Now, that, to confuse those two is basically to say it's the role of government to tell us what to do every day. It's not. It's not. That's not the Australian way. The Australian way is actually we do have choice, but there is a responsibility that comes with that choice and we're asking people to exercise that responsibility.


FITZGIBBON: Deb, if Angus is fortunate enough to go to a restaurant tonight, he will have to both QR code and show his vaccination certificate. These are the rules of government, Deb. And they are there for a very good purpose. All my reading indicates that herd immunity is more like 95 per cent of the population, not 80 per cent. So, we've got to hold the line here. But the Prime Minister walked away today, out of political opportunism.


KNIGHT: You say, Angus, that I'm confusing the message, but you can see why the average punter, the average Australian might be confused here. Because to me, they are both very confusing by saying both of those things...


TAYLOR: ... Are you suggesting that every time something desirable comes along, government should mandate it?


KNIGHT: Well, there are all sorts of things mandated in our lives. I've got to wear a seatbelt. I can't drink drive. When it's a public health issue, when your health is at stake, I'm all for mandating it.


TAYLOR: Except the expert advice told us something very clear. That once you...


KNIGHT: ... To get vaccinated.


TAYLOR: Once you get to a threshold of 80 per cent double vaxxed, then you are at a point where people can get on with their lives. That was the Doherty Institute's advice. Now, the good news is we've gone way past 80. In my electorate, we're at 99 per cent, where I am here...


KNIGHT: ... Yeah, but in Queensland, they're not at those levels. And the Prime Minister singled out Queensland in his comments.


TAYLOR: The Prime Minister has made it very clear that once we get to the 80 per cent, which was the advice, the very clear advice from the Doherty Institute, we need to get on with life. We do need to keep getting vaccinated and we'll keep encouraging that. But it's important that Premiers keep their side of the deal in the national plan.


FITZGIBBON: And Deb, when Angus and I go to the Parliament next week in Canberra, we will both still continue to face restrictions, and we will suck it up because we know it's the right thing to do.


KNIGHT: Alright. I want to end on something positive, well maybe positive actually. The SCG, the new Sydney Football Stadium, they've signed this new deal with Merivale to provide food and catering. Some fancy stuff in the mix along with just the pies and VB. Do we really need steak frites at the footy, I wonder? When you're at the footy, Angus, what's your go to stadium dish?


TAYLOR: Deb, overcooked two-minute steak, charcoal onions, lots of tomato sauce on stale white bread. You can't beat it.


KNIGHT: Goes down a treat. I agree. Joel?


FITZGIBBON: Well, Deb, I don't know whether this has ever been scientifically proven, but I believe that party pies taste better than a normal sized pie...


KNIGHT: ... Oh yeah, a party in your hand.


FITZGIBBON: A party pie washed down with a beer is the best thing you could have at the footy. Now, I'm pleased we're going to have some fancier food for some, but it's bordering on un-Australian if you can't still get a pie at the footy.


KNIGHT: Yeah, well I agree. I love a good party pie. Party in your hand, how good is that? Fella's, thanks for joining us. It's always spirited debate and we welcome it on a Friday for question time. Thanks again.