Transcript - Television Interview - Sunrise - Monday, 10 January 2022

Transcript - Television Interview - Sunrise - Monday, 10 January 2022 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

10 January 2022

MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: Joining us now is Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. Good morning to you both. Well, let's start with you, Barnaby. Within hours of Novak Djokovic's submission, the government applied for an adjournment. Are you concerned that the strength of Novak Djokovic's case is going to allow him to overturn this visa cancellation?


BARNABY JOYCE, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'll let the court do the court's job and proceedings follow the way they do. I'll rely for my part on the fact that it was made quite clear by the Health Minister Greg Hunt, we've all read the letter, I have, and it was quite clear, it said that having COVID is not enough. You have to be double-vaxed. And it was black and white. It was as clear as that in the letter, and I'll let the court make their deliberations over it.


MONIQUE WRIGHT, HOST: Do you think he shouldn't have come then, Barnaby?


JOYCE: Well, it's a question for Novak. If I was in the same position, I wouldn't have. But the issue is not about me. It's about what he's decided to do. And now it's before the court and the court will come to their deliberations and their understanding of how the facts were. But it is a fact that Greg Hunt sent a letter to Tennis Australia, it was quite clear, it said that if people are coming out, just saying I've had COVID is not enough. You have to be double-vaxed and Mr Djokovic apparently isn't.


SHIRVINGTON: Joel, Craig Tiley, head of TA said that there was a lot of finger pointing going on, a little bit of miscommunication between federal government, state government, Tennis Australia. Who do you think is at fault here?


JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Well, Matt, we know it's never Scott Morrison's fault, is it? I don't know whether Barnaby has read Novak's submission to the Federal Court, but it's no wonder having read it myself that his lawyers, that is the government's lawyers, Barnaby's lawyers, immediately sought an extension of time because it's a pretty compelling case, I have to say. We have to wait and see what the court says. But it's a pretty powerful case. And it will be interesting to see how this thing pans out. But he came here with much more than a letter as Barnaby suggested, much more than a letter, a certificate from the medical expert panel working under Tennis Australia. Now, if Scott Morrison was looking for a distraction, something to turn attention away from their inability to secure rapid antigen tests, empty supermarket shelves, and long queues. He's certainly achieved that. But this is really hurting our international reputation. And I think Novak Djokovic has been treated terribly.


WRIGHT: Barnaby, just picking up on something that Joel just said there about our reputation internationally, and we are getting caned, particularly your government. Do you think that that's fair and are you concerned about that?


JOYCE: Well, we'll do what's right, and we'll do what follows the process that's equivalent for all people, including Australians. We're not making special exemptions for people because they're rich or they're famous. That's not how Australia works. And it's certainly not the mail we're getting. Australians want everybody treated fairly, but equally. Now, Mr Djokovic can get on a plane from whatever part of the world he likes, the issue is once you land here. We don't interview you when you get on the plane in Serbia, or when you get on the plane in New York, or London, or Paris. It's what happens when you arrive here. And it was made quite clear by the federal government that you had to have had… be double-vaccinated. The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, made that absolutely black and white clear, and what other people decide to do, they decide that they have an exemption around that, or Tennis Australia told them something about it, or the Victorian government, the Victorian government said it was okay or Tennis Australia said that it was okay. Well, they don't make the decisions. That's not where the laws come from.  It comes from the federal government.


SHIRVINGTON: Well, we're going to get an outcome of that court case. And no doubt we'll be talking to you about that in the coming days. Let's move on, workforce shortages due to COVID positives and close contacts is increasing massively. Up to 35 per cent some industries are reporting staff shortages. Barnaby, what more can be done from the government to fix this?


JOYCE: Well, they're changing what is a close contact now and I think we just have to accept like, the Omicron variant of COVID is everywhere. It is, like we're having 120,000 people tested and 40,000 people of them have the Omicron variant. There would be a lot of people who are doing the rapid antigen test and just staying at home. So, we've got to accept that this the Omicron variant, as I said, I had it myself, it’s going to be everywhere and it is everywhere. Now, obviously, by reason of isolation or people in the food industry isolating, and of course, this causes problems in the delivery of a crucial outcome which is groceries, but we're dealing with that, and we're making sure that we keep people at work, because that's how we keep food on the shelves. And we've got to make sure that we don't have panic buying. It just, that doesn't help. We're not going to run out of food, okay. We're not running out of food. But if people panic buy, whether it's toilet paper, or RAT tests, or onions, then it's not the case that you can't supply it, it's a case that there's an unreasonable swooping up of a product off the shelf. The good thing about this is we're learning how to live with this virus, and I think that everybody accepts now this Omicron variant is everywhere. And we've just got to get on with our lives and live it.


WRIGHT: Okay Joel, shortening the amount of time that somebody needs to isolate if they're close contact, if you're in the food supply chain staffing area, would you be doing something different to that.


FITZGIBBON: Well, that's a good thing, but it's reactive. The problem we have here is a lack of pre-planning. People, if they're feeling a little bit unwell have to be able to secure a test, either the more complex test or a rapid antigen test, but out here in the regions and in particular, in Queensland, where I've just been, I know Barnaby is there now, they're as rare as hen's teeth. You can't secure a rapid antigen test. So, people have to play it safe and stay at home, sometimes unnecessarily and that's impacting on all of us. And again, we can see that every time we now walk into a supermarket where those shelves are becoming increasingly empty.


SHIRVINGTON: Very, very different trying to stockpile toilet paper to papayas or mangoes. But thank you very much, gentlemen. Barnaby, thank you so much. Joel, thank you.