DAVID KOCH, HOST: Now the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Australia within 48 hours in what the Health Minister has called a high security operation. 80,000 Pfizer vaccine doses will be tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and then distributed to hospital hubs and aged care centres right around the country, with the first jabs likely to be administered early next week. For their take, we're joined by Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce, and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. Gents, morning to you. Barnaby, how confident are you that the vaccine rollout will start successfully?
BARNABY JOYCE, MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND: Well, I'm absolutely confident that if we can get more people vaccinated, we've got more chance of controlling the disease and more chance of bringing down our debt, and more chance of making sure the economies and small businesses are going again. Australia has been lucky that we haven't had the incidents like they've had in the United States or in Brazil, or in Europe. So, as soon as we can do it, the better. But we're not in the condition that they're in. And might I also say I'd like to congratulate both the Duke and the Duchess who are both pregnant. That is a turn up for the books.
KOCH: You were expecting them to have another baby Barnaby?
JOYCE: Well, when the Duke has a baby – when the Duke has a baby, I will be telling my Dad, who is vet, that this is a remarkable event truly worth celebrating.
KOCH: All right, ok it's a lockdown baby. All right let's get back on the vaccinations, and Joel, biggest vaccination campaign in history. More than 172 million doses have been administered around the world. And we're doing this pretty well aren't we? So, we should be able to get it right?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: It's great news, Kochie, that we're close to rolling out the vaccination. That's a good thing for the economy. It's good for all the Australian people. Many other countries, of course, have been doing it for many weeks. We seem to be slow off the mark. But getting it right is the main thing. And let's hope that it's the next step to getting the economy back to some normality, because there were a lot of people out there doing it very tough.
KOCH: Yeah, and Barnaby, this is the vaccine that's got to be transported at minus 70 degrees. So, a huge logistical exercise to get it around the country. And it's a big country, and a long way to come here.
JOYCE: It is, Kochie, but there are other ways we can assist with this. I've been speaking to vets and there are a lot of vet practices that have the capacity to store that vaccine as well. So, I think if we just coordinate and use our heads, we're going to be able to do it. And so, if both in hospitals and some doctors’ surgeries and some vet surgeries – and because we're not expecting to vaccinate everybody immediately, but the more we get vaccinated, the more we have a capacity to get an immunity across the community.
KOCH: Yeah. Joel, you bring up one of the criticisms that we've been a bit slow compared with the rest of the world to get these vaccines going. Has the government also done enough to convince everyone to get the jab when it eventually gets here?
FITZGIBBON: Look, I support the marketing campaign, Kochie. It is important that people have confidence in the vaccine, we can't expect them to have that confidence if we're not selling it. That's a good thing. Still disappointed, of course, the number of MPs running interference on this process and undermining that, that public conference. But look, Australians are eminently sensible. They'll be watching what's happening around the rest of the world. Many Australians have told me that, of course, they are not in a hurry to be vaccinated. They'd rather sit back and wait to see how it runs on other people. I understand that and that reinforces the need to have a strong marketing campaign to work together to ensure that public confidence is built.
KOCH: Yeah. And that public confidence, Barnaby, sort of has been a bit shaken with the – with the lockdown situation in Victoria at the moment. They've stopped taking Australian overseas arrivals. Dan Andrews sort of floating the idea last week that we should stop all international arrivals, even Australians, wanting to return from overseas that – that's a bit extreme isn’t it? Shouldn't we just focus on getting hotel quarantine, right?
JOYCE: Yes, of course. And we should focus on getting other facilities, especially in regional areas, going. Dan Andrews, to be quite frank, is – I don't know what game he's playing but it's over the top. You see an example of it today where Melbourne – fair enough areas absolutely in lockdown. No problems about that. But Mildura 600 kilometres away. I mean, it's just illogical. I mean, why would you do that? The epidemiological consequences and issues for Mildura – you may as well be in Perth. You could as well be, you know, in the Northern Territory and this is what's really kicking the economy down and unfortunately, Victoria's had the worst result and getting people off JobKeeper. We've got 2.3 million people off JobKeeper, but not Victoria. And sure enough, you wait, Chairman Dan will be ringing up saying I need more money, things are tough. Well, Dan Andrews, just like Anastasia Palaszczuk, you're doing it to yourself. Follow the epidemiological issues, follow the reasoning behind the disease, and don't follow the parochialism. And another form of parochialism, saying no more international travels. What – what are we going to live as – how does Australia work? You can't do that. You're going to crash the economy.
KOCH: Yep, alright Gents. Thank you for that. Have a good week. See you next week.