By Joel Fitzgibbon
16 March 2020
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Well, schools remain open. There are tough new restrictions for our borders. All international arrivals into Australia now need to self-isolate for 14 days.
NATALIE BARR, HOST: Now there's also a ban on cruise ships from foreign ports entering this country for at least 30 days. But is it enough to keep our country safe? Let's bring in Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce, and Shadow Resources Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon. Good morning to you, both. Barnaby, I just heard earlier from this infectious diseases expert that we should be taking more drastic measures. And then we've just heard from the Minister; is the government taking things seriously enough? What do you think?
BARNABY JOYCE, MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND: Well, I think it is and everyone's learning as I go along. I mean, it's quite obvious, we're trying to work this out on the statistical model, a parametric model, which basically says this: the less people contact the less it spreads. You got two choices, Nat. You can have a graph that goes like this, or graph that goes like that. But a graph like goes like this means that we have real pressure on the hospital system, we just don't have the beds to be able to manage those, that small group who gets very sick. And therefore we've got to try and keep the graph with a low trajectory. A low trajectory has the same number of people as the high one, it just that it happens over a longer period of time. So, we do have the capacity to manage that. Now with kids, I suppose there is the school and home. Also with children, I don't pretend to profess to be a doctor in any way, or form - I did the statistics as an accountant though. Now with children, not one child has died throughout the world under the age of nine - well, that was the latest information I got. So, the risk factor with children is less. And I suppose they do have a point that if the children stay at home, then other people have to stay at home with them. And we need to have the nurses in the hospitals and the doctors in the hospitals and, therefore, we have to try and make logical decisions all the way through this.
KOCH: Joel is the Opposition on board with this?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Yeah, I think so, Kochie. Chris Bowen has been out there speaking publicly on a regular basis. And he's been receiving regular updates from the Chief Medical Officer and others. I've never felt so much on the sidelines, Kochie, that's the truth of it. I mean, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will be getting competing advice. You saw examples of that on your program just earlier this morning. And someone's going to make the call. And the truth is Barnaby and I, unfortunately, from our perspective, aren't in the centre of the action, we're not getting the advice, and it's a difficult one for us to call. But, I tend to agree with Barnaby, I tend to agree with the Prime Minister. The problem, I think, is that it will be inevitable that schools will close. I suspect at the moment, it's the best place for our children to be. And Barnaby makes the point. You know, how do the parents go to school - go to work if the kids aren't in school. So, this is a very difficult question. I think. I think the key point, Dan Tehan made, is that we need to properly resource our schools and give the principals and teachers the information and resources they need to both lead, educate and ensure that the spread is not increased.
BARR: Yeah. Barnaby, what information are you getting as far as how many Australians are going to get this?
JOYCE: Well, my brother, you know, it's fortunate my brother's a doctor, and he looks after my parents who are aged and they're the people I really worried about because they're the most vulnerable. More so, my cousin is the director of ICU, Brisbane, PA. So, I'd have to have a yarn to him. My brother's really clear about it. Surfaces, you have to de-sanitise them. If you've got any sign of a cough, a fever, a runny nose, then stay away, you know, and obviously, try to limit your contact as adults who don't have to be looked after at home. If there's the capacity to work from home, then that's what you should do. And this is why I think a more radical plan, the Parliament as a model citizen, has got to look at the ways they minimise the capacity for them to be an example of the of the vector. Now, I'll tell you why. I walk around as a local member, I shake people's hands – hello, how are you? They come up and talk. Now, we got to stop doing that. But I'm always talking to people, hundreds of people whilst I'm away. Then I get on a plane – or I don't, I drive down – get on a plane, I fly to Canberra spread it around the plane. Then in Canberra, I meet Joel, I meet everybody else, and if I've got it, I spread it around the Parliament. Then everybody jumps on a plane and goes back to every corner of Australia. Now, we've got to think about that in our own regard and say how do we limit that from happening? Because not only shouldn't we not do it, we should be an example of not doing it.
KOCH: It's a really good point. All right, Gents, thank you for that. Appreciate your time.