NATALIE BARR, HOST: Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout is set to accelerate this week as the number of medical centres distributing the jab doubles. New South Wales will open dozens of new vaccinations super-clinics, while Victoria has urged the Federal Government to ask the States for more assistance.
TIM PALLAS, VICTORIAN TREASURER: One of the great difficulties, I think, that the Commonwealth have is they're trying to build a system of mass-vaccination that the States and Local Government already have a capacity for.
BARR: Australia is expected to pass the million dose milestone in the coming days. For their take, I'm joined by Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce, and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. Morning to you.
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Good morning.
BARR: Barnaby, you know, we've been talking about this for a week now. Is using the existing State infrastructure the solution to increasing the Federal Government's vaccine rollout?
BARNABY JOYCE, MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND: Well, we accept that we're behind where we'd like to be, that 1-4 million, we're about to hit 1 million, but that's going to pick up now. They're doubling the number of clinics that are providing it. We're very lucky in Australia that we don't have the problems that they've got, you know, in the countries where well, I think Brazil, 350,000 people have died from Coronavirus, over 70,000 new cases just in a day. We don't have those problems, because we've done the job well. And now we've got to, you know, the vaccine rollout will start to kick and I think arguing between the States and the Federal Government is, you know, it's good for television, but really doesn't make much of a difference because we haven't really got the problems they've got overseas.
BARR: Yeah. Joel, look, there's no doubt the Government has done an amazing job with the Coronavirus handling all last year. No one's denying that. But right now, you know, people are losing their jobs, things are being shut down, and lots of people are being affected by these shutdowns. So we keep saying it's, you know, there's no hurry. Do you think there is?
FITZGIBBON: There is a hurry, Nat, because we can't get the economy running again until we have broad ranging vaccination. And of course, we'll continue to be concerned about people in nursing homes and the way in which they have been locked down until we get broad vaccination. Now this is a classic case of over promise and under deliver. The Government said it would do 4 million people by the end of March, it's not yet done a million. And of course, it did something that is difficult to do last week, and that is to absolutely unite the States in their condemnation of the Federal Government. But I think, you know, we have done well in the past and politicians of all political persuasions have done their best not to bring politics into this equation. But that's exactly what the Federal Government did last week when it tried to blame the states for its own problems. It's time to unite again, and get on with the job.
BARR: Yeah, well let's hope that happens this week, because people don't like this blame game. They just want to get it done, don't they? And it sounds like with these vaccination clinics, you know, being rolled out with the States, maybe it'll increase. Look, the government is expected to endorse every key finding of the review into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. Seven News understands the PM will respond to the Respect at Work report this week, which calls for the Sexual Discrimination Act to be amended, including making harassment a valid reason for dismissal. Barnaby, the Coalition's culture crisis is currently under the microscope, as we know. Is this an opportunity for Scott Morrison to make a strong statement here?
JOYCE: Look, I think it's, obviously, events have made it essential that something happens and we can see that happening. Look, I don't, I think it's really important that people understand that there's not this sort of ubiquitous, generic craziness in Parliament House. Overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, it's a decent place. Overwhelmingly, people treat each other with respect, to certain instances are obviously completely vile, and they've come to the fore and it needs to be dealt with. I don't think you can actually redesign people's brains, but you can create the environment where people feel protected at work, and I think that's what we have got to do. And I'm 100 per cent supportive of that. People should be able to go to work and feel that, you know, their rights are protected.
BARR: Well, redesigning people's brains, isn't that what they've sent Laming off to do? To do this empathy training to teach him empathy, Barnaby?
JOYCE: Well, as you probably read in the paper, I think empathy is more innate than learned. I don't think you can teach someone empathy. You can instruct them about what the guidelines are they need to work within and if they don't want to work within them, they don't have a job. That, I suppose you can do, but I don't know how you teach somebody empathy. I think you can appeal for empathy in someone and tell them what the rules are. That's basically how I see it working.
BARR: So, didn't you go to this empathy training the other day?
JOYCE: Yeah, it was, oh look - because myself and Hollie Hughes and Stephen Jones and Zali Steggall, so it wasn't like they picked me out for empathy training. And it was interesting, but we live in a - see, what you've got to realise, in Parliament, my job is to actually, is to make sure Joel doesn't have a job, and Joel's job is to make sure I don't have a job. It's different, It's not like working for the ANZ bank, where we all want the bank to go well, or Channel Seven where everybody wants Channel Seven to go well. It's a strange environment, where I actually have to take Joel out, Joel has to take me out. So, empathy training in that environment is, you know, it's a little bit more difficult. I have to respect the work Joel does, he has to respect the work I do, I have to treat him with respect in the corridors. But when we’re on this show, or when we're on the 7:30 Report, or when we're in a debate, I actually have to beat him.
BARR: But Joel, I think a lot of people in workplaces around Australia would dispute that it's not cutthroat, and people aren't after each other's jobs and trying to work their way up the line.
FITZGIBBON: Yeah, that line will certainly lack credibility, Nat. But Barnaby does make a point, we work in a very peculiar and unique environment. And while it is true that you probably can't teach empathy, just like you can't legislate against stupidity, I think MPs and people more broadly in the community can learn from others about the way they see the world and the way that they listen to people's concerns, and therefore the way in which they should react to those concerns. I don't think any of us are incapable of learning. We should learn every day and there's no harm in taking some professional guidance.
BARR: Okay. Well, we thank you for your time. Appreciate it. And wherever you're driving to Barnaby, I hope you get there. Thank you very much.
JOYCE: I had to find where 4G works near Bendemeer. It's beautiful. Have a look at this, there you go.
FITZGIBBON: Double demerits, Barnaby.
BARR: No, well, yeah well, hopefully we'll let you off the double demerits. You haven't got your hands on the phone, have you?
JOYCE: I'm not going anywhere. That's what I'm trying to hold it up with. A present. My son's present.
BARR: Life in the country. Okay.
JOYCE: That's it.
BARR: Thanks very much. See you next week.