Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Transcript: Interview with Ben Fordham, Ben Fordham Live, 2GB

8 February 2021

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
E&OE

BEN FORDHAM:

Now, how do you feel about no jab, no fly? Because Aussies could soon be carrying proof of vaccination certificates. They would be accessed on your smartphone, there can also be paper versions, and this would help speed up the easing of restrictions in a whole range of areas, including travel. And maybe interstate travel could involve vaccination passports too. The federal government is finalising the plans as we speak, and Stuart Robert is the Government Services Minister. He's on the line. Minister, good morning to you.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Ben, how are you doing?

BEN FORDHAM:

Doing well. So will it be no jab, no fly?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, that's more like a question for airline industries and a question for the Attorney-General. The key thing that we've got to put in place is the assurance that when Australians get vaccinated, they get a certificate and they get confirmation that they've got it. And we're going to use the current immunisation register registered- it's been going for over half a decade and that Australians can access right now.

BEN FORDHAM:

So that's just on your Medicare card, right?

MINISTER ROBERT:

You can get a Medicare express app, you can go to MyGov, you can call Services Australia for paper copy. But millions of Australians access it right now. So there's really no change except it's beefed up, a lot more secure, and we'll continue to build it out over the coming weeks and months to make it a lot easier and more flexible.

BEN FORDHAM:

Just to clarify, when we talk about the Medicare app, there's a paper version as well if we have this so-called vaccination passport. So to anyone who doesn't have a mobile phone, you can just have the hard copy.

MINISTER ROBERT:

That's right, yeah. Only about 89 per cent of people like to use a smartphone. We tend to think everyone does, but it's not the case. So they'll be able to have a hard copy either from their vaccination provider or from Services Australia.

BEN FORDHAM:

Okay, if this is being developed, it does lead to the assumption that people are going to need to prove they've had the jab to do certain things, correct?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, the vaccination register already exists - there's nothing new, we're just building it out to make it more accessible and more portable. A lot of this is driven internationally where the moves that you must have a vaccination certificate to fly are happening right now - airlines are using common pass, for example. And now in terms of states and territories, we'll leave that to the state and territory public health orders, and that's what Cabinet's will work through. I want to make sure that every Australian has got that assurance if they need it.

BEN FORDHAM:

Should businesses have the right to refuse people who aren't vaccinated?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Yeah, it's a really big question. Generally, when it comes to workplace health and safety orders the law sits with the states and territories - so states have traditionally used public health orders to answer that question and different states have approached it different ways - hence why the centrality of the National Cabinet and what Prime Minister Morrison is doing is actually really important.

BEN FORDHAM:

So when it comes to the airlines, individual airlines will be able to decide the rules? Whether we're talking about international or interstate travel?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well it's happening now overseas. And this is where the airline travel associations have pulled together a concept called Common Pass. In terms of Australia, we're going to leave that to the Attorney-General who's in discussions as we speak. But it's happening internationally, so it's really important that we ensure that Australians have got proof of vaccination depending upon what the requirements are, especially overseas, where we have no jurisdiction, of course.

BEN FORDHAM:

So when it comes to the vaccine rollout, there's a lot of pressure on the federal government to get it right. You accept that if there are mistakes made here, it's going to cost you dearly?

MINISTER ROBERT:

I think the expectations are very high. But again, I believe we've delivered very strongly, especially at the very last digital year of 2020. And there's a lot of preparation, a lot of hard work, and generally, if you prepare well, you'll deliver well.

BEN FORDHAM:

I'm guessing you'll get the jab?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Absolutely.

BEN FORDHAM:

When will you be able to get it?

MINISTER ROBERT:

I think in line with all other Australians, Australians who are over 50. So I think I'll be sort of class 2B or something like that. I would have thought in the middle of a year. About the same time you're getting it.

BEN FORDHAM:

And you'd protect the right of any airline to say, we've got this rule in place, you're not going to jump on this flight if you do not have the jab.

MINISTER ROBERT:

I think it's got less to do with what I think and more to do what the either civil or common law rights are. And again, this is where the Attorney-General is working through these because it's quite profound questions. Certainly international carriers are moving in this direction. And the AG will get clarity, as will the states and territories and their public health orders, as the weeks turn into months because they are really important questions.

BEN FORDHAM:

Yeah, it's going to be an interesting one to watch. Stuart Robert, thanks for your time.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Great to talk to you, Ben.

[ENDS]

Page last updated: 8 February 2021