Transcript: 6PR Perth Live with Oliver Peterson
Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC
OLIVER PETERSON: Speaking of COVID-19, the path out, we have been told now and agreed to at National Cabinet again last week, is these vaccination targets of 70 per cent of eligible Australians; 80 per cent and we may avoid lockdowns altogether. We had quite a detailed conversation yesterday afternoon around this $300 cash for jabs proposal by the Australian Labor leader, Anthony Albanese. It's getting a lot of political mileage, but I still believe it's nothing more than just a gimmick. If you like it, if you think that's going to be a sense of encouragement, 133-882. WA Senator and Social Services Minister Linda Reynolds joins me live from Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon. Senator, welcome to the program.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Great to be with you, Oli, from freezing Canberra.
OLIVER PETERSON: Well, it's starting to warm up here in Perth. Tomorrow, sunny at 20 degrees. You should come home.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Just rub it in. I'd love to come home but unfortunately we can't.
OLIVER PETERSON: You can't at the moment. The $300 from the Labor Party has got everybody talking, but it doesn't seem to have support of your governments.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Well, not at all, and I think you summed it up really nicely, Oli. Look, I just don't think you can put a price on saving lives. And it's quite frankly insulting to think that you'd have to pay Australians to do the right thing. You know, we've done over 12.5 million vaccinations so far. And the issue is not to demand at the moment, it's supply. So Labor is- are trying to fix the wrong problem because Australians- and Australians know that. They're not silly and they really understand the issue of the epidemic and financial incentive- as I said, you can't pay people to do the right thing. Australians are doing the right thing because they know that not only will it protect themselves, it will protect their family members and their friends and their communities. So, they're trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
OLIVER PETERSON: Unfortunately, though, in WA, we're about 2 per cent below the national average, which is now getting up towards 20 per cent. We're struggling to get to 18. And of course, in the Pilbara and the Kimberley, that's looking like just 8 per cent of the population is vaccinated. So, if 300 bucks isn't going to solve it, how do you encourage more West Australians, Senator, to roll up their arms to get the jab?
LINDA REYNOLDS: Well, I think it's making it more known in Western Australia about where and how you can go and get vaccinated, how you can register. But I think the case that you've just talked about in Western- the potential case in Western Australia is a really important reminder of the need not to be complacent. And so what I'd say to any West Australian who's thinking today, yes, I will go and get it but I'll do it later, now is the time to go in and really look at your options and book it in. You know, your pharmacy, your GP, Claremont Showgrounds, or you know, some of the many other places. So, please go and go and get it. I mean, you had to look at today. There was a 20-year-old young man in Sydney who died at home from COVID. You know, we've got the outbreak now of the Delta strain in Cairns. It was there in the community. They didn't know about it. So I think it's about not being complacent in Western Australia. And West Australians, you know, we're a competitive lot, and I think if more West Australians knew that we were coming last nationally, you know, that should be an incentive in itself to actually sort of push ourselves up through the rankings.
OLIVER PETERSON: Yeah, we have that blitz, obviously, and it's now over the 30 plus year olds. But those figures, particularly in the Pilbara and the Kimberley, as the Minister for Government Services, that must really concern you.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Look, it does concern me, and I think that more does need to be done in regional and remote Australia, particularly in Indigenous communities, which is why we've prioritised the rollout in pharmacies so that now, in remote and regional Western Australia, pharmacies will be able to give the injections. But we do need to do more, not just in Western Australia, but nationally.
OLIVER PETERSON: Would you ever link the vaccination towards Australians' welfare payments?
LINDA REYNOLDS: No.
OLIVER PETERSON: [Talks over] So that'll-
LINDA REYNOLDS: I wouldn't. I wouldn't personally. And we certainly haven't been looking at that. And so, you know, it's not mandatory. We are looking at next month to make it mandatory for people who work in aged care. And I'd very much like to see states and territories include disability workers as well. But at the moment, we're relying on people's goodwill and that's exactly what's happening, Oli. People are turning up. They're getting the jab. We don't need to be paid to do the right thing.
OLIVER PETERSON: Yeah, well, look, I made a comment yesterday, Senator, that the motivation for me is not dying and doing it for the community, getting those state and federal, or international borders down once again, and getting our freedoms back. I think that's a pretty big incentive to get back to life as we knew what it was.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Absolutely. And as you said, we've just released what's called the Doherty Report this week. We got the Doherty Institute to do a really thorough review of what's happening here and overseas now with the Delta strain, because the Delta strain is really a game changer. It's twice as infectious. And it is, as we can see what's happening in New South Wales, it needs to be dealt with and dealt with really quickly. So we've now got a plan of how to actually move forward. And again, it's not time-based. We want this as soon as possible. So on all of that research, it says that we can move to a transition phase when 70 per cent of adults over 16 are fully vaccinated. Now for West Australians, that doesn't just mean a national average. It also means every state and territory has to have got that target as well. So to move- to minimise it- so it's a balance between illnesses and deaths and opening up freedoms. And the more people who are vaccinated, the quicker we can actually get to life more as we knew it, and including travelling domestically and then overseas.
OLIVER PETERSON: Do you reckon we're going to require that digital passport to, not only go overseas, but travel domestically?
LINDA REYNOLDS: Look, domestically, I don't- possibly. But it's not actually a passport. So what we've done is Australians, when you get immunised, you go on to the Services Australia, what's called the air database, and people can actually access their immunisation records through their myGov accounts and through the Medicare app. So not only can you see your vaccinations, but we've now released a COVID certificate which you can generate. So the power rests with you to generate that certificate. You can now, as of this week, you can store that in your Apple Wallet or in your Google Wallet. But we continually develop new certificates, so that as people want to start travelling overseas, we're doing things that match up with what they're doing overseas so people can actually demonstrate in a fraud-proof way that they have actually been vaccinated, which obviously when we have more people come back to Australia, we want to be sure that they have been vaccinated with a vaccine that we approve. And conversely, when we go overseas, other nations are going to want to know that we've been fully vaccinated. So that's the sort of- we're working on that at the moment and we'll- looking to have that in place by the end of this year.
OLIVER PETERSON: Okay. As you and I've been talking, I've managed to open the Medicare app, because I knew you could see your immunisation history. But I've just learnt something and actually added my COVID-19 digital certificate to my Apple Wallet. And it comes up. It's pretty easy to find. It's now a green certificate, which does say: Certificate COVID-19, Australian Government, Oliver J Peterson, with my birth date, document number, the validity and a big white tick in a green box. I'm good to go.
LINDA REYNOLDS: You've got the big white tick, Oli. Well done.
OLIVER PETERSON: [Laughs]
LINDA REYNOLDS: And as you said, it is that easy. People need to have myGov account. Get your Medicare app updated. So update it through Apple or Google. And you can go on, have a look at your vaccination. You can generate the app and you're good to go.
OLIVER PETERSON: So that will be the certificate. That's all you will eventually they should that become the law or mandated if you need a digital certificate. It's as simple as that. That's all you'll need to potentially travel overseas?
LINDA REYNOLDS: No. That's actually now to give you that initial assurance, or people, others, if you want to demonstrate that you have been vaccinated, to give people confidence here in Australia, if you need it, if you want to generate it, that you have been vaccinated. So that's to provide initial assurance. We're working on a certificate that meets international standards for later this year, which will then be acceptable globally when you travel.
OLIVER PETERSON: All right. Linda Reynolds, I appreciate your time. We'll let you get back to freezing cold Canberra.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Just send it away. Thanks so much, Oli.
OLIVER PETERSON: That is Linda Reynolds, WA Senator and the Minister for Government Services.