Transcript - ABC Afternoon Briefing [24 June 2020]

June 24, 2020

SUBJECTS: COVID-19; State borders; CaLD communications

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Time now for my political panel Labor MP Anne Aly and Liberal MP Tim Wilson join me for this panel. Welcome to both of you.

ANNE ALY: Thank you Patricia.

KARVELAS: Tim Wilson I'll start with you as a Victorian. Victoria has recorded its eighth straight day of new COVID cases in the double digits.  Are Victorians treating the pandemic differently to others around the country. What's happening in Victoria?

TIM WILSON: Well it seems like there's lots of things happening in Victoria but because we've seen clearly a relaxed attitude to the quarantine we're now seeing an outbreak and we need to clamp down on it. I mean the reality is we've tolerated too much behaviour that shouldn't have been permitted in the extreme circumstances we face. Obviously we've seen protests and up to ten thousand people that led the public to think well this isn't that serious clearly by the outbreak and now we're in a situation where we're all going to pay the price. You know I get that the State Government's been distracted by internal corruption investigations and the like, but we really need them focused on COVID and quarantine and that's what we need the people of Victoria to do as well.

KARVELAS: Should the ADF been brought in earlier?

WILSON: Well this is a thing that the State Opposition has called in and we're more than happy to comply as the Commonwealth and because clearly there has been some failures but it's ultimately that was a decision to request that had to come from the State Government and clearly they've lost control of the situation. Other state governments have stayed on top of it. Dan Andrews' government has not maintained control and now we're having to step in to assist.

KARVELAS: I've just got to pick you up on that. I will get to you Anne Aly but some of your colleagues are not using the same tone you just used. There's this sort of sense of National Cabinet solidarity and even Gladys Berejiklian said a little earlier this week, you know, this is a little bit about luck this could have happened in New South Wales. But you're saying Dan Andrews is responsible for this out of control situation?

WILSON: Well what I'm saying is there are a number of issues that are being presented. We know that there are protests that shouldn't have gone ahead...

KARVELAS: But that happened in New South Wales too Tim Wilson. It didn't just happen in Victoria.

ALY: And WA.

WILSON: Well I'm sorry. That's not true. The New South Wales State Government came out very clearly and categorically at the start and fought them going ahead because they knew the public health risks. Dan Andrews waited for the last minute press conference on a Friday afternoon to say well maybe people shouldn't do it. It's about tone and it's about the seriousness of the situation and the State Government, the Andrews Government, has been found wanting and that's the problem. They've been distracted by other internal issues. They should be focused on quarantine. This is very serious. The people of Victoria are going to pay a very high price and in many cases where people have done 100 percent the right thing every step of the way.

KARVELAS: Anne Aly I'll give you a right of reply before I ask you a very specific question I heard you say and WA, yes there were protests in WA too.

ALY: Yeah absolutely. There were protests around Australia Patricia. I don't think that you can blame it specifically on that. I do think it is luck of the draw but it also reflects the reality that each state has different demographics, different kind of behaviours and that each state should be determining what's best for the state on the best medical advice that they have.

KARVELAS: I want to ask you Anne Aly on that issue I spoke to Bill Shorten on this program yesterday and when I asked him about the protests, and that point that's been made by some Liberals, including just then Tim Wilson, he said he did think a lot of people were cheesed off about people going to this protest and that it sent a sort of message on it, and I don't want to be paraphrasing too incorrectly, listen to the interview it's on iView. Do you agree? People got cheesed off?

ALY: Well I certainly heard some people who were against the protests and who were who were worried more than cheesed off I guess that the protests would see a second wave happening that certainly hasn't happened in other States it has happened in Victoria which suggests that there were probably other extenuating factors.

KARVELAS: OK. WA state borders were due to reopen, Anne Aly, from August the 8th. But the Premier Mark McGowan has now pushed that back indefinitely and he names Victoria as the reason. Is Mark McGowan right to keep WA closed? I mean we're seeing sort of double digits sure in Victoria but is it really a good enough reason to keep a border closed?

ALY: I think it is. I think it is and I think it's WA's hard border closure that has really prevented community transmission or huge community transmission within Western Australia. It's really served our state very well. And Mark McGowan has a lot of support here in WA for ensuring that those borders remain closed and particularly what we're seeing with this second surge in Victoria. I think reinforces that decision and I think he's doing a great job in making that decision and making it a very decisive decision. It's not an easy decision to make but it is a decisive decision and one that protects our community.

KARVELAS: Tim Wilson - borders has been an ongoing debate but of course the Victorian cluster cases are shifting the debate a little. Even the New South Wales Premier sort of saying she does not think she wants Melbournians to visit New South Wales or Sydney. What do you make of that is that sort of the message that you think should be shared from the New South Wales Premier because there's not a hard border closure, but what, businesses shouldn't deal with Victorians apparently?

WILSON: I don't think that's what she saying. What the New South Wales Premier is saying is exercise caution and I agree people should exercise caution. But it shouldn't just be New South Wales residents exercising caution. Victorians should exercise caution and adhere to the rules as well as people in other states should do so in continuing to properly socially distance. What we know is that we have challenges in specific sections of the community, particularly in the outer south east and also in the north, north-east of the of Melbourne metropolitan area. Everybody should exercise caution but the measures should be targeted and specific to make sure that we can hopefully contain the issues that those communities face. Because I think one of the things we have to do and we've always had to do is maintain public confidence and sustainability about the measures that are being taken throughout this COVID crisis. I think that's part of the reason why we're in this problem is that this situation is that, I think, public confidence has been declining as a consequence of the then misenforcement, shall we say, of the inconsistent enforcement of the law.

KARVELAS: Anne Aly even before this spike in Victoria an expert panel warned the Federal Government that engagement with migrant communities was ad hoc. Anne Aly is that something that you think has been mismanaged?

ALY: Well I was calling for data to be collected with regards to migrant communities. I've met with migrant communities here in Western Australia and they've been telling me that the messages aren't getting through to some of their grassroots members. And I've been calling for a communications campaign that allows community organisations to pass on important health information directly to their constituencies. I do think that we've kind of missed the ball here. We need to be looking at human behaviour and particularly human behaviour when it comes to health messaging and I think this crisis has really shed a light on that. I think that we need to do more research on human behaviour and how we then craft our messages to ensure that different cohorts of the population are getting the messages in ways that are linguistically and culturally appropriate and that speak to them. I understand that there's been some work now done and there's been a paper put out by Professor Andrew Jakubowicz on the migrant communities and the spread of Covid within migrant communities particularly where they congregate around big families and particularly when they are in industries where they work close together for example on factory floors. This is something that we should have picked up a lot earlier.

KARVELAS: Look Tim Wilson I'm not gonna have time for a right of reply for you. But you will be back on this show because you're a regular panellist so we'll park it, you'll be back. Thank you so much to both of you.