9.38am | December 07, 2021




SUBJECTS: Covid vaccine for kids, Federal anti-corruption commission, Powering Australia Plan, Climate Change, Kate Jenkins review. 
PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Time now for my political panel. It is Liberal MP Katie Allen and Labor Senator Jenny McAllister. Welcome to both of you. Katie Allen, we heard that the WA government plans to open once 90% of over 12 is a fully vaccinated, but now the AMA says young children should be included in that target before opening the borders. Is that fair enough?
KATIE ALLEN: No. I think that no jurisdiction has been looking at border closure relating to the under 12 age groups. They are two separate issues. The TGA has approved the under 12 Pfizer vaccine which is a different dose, and we are waiting to hear from ATAGI about the recommendations for Australian children. The second thing is WA and its orders. They are certainly hesitant. They have not had as much COVID or exposure but possibly unnecessarily overly cautious, and we still have to wait to see what ATAGI is going to say about vaccination for the 5- 12 -year-olds. It is also worth saying that it is up to parents to make decisions for their children, particularly when we're talking about keeping the children safe, and we are watching all of the data overseas in a very careful way, but I think this is important.
KARVELAS: Jenny McAllister, I would like your commentary on whether this is overkill. None of this was in the National roadmap that was about reopening our state borders, but I would also like to hear from you on whether you think the vaccine should be compulsory for children. We have seen mandatory vaccine targets for instance in some professions. What do you make of forcing children at some point you have the vaccine?
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES AND THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE: Thanks, Patricia. Before I answer that, this is probably the last time I will appear on your program, and I just wanted to say congratulations on your new job. You have been tough but fair on this program and I appreciated it.
KARVELAS: We will speak again in my new role but…
MCALLISTER: On your question. This news about the vaccine being available to children, I think will be welcomed by parents. I think it has been an enormous concern to parents that there has been a lack of clarity about how to protect younger people, and so I think certainly in my community, people will be pleased to see this first stage of the approval process coming through. I think, like so many other things, I think it is probably too early to start talking about mandating vaccines for children. The evidence actually is that Australians really wanted to get vaccinated once the vaccine was available. The issue all along has been supply, and I think that will be the case here. Really, what we're looking for now is for the Commonwealth Government to explain
what its plans are to roll out the vaccination to under 12’s.  We are yet to really hear anything about that process.
KARVELAS: It is interesting you raise that. Katie Allen, I would love to get your thoughts given you know quite a lot about vaccinations and epidemiology. Talk me through this. Do you think we should be rolling out a school-based program next year, particularly for disadvantaged kids? I have always wondered, there’s a cohort of very pushy parents who know how to use the apps and make the bookings, but for a wider group of kids, do we need to make this vaccination school-based?
ALLEN: I don't think so. I actually think that in those jurisdictions where vaccines are available for all children, they have been enthusiastic and there is a fantastic universal healthcare system in Australia, and we have got great vaccines that are state based as well. Australia has got great healthcare. I don't think we need to do a school-based situation. At the end of the day, this is about what's right for them.
KARVELAS: Jenny McAllister, you asked the question so I will put it back to you about the solution. Do you think schools should be the place where kids roll up and get their vaccine if their parents have not managed to get it on January 10?
MCALLISTER: It is really up to the Government to lay out a plan. We have said all along that we would rely on health advice. I think the states and territories have worked really hard to put in place supplementary arrangements to support the vaccine roll out. The big issue for most of this year, as you know, was supply, so we're really looking for the Commonwealth Government I think to set out how they are going to roll out the vaccine, not just for kids but also for the boosters.
KARVELAS: Okay, I want to move to another topic which is today's big talk that Gladys Berejiklian now has the endorsement of the Prime Minister to run in the seat of Warringah. She has not yet put up her hand and she is still subject to this ICAC investigation but, Katie Allen, do you want to see Gladys Berejiklian run for that seat?
ALLEN: First thing to say, is that pre-selection (inaudible). They are used to having someone inside the electorate, effective representatives, and unfortunately, I do not think they are getting that at this point in time. So,  I would like to see a strong woman put their hand up and there is absolutely no doubt that people believe that Gladys has done a lot for this country. Certainly, with her COVID response. She is an amazing leader. If she did decide and the preselectors decided to support her, I could see an interesting (inaudible) make situation in Warringah.
KARVELAS: Would you be a net positive in the Federal Parliament?
ALLEN: Absolutely. If she decided to put her hand up. She is an incredible leader and some of the decisions she has made with her Liberal minded approach to leadership in New South Wales have been extraordinary and a lot of the benefits, the other state leaders have then followed with her fantastic contact tracing, her targeted approach, her strong leadership in what has been a very challenging last couple of years. It has been quite extraordinary.
KARVELAS: Okay, well what I know is that Zali Steggall who was on Afternoon Briefing not that long ago says that she plans to actually run-on integrity. She says that there are integrity questions, and also that this really will sharply bring into focus a federal integrity commission. Jenny McAllister, what do you think? Obviously, Labor has no chance of winning Warringah, but do you think… you’re in NSW… is she a positive? I keep hearing from Liberal’s that she is very popular.
MCALLISTER: Liberal preselection is up to Libera Party members and the Prime Minister. The thing that is most striking about this is a Scott Morrison's willingness to traduce the ICAC. If you live in New South Wales and you watch New South Wales politics, you know how important the ICAC has been in rooting out corruption across the board. I think his attack on the ICAC last week was extraordinary. I think that we ought to be supporting integrity bodies, not undermining them. I think it is shocking that having dragged his heels on a federal ICAC he is now seeking to undermine an  ICAC that actually exist in another state. We need a national anti-corruption commission, and it really is up to be Liberal Party to explain why it has taken three years and we are yet to see the legislation.
KARVELAS: That's right, Katie Allen, there is no legislation that has been put to the parliament. You are now facing potentially an election where you almost certainly won't have a federal ICAC legislated. I know you have come on the show and said that you support one and expected to be legislated. Has your government let you down?
ALLEN: I would say that there has been a lot of work going into a federal ICAC, with a lot of work being done engaging with stakeholders right across the community, plus $150 million put aside in the budget. The intention of many pieces of legislation is that they get past, and certainly I am a big supporter of that. As you know, quite a lot of different legislation is at different stages of success throughout the parliament, but what I would say is that we have passed hundreds of pieces of legislation through parliament this term despite the fact that we have had a pandemic. In August, the Opposition Leader said that this government only had two jobs - vaccine rollout and purpose-built quarantine facilities. The second one hasn't seemed to be important in anyone’s mind now; the first one was delivered. If Anthony Albanese has said that we only have two jobs, that suggests he is not prepared to be Prime Minister.
KARVELAS: I will bring you back to the question. Integrity is clearly important to voters and your government has not delivered on an integrity commission. Are you disappointed?
ALLEN: We are looking for support from Labor. We're not getting that support from Labor.
KARVELAS: Mark Dreyfus told me in an interview, I am sorry, I am deep diving on this, that he has not been approached about the legislation. Every time the coalition said that this was the case, he said there had not been this process that we keep hearing about.
ALLEN: I will take it back to what I can say. I know what I am responsible for, and I have met with the Attorney General many times on this particular issue. I have met with my other colleagues, and we are progressing this agenda. We have been progressing this agenda. There has been a COVID crisis, and we have delivered on a number of different pieces of legislation. The ICAC is one piece of the legislative agenda that I am pursuing.
KARVELAS: I want to talk about climate change and start with you, Jenny McAllister, on this topic. Labor announcing its policy of the 43 per cent reduction for 2030. I spoke to Zali Steggall and she said if she has the balance of power, she will push you to legislate and go further. Is your party willing to go further than that amount or is that locked and loaded?
MCALLISTER: We are clear that 43 per cent is our goal, based on extensive modelling. We have looked at what our policies are, we have looked at what is possible, and we have a plan that is ambitious but achievable. It is on that basis that we are going to the election. It is really time, I think, to put the climate wars was behind us. We have had such a long period where the coalition has divided the country on this question. What is needed now is a national commitment to moving towards a low carbon future, and we are very confident that this is a plan that can be supported right across the country.
KARVELAS: So, there is no movement?
KARVELAS: Okay, so we go into an election campaign where we know what Labor's reduction target is, we know that the coalition is saying 26 to 28 per cent, that is the fixed agreement. Is that going to be enough to satisfy your electorate, where obviously climate change is an issue?
ALLEN: When I came on to your show in October 2019, I said to you that it is not just about targets, it is about the plan. That is what we will get from our government. We will get certainty. We know that what businesses need is certainty, and we can be sure that we will deliver on the plan, because that is what we do. I would say that if you vote for the Labor Party and the independents you will get uncertainty. We know that we are over delivering. We know that the projections are that we will get well and truly above those targets that were set some time ago, but the most important thing Australians want is they want cheap, affordable, reliable energy that is also green. We are all on the same page and if we want to put the climate wars behind us, it is about working together to make sure we get the best future.
KARVELAS: Jenny McAllister, you say you want to put the climate was behind us, but Labor will campaign very centrally and hard on this issue around climate change, so the election in some ways will very much be about the climate wars, won't it?
MCALLISTER: Well, I think Australians are ready to move on from a divisive debate about this. Australians, I think, understand that we do need to make a transition and we need to do it in a way that lowers power prices, protects the economy and actually – introduces  - lowers emissions. We know that we can do this, and in releasing a policy as detailed as the one that Anthony Albanese  and Chris Bowen released on Friday, we are saying to the public, here it is. It is a detailed plan. We know it will help your community, your businesses, your households – let’s get on with it. For too long we have been left behind. We have had a national government under Mr Morrison that has been unwilling to actually tackle the hard policy decisions. He has been more interested in creating division and stoking fear. It is time to do better than that. It is time to put that behind us.
KARVELAS: Finally, to both of you on the Jenkins review. Neither side of politics is actually, if you listen very carefully to everything that has been said, saying that the recommendations will be implemented in full, which everyone could have said but it hasn't been said. Do you think they should be? What do you think, Katie Allen? Should they be implemented in full?
ALLEN: I have to say I haven't quite digested all of the recommendations. I have looked at them last week and over the weekend, but that being said, I have had a fairly good rudimentary look at the recommendations and there seems to be a little bit of overlap and some of them. I believe that everyone should feel safe in their workplace, and that is right across the country, particularly in parliament, and so I really do recommend that there is a very solid review and some of the recommendations have been taken up and rolled out and implemented, but this is a very positive step. We need to make sure it is right across parliament, right across the parties, and also, we need to make sure that Australia expects the best standard from its leaders and we need to lift our game in parliament.
KARVELAS: Just to you, do you want to see all 28 recommendations adopted, Jenny McAllister?
MCALLISTER: Kate Jenkins has done a power of work and it was really important that an independent person with the stature of Commissioner Jenkins actually did the review. We pushed very hard for that - in part because we wanted staff to be central to this process. We wanted their voices to be heard and we wanted them to be confident that they would be heard confidentially and taken seriously. As part of that, it means our response needs to reflect those principles as well. We want to take the report back into our staff and make sure that they have the opportunity to tell us what they think about the recommendations before we finalise a position. But yes, in principle, Kate Jenkins has laid out an impressive body of work and it should guide the steps that we take next as a parliament.
KARVELAS: We're out of time. Thanks to both of you.