Transcript - Interview on Afternoon Agenda, Sky News

DANICA DE GIORGIO

For more now on the day’s top stories, I’m joined by the Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Michael McCormack, appreciate your time.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good afternoon, Danica.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

Let’s begin by talking about the Melbourne couple who fled the lockdown. They’ve gone through a number of regional areas on their way to Queensland. It’s prompted alerts at several venues around Dubbo and Moree in New South Wales. What do you think should happen here?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, it’s not hard to do the right thing, Danica. They also went through the Forbes community – that’s in my electorate of the Riverina and Central West. The Mayor there Phyllis Miller, was quite concerned, as was the whole community. I mean, these people have placed at risk those country communities. Those country communities for which they don’t need these sorts of risks, particularly when they haven’t had too many, if any, coronavirus cases at all and we’ve got an irresponsible couple going through there and visiting various outlets. It’s just not the right thing to do. It’s not responsible and you know, shame upon them.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

All right, let’s move on now to the potential idea of a travel bubble between Singapore and Australia. The Singaporean Prime Minister wants vaccine rates in both countries to be higher before this is given the green light. Currently, Michael McCormack, 2.6 per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated. In Singapore it’s 33 per cent. When is it going to happen and how?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I understand that the Prime Minister’s had productive talks, as has my Department with officials in Singapore. We’ve got that travel bubble with New Zealand and of course, at one stage it was one way, now its two way. That’s because we’ve had low case rates. That’s because we’ve had a low death toll. And we will continue to of course, make sure that the vaccination strategy is rolled out across the country – 5.6 million vaccinations – and we’ll continue to work on a collaborative and cooperative association with Singaporean officials to make this happen.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

Well, we can’t travel though, until we get the vaccination levels up. If only 2.6 per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated, surely this will not be likely until next year?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, indeed and that’s why we urge and encourage Australians to get out and get their jabs. Get their first jabs then follow it up with their second vaccination. This is so important and as the Victorian outbreak has shown, that has led to a peak now in people going and getting their vaccines. A record number yesterday and 998,000 vaccinations over the past eight days. This can’t be any simpler – get out, get your vaccines, get that jab and do the right thing, not just for yourselves and not just for your own families but indeed, those strangers you will potentially never meet but you’re doing the right thing by yourself and your country – it’s so important.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

There’s currently the ban on international cruise ships. Yesterday, it was extended for another three months to September 17. Here we are talking about travel bubbles with Singapore before our cruise industry even has some sort of certainty or pathway. How is that fair?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we’ll continue to do what’s best for Australians and the nation and we’ll take the best possible medical advice in doing that. We make no apologies for making sure that we keep Australians safe. We make no apologies for putting the health interests and outcomes of Australians first and foremost. Yes, these are difficult times and that’s why we’ve provided such enormous support to the transport sector indeed, to every industry, to make sure that we get them as best we can and keep those jobs through this global pandemic and let’s be honest, this global pandemic is still raging around the world. We’ve done very well thus far and we’ll continue to place that health expert advice first and foremost in every measure that we undertake.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

Are you worried though, about the uptake in the vaccine? We saw yesterday another death from AstraZeneca and while that’s incredibly rare, are you worried about confidence when you see, for example, Annastacia Palaszczuk this week, getting the Pfizer instead of AstraZeneca?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, that was a matter for the Premier and I understand she wanted to go to Tokyo for the Olympics and push the Queensland bid for the 2032 games, I understand that. Of course, the time between Pfizer vaccinations is much shorter than that between AstraZeneca. But that was a matter for the Premier and I appreciate she can make that individual decision on her own and she did. But I had my AstraZeneca shot on Monday and I urge and encourage Australians to do the same. We need those vaccination rates up. As I say, nearly a million have been vaccinated over the past eight days. We need that to indeed, increase over coming days and weeks and months.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

The Prime Minister has flown to the UK ahead of the G7. There’s been a lot of concern, particularly from the West Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, about the language being used by Scott Morrison when it comes to China, has Australia been too harsh in its commentary?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We’ll always place national security at the foremost. The Prime Minister obviously, understands just how important world trade is. He gets that and we want to continue obviously to trade with our largest trading partner but indeed, we always place our sovereignty and our national interest first and foremost and that’s what we’ll continue to do. That’s what Prime Minister Morrison will do when he’s on the world stage. Indeed, Australia’s values and principles are very respected by our partners all around the world, as they should be.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

Just finally, the Gippsland area is currently suffering major flooding. Have you spoken to local MP Darren Chester, on what’s the latest on the ground?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Indeed, I have and he tells me that up to a dozen homes have been flooded in Traralgon. He’s very worried about the Thomson River, of course. I see that we’ve sadly lost two people. These storms have been terrible. They’ve created such a lot of damage. Farmland wise, a number of fences have been taken away. So I’ve messaged James Merlino, the Acting Premier in Victoria. We stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary but Darren’s obviously out on the ground and talking to people and helping with what needs to be done as far as the mop-up is concerned and we’ll continue to monitor the situation.

DANICA DE GIORGIO

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack, appreciate your time. Thank you for joining me.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Thanks, Danica. Any time at all.

Media contact:

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