Tuesday 11 August 2020
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Australian PM - 2 month ago

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, ACA

KARL STEFANOVIC: The PM joins me now. Prime Minister, good evening. PRIME MINISTER: G’day Karl. STEFANOVIC: Daniel Andrews has called it a public health bushfire. I mean, what on earth is going on in Victoria? PRIME MINISTER: Well, there’s an outbreak in Victoria, and we ve always said that as we continue to move forward and as the economy opens up again, that there ll be outbreaks, there ll be cases, and what matters is how we respond to them. I mean, they re inevitable. And the response in cases like we re seeing in Victoria requires a lot of effort. And as you know, and I m sure your viewers know, the defence forces have been activated to support as, and Victoria s getting support from New South Wales as well as from South Australia. So everybody s coming together to support them. And it s important we get on top of these outbreaks. And that s that s the work that s being done. STEFANOVIC: Where did it go wrong for the quarantine hotels exactly? PRIME MINISTER: Well they’re questions you d have to put to the Premier, because the Commonwealth isn t directly involved in any of those arrangements, but where I would expect that they would have looked thoroughly over where breaches would have occurred and that they would have taken the actions with the contractors who are involved to ensure that those breaches were not repeated. And that would, I think, would be a lesson that all the quarantine arrangements that are in place around the country need to learn from. And it just means you need constant vigilance. I mean, this is a wake up call, but it s not something that is unexpected. I mean, we can t expect there to be no cases. That s not success, because what success is, is that we live alongside the virus. We deal with the challenges that come along. We keep opening up the economy. We keep getting people back into jobs. I mean, other countries are facing the same thing. I spoke to the German chancellor this evening, Angela Merkel. They re dealing with some similar issues as has occurred in Singapore and South Korea and Japan. This is what we can expect. What we have to do is respond and get on with it. STEFANOVIC: The point is the army, the army is going into these hotels, you want them to be safe, obviously? PRIME MINISTER: Well, there s been a change to the request by the Victorian government that those issues are now being dealt with by Victorian police and others. STEFANOVIC: Okay. PRIME MINISTER: What the defence forces are doing is supporting with all the testing and a lot of logistics and those types of arrangements, which I mean, we ve had the ADF involved in the COVID-19 response now for many, many months, and they ve been in many states. STEFANOVIC: The New South Wales Premier says, don t travel to Victoria. And as the day goes by, I mean Victorians, they don t seem to be able to travel anywhere. Would you take the wife and kids there during school holidays? PRIME MINISTER: Well, I d go to Victoria, but I wouldn t go to the hotspots. That s the point. There s a localised outbreak and they re containing that and that s what s important. But if you re living in Wangaratta, well, you know, you re as exposed as you are if you live in Wagga. And so I think we have to keep this in perspective. There s an outbreak in Victoria. It s what I d describe internationally at a very modest level, but it requires a very swift and very comprehensive response. The Victorian government is leading that and they are getting strong support from other states and they re also getting strong support from the federal government. STEFANOVIC: They re understandably anxious tonight. And then I can say that, I mean, the rest of the country is starting to look at them like they ve got the plague? PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think that would be unfair. And that s why I think we ve got to get a bit of perspective on this. The cases that are there are real and obviously it is concerning to see some community transmission taking place. But if you look around the rest of the country, I mean, Australia, even with this, what in international terms, you’d call a mild outbreak. Australia is just in a completely a league of our own with a handful of countries in our response. And I think that can give Australians who may be anxious about what they re seeing a great deal of confidence. Yes, it s important that we respond properly and that is happening. And we can expect outbreaks from time to time. That of itself shouldn’t be a concern. But the level of the response is what is necessary and that s what s being done. STEFANOVIC: Okay, let s talk Qantas, 6,000 staff and many live in your own electorate. As the leader, how do you ease their pain? PRIME MINISTER: Well, you continue to provide as much support as you can and that s what our government has been doing right from the outset. I mean, these jobs have been lost because of the coronavirus. This is the COVID-19 recession. And for a business like Qantas s, which is about flying planes around the world, when you can t fly planes around the world, well that has an obvious impact. And look, I know many people who work for Qantas. I ve had a long association with the company even before I went into parliament. And I know how just absolutely devastating it would be. I mean, Qantas is a family. There s such a level of pride in people working for Qantas and putting that uniform on regardless of what role you play. I mean, I was at Qantas just as the COVID-19 was actually escalating, and I went down there to thank the Qantas staff for the amazing work they did getting Australians out of Wuhan. And that s just their nature. They always turn up. So I m gutted by this. I know they will be gutted in my own community in the shire in southern Sydney, they ll be gutted, because everyone will know someone who will ultimately be affected by this. But at the same time, they will, I m sure, know that with what s been going on that this wouldn t be completely unexpected, but it won t make it any easier. So the support we ve got in place for JobSeeker, which is double the normal rate, and the employment programmes and the training that will be there to get them back into other jobs. And I know Qantas will do the right thing by them too. STEFANOVIC: Did Alan Joyce ask you to extend JobKeeper? PRIME MINISTER: We talked about that last night. And what he said today is right. We know that there are businesses like Qantas and I was with others today in the entertainment sector who will be affected for much longer than many other businesses. And we know there ll be the need for further targeted support for employers and employees in those areas. And that s what the Treasurer and I and the Government is working on, the current support runs to September. So we ve given ourselves the time to make sure we can get that right for the next phase. STEFANOVIC: Okay. Obviously, there s a lot going on in the aviation industry at the moment. I know that the unions are also seeking some sort of aviation bailout. You haven t decided on that just yet. But can I ask you this just finally and be brutally honest with us right now. Whether you live in Broadmeadows, Brisbane or Bankstown, what are we facing in the coming weeks and months? Because I think it s fair to say people are very uneasy? PRIME MINISTER: Well, these are very hard times, and those hard times are showing themselves with people losing their work. They re showing themselves with people losing businesses. They re showing themselves with people unable to connect in the way that they have in times past with big family gatherings and those sorts of things. So these are really hard times. But the thing about where we are is Australia. There is hope. And today, the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, handed down again their outlook for the global economy, and they handed out an improved outlook for Australia. From what they said in April to May, now in absolute terms, this is the hardest time we ve seen since the Depression. But Australia is doing better than almost every other country in the world, both on the economy and on the health front, because we re working together to get through this. I ve been so proud Karl, of how Australians despite the setbacks, have hung together. That s why I know my own community with what’s been happening with Qantas. They re going to get support from each other. And I think Australians are going to continue to do that mate. STEFANOVIC: Okay and keep leading us. Thank you very much for your time today, really appreciate it. PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot Karl.

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