TRANSCRIPT - DOORSTOP INTERVIEW - Parliament House, Canberra, Wednesday 11 August 2021

  • Media Release


SUBJECTS: COVID cases in Hunter aged care facilities; vaccine rollout; COVID-19 misinformation; George Christensen; Clive Palmer; Morrison failing to act.

SHARON CLAYDON, MEMBER FOR NEWCASTLE: Good morning, my name is Sharon Claydon, Member for Newcastle. If ever you needed proof positive of the human cost of errors being made by politicians when it comes to messaging on COVID-19, you need only look to what is happening in the regions today. It is the failure of the Morrison Government to, in fact show any form of national leadership or take responsibility for ensuring the safety of people in our regions that we are seeing outbreaks in two aged care facilities in my region of Newcastle. One in the seat of Newcastle, and one in my neighbouring seat. 

Why are those outbreaks occurring? Well, it's quite simple. The aged care workers have not been fully vaccinated. This was a Prime Minister that promised that those people working on the frontline would be vaccinated by Easter. Well, Prime Minister, we're now in August.

It is unforgivable that you have broken that promise to our essential workers in aged care. Indeed, you have failed to remove every single obstacle in the pathway to those workers being vaccinated. I've had aged care facilities contact me saying just how impossible it has been to ensure the safety of their workforce and by default ensure the safety of their entire aged care facility. I had one aged care facility who, in order to have their staff vaccinated, had to get a bus and take everybody to Sydney to be vaccinated. That was before the lockdown. But now, we've got a situation in Newcastle where there were 13 new cases overnight, ten of which are in the Newcastle local government area, all bar one were out in the community whilst infectious.

And yet still it is impossible for those workers to get the vaccine. I noted last week just how cruel it was that the Prime Minister had failed to tap into his secret stash of Pfizer, but allowed all of our vaccinations from Newcastle and the Hunter region to be shipped down to Sydney. Well this is the cost of a) having stolen those vaccines from the regions in the first place and b) showing a complete lack of leadership when it comes to honouring your word.  You don't have a plan Mr. Morrison. This is what people in my community are worried about, is that you actually don't have a plan. You've lost control of steering this ship and you are going to flick responsibility to everybody else.

Yesterday, you had an opportunity Mr. Morrison to condemn George Christensen. But it's not just George Christensen. You’re a leader of a government that has multiple people who spread misinformation and lies. I have got former parliamentarian Clive Palmer, good mate of Mr. Morrison. He can't condemn him either. Indeed, he backs him in, in court cases - we know.

Clive Palmer continues to spread misinformation throughout my community. Indeed, most communities in Australia. This is a man with more money than sense. He's putting full-page ads in newspapers, letterboxing, going door-to-door with misinformation and lies. Well, this is dangerous. And we see in communities like mine in Newcastle, the consequences, the very real costs, the human cost in our aged care facilities and in our vulnerable communities, of not calling out this behaviour. That is on your watch Mr Morrison. It's your responsibility. Stop shirking it. We've had enough.

JOURNALIST: Sharon, I understand Mr Clive Palmer has been putting leafleting out in your neck of the woods. What's your response to this? What do you think he’s getting up to in the Newcastle area?

CLAYDON: Again, more money than sense Mr. Palmer.  He is deliberately peddling lies and misinformation. I've called this out before. I will continue to call it out each and every time. This is a man who takes out billboards at the footy, full-page ads in your local newspaper, and leaflets directly into letter boxes in my community. Well, I tell you what, the people of Newcastle are not that silly Mr Palmer. 

You can spend as much money as you like, there are enough of our voices, enough health and medical experts, enough scientists, enough people who know that what you're doing is incorrect. But I tell you what, I don't hear the Prime Minister saying anything like that. Not in this Parliament, not at a press conference. He doesn't say that when he does a whistle-stop tour of Newcastle and the Hunter, he’s not calling out his mate Clive Palmer while he’s up there. He’s not calling to account people in his own party room or Coalition party room for the dangerous lies and misinformation being pedalled. 

The only reason he's on record of having now condemned George Christensen is because Labor forced, through a suspension of standing orders in the Parliament yesterday, a debate. He had no intention of chastising George Christensen prior to that. He would never. The double standards are so blatant now. In regards to Craig Kelly, we were told that the Prime Minister forced him to have some serious chats. That's not happening from what I can tell with Mr Christianson, Senator Canavan, Pauline Hanson or any of the others. There’s a whole crew of people that want to defy the medical experts and scientists. 

From day one, we have backed in the medical experts in this nation, as we should. Now, there’s apparently some people in this Parliament that want to use this platform to placate those that refuse to see reason, refuse to accept the science. Well, it's the Prime Minister’s job to stand up to them, to call out the dangerous behaviour. That's what I'm doing. That's what Labor will do each and every day, and it’s up to the Prime Minister to do likewise.


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