Read the transcript of Minister Gillespie’s interview with Steve Price Australia Today – Triple M on 17 December 2021, on job vacancies.

STEVE PRICE:

If you want to get a job, now’s the time to get it. There are job vacancies right across the country – thanks for the call, Steve, appreciate it very much. Dr. David Gillespie is our Regional Health Minister, has joined us on the program on a regular basis across 2021. Good to talk to you again, Doctor.

MINISTER GILLESPIE:

Great to be back, and Merry Christmas in advance.

STEVE PRICE:

Absolutely. I went to a TerryWhite Chemmart the other day and had my booster shot. Easily booked it online but I did note that a lot of the pharmacies around me – while I wouldn’t be considered regional, I’m not CBD, Melbourne either – are booked out right through until early January. Have we got enough of these pharmacies and GP clinics to cope with the demand for boosters, David?

MINISTER GILLESPIE:

I think we won’t have as many as we had for the first round, and I’d encourage them to stay on board. And internally, I’ve been arguing for a reassessment, because situations do change. We’ve still got a booster program that we’ve got to get around so it is important. I’m off this afternoon myself, a booster dose. I got my text the other day from New South Wales Health, so I’ll be rolling sleeves up and getting a booster. We know it gives protection against severe disease. Whether it’s Delta or Omicron, it’s important.

So, at the moment, we’ve got Delta circulating. In the coming months, it may well be displaced by all Omicron. By all accounts, overseas we’re getting information all the time from America, the UK, and South Africa, where they’re ahead of the curve compared to us in Australia.

STEVE PRICE:

The Pharmacy Guild that I spoke to earlier in the week, they have some concerns about the rebate for providing these booster jabs. They believe that a lot of the pharmacies have dropped off because that rebate just simply doesn’t cover their costs. Is that something that needs to be looked at?

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MINISTER GILLESPIE:

Definitely, Steve. I think so. And as I said earlier, I’ve been arguing for a review of that situation. It is problematic. We’re not asking them to subsidize the case for mass vaccination. We want it to be viable for the population, but also viable for the providers.

STEVE PRICE:

I note the Queensland Premier, by the way, David, is making some announcements as we speak. She said that the situation in New South Wales is changing rapidly. Dramatic escalation is the way she puts it. She’s announced that the- her and the Health Minister in Queensland and the Chief Health Officer have now made in Queensland masks mandatory in all retail. So that’s a change from what was happening. Mandatory in hospitals, public transport, rideshare, and airports; not in workplaces yet. And she says she’s going to get her own booster shot. So, I was talking to Josh Frydenberg. Are you confident that you can keep these premieres on the same page of the national planned rollout to keep things open?

MINISTER GILLESPIE:

I think so, Steve. People just won’t tolerate being locked up again. It is unfortunate, but COVID is here to stay. And the common sense prevention of transmission by hygiene, distancing and masks is a nuisance, but it means you can still get on with your life and reduce the risk of it being transmitted to other people whose immunity may be waning or decided not to go ahead with protection.

It is common sense. Whether it’s flu season or COVID, it does help reduce transmission. Vaccination does reduce disease severity if you’re one of the breakthrough infections. So all up, get your vaccine booster if you’re due, and also use all those public health measures. Washing your hands when you’ve been out in public, before you eat, wear a mask in crowded, dense places like transport, taxies, trains, buses, planes, all that sort of stuff.

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STEVE PRICE:

New South Wales is sitting at 93.3 percent, probably 94 now, of over the age of 16, double vaccinated. Are those rates consistent across the state? Clearly, Sydney would be higher than a lot of the regional areas, but are there still any regional areas you’re worried about where the rates are a bit lower?

DAVID GILLESPIE:

Look, New South Wales is in pretty good shape across the regions, particularly a lot of the vacation spots up until the Far North Coast. Queensland and WA obviously have been behind. But even Queensland has caught up such that Premier Palaszczuk opened up. But there are still pockets in parts around the country in remote areas. Small populations, but we are getting there, and WA will get there in February. I wish it was sooner. But the way the Federation works, the states, formally colonies, have always had these public health orders. They’ve just rediscovered their ability to do this. It’s of course a great frustration for everyone.

And look, if there was ever a case for a relook at the Federation and how it all works, this COVID has changed everything. That’s personal opinion, that’s not government policy. But seriously, we do need to look at the whole Commonwealth. Instead of disparate colonies, we became a nation. And to all of a sudden, these rules seem to put hard borders back in place. So, I don’t think Australia is okay with that being the case forever. It’s a case for a start of a long, deep conversation about how the Federation works.

STEVE PRICE:

I agree with you 100 percent. Just before you go, that beautiful part of the world that you present in Canberra, are you expected to be pretty crowded over the summer period, with people from mainly New South Wales, and possibly from Victoria, coming to that lovely part of New South Wales?

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DAVID GILLESPIE:

Yes, we are the playground for a lot of metropolitan folks, and we welcome them. Make sure, though, that they’ve taken the time to get their double vax and their booster and follow all the common sense, practical things.

Like, in crowded places, wear a mask, like, if you’re on a bus or a train or a plane. And if you’re out and about, you know, wash your hands if you’ve been dealing with other people. And enjoy the beautiful part of the New South Wales coastline and the hinterland. It is a beautiful place, from the Hunter up to the Hastings, from the mountains to the sea, it’s the best part of Australia, Steve.

STEVE PRICE:

You won’t get an argument from me, David. Thank you very much for your help this year. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. And we’ll catch up with you in 2022.

DAVID GILLESPIE:

Thanks Steve, and Merry Christmas to everyone out there in Australia listening to your great show.

STEVE PRICE:

Dr David Gillespie there, the Regional Health Minister. We’ll be back after this.

Interview with Steve Price Australia Today – Triple M on 17 December 2021, on job vacancies 

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