Topics: Dan Cregan; Booster shots for immunocompromised Australians;
Jules Schiller: Finance Minister and the most senior Liberal in the state joins me now. Mr. Simon Birmingham, welcome Simon.
Jules Schiller: Hello, Jules. Good to be with you.
Simon Birmingham: Just off the back of this announcement from Dan Cregan, I know you’re obviously a federal member of the Liberal Party, but not great news for the state liberals. Are you shocked at that? Did you see this coming?
Simon Birmingham: Oh look, Dan seems to have changed his mind a few times in recent months from not contesting the next election and wanting to do other things with his life to now changing his position yet again, they’re for him to explain. I suspect this is a deeply disappointing decision for many of the voters in Kavel, who just at the last state election rejected independent type candidates in favour of having a strong liberal voice in government. And certainly at the next state election, we’ll make sure we’ve got a great, high quality local candidate offering them that continued choice of a strong Liberal voice in government, supporting Steven Marshall emphatically after the next election.
Jules Schiller: You must be surprised because he was out. Now he’s in. Now he’s an independent. Do you think? Do you feel a little bit betrayed by what happened? Well, what’s just happened, Simon Birmingham?
Simon Birmingham: I think it would be understandable if voters were a little confused by his changing positions, but they’re a matter for him to explain.
Jules Schiller: Do you think he will be part of an SA Best ticket?
Simon Birmingham: Again, look, I don’t want to hypothesise there, I see he’s had good things to say about the relationship he wants to have with Steven Marshall. I trust that would be the case because the voters of Kavel voted very clearly for a Liberal government and for Steven Marshall to be Premier at the last election. I get the impression that Steven Marshall is held in very high regard, and I’m sure that there will be a good, high quality local Liberal candidate offering to serve in a Marshall government after the next election and represent the people of Kavel there with with a strong voice, but also offering the stability of clear support for the government that comes from that.
Jules Schiller: All right. Well, look forward to see who you announce to run in that seat because the election obviously is almost upon us. Simon Birmingham. Let’s get to these extra shots of a COVID-19 vaccine for people who are will suffer immune suppressed disorders. Is this a booster shot or a third shot?
Simon Birmingham: Well, this is, it is a booster and a third. It is essentially both in that sense. Now the virologists and immunologists may be able to more precisely define a difference between the two, but it is about ensuring that the protection is there in adequate supply for people who need it. And we had made all of the prudent decisions as a government over recent months in terms of ensuring procurement of some 151 million doses that are available, 85 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 15 million of Moderna, 51 million of the Novavax that can provide for booster shots, supplementary third shots for people who need it.
We’ve got the delivery systems in place. We know that we have those vaccine doses well and truly in time for any decisions that are made. And this is the first of those recommendations we’ve had from the health experts to say yes, there should be a third dose and these are the categories of people that it should go to.
Jules Schiller: And how do you find out if you’re amongst those categories? Simon Birmingham.
Simon Birmingham: Well, these, we estimate, are around 500,000 Australians who are immunocompromised in different ways. They would, as a result of their more active engagement with medical practitioners, likely know or be advised they’re people who might be being actively treated for cancer or organ failure situations, or have a range of other biologic therapies or immunosuppressive therapies that they are receiving treatment for. So essentially, the short answer to that is you’re most likely to be advised by your health professionals. And if you think you might be one of those people, you should certainly ask your health advisers.
Jules Schiller: And is the federal government planning for booster shots in general for the entire population?
Simon Birmingham: We certainly, as a government have those plans. That’s why we have so many booster shots ordered and we’ve taken the cautious approach of getting many more than Australia itself is likely to need so that we can deal with the type of disruptions that we faced at the start of this year to some of the supply shocks. So we have confidence there and we can equally do as we’ve been doing with, for example, AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Australia that are not being used in the supplies that had been anticipated by supporting developing nations and others around our region with access to vaccines that they wouldn’t otherwise get.
Jules Schiller: Simon Birmingham, thanks for your company. Appreciate it.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks, Jules. It’s my pleasure.