Interview with Karl Stefanovic and Leila McKinnon, Today Show

  • Transcript
Subjects: COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Tourism and aviation support package, Support for the tourism sector, Border closures.
31 March 2021

Karl Stefanovic: Okay, Federal Minister for Tourism Dan Tehan joins us now from Parliament House in Canberra. Dan, good morning to you. I mean firstly, where do we start? I want to ask you about this, the rollout of the vaccines. States still have half of their vaccines still unused, that doesn’t help?

Dan Tehan: No, it doesn’t. So, we need to see the states and territories administering all the vaccines that they have and we’ll continue to make sure we’re supplying them. But, it’s no good if we’ve got half the stockpile sitting in warehouses. We need to make sure that it’s being administered, especially to those frontline health workers and then our elderly Australians, because the more Australians we can get vaccinated, the more we can move around this country with confidence, and of course, support our wonderful tourism industry. Because, we want to make sure that we’ve got Australians moving right across this great country, visiting all those wonderful destinations.

Leila McKinnon: It really undermines initiatives like this, doesn’t it? Because, you’re trying to get people moving, you’re trying to get people spending money, and this doesn’t help. Why do you think it’s taking so long?

Tehan: Look, I’m not quite sure. One of the things that we want to reassure states and territories again is that second dose is there. So, make sure you’re administering all those first doses, because that second dose is there and we’re happy to work cooperatively with them, to help them make sure that all those stockpiles are being rolled out and people are being vaccinated, as we want them to be. So, we’ll be reaching out again to see what help and assistance we can give them, but we really need them getting those jabs in people’s arms.

Stefanovic: You would know too, Dan, Skroo Turner, disturbingly, in The Courier Mail this morning, has come out saying that domestic travel is at risk and the airports are at risk because of these lockdowns that happen and lockouts that happen. That is such disturbing news for any of the tourism sector.

Tehan: It is and that’s why we want people to have the confidence to book a holiday, and I know that what’s occurring in Brisbane has come at not a great time. But, we’ve got to remember, we’ll get through this and these half-price flights, they go up until the end of September, so, if anyone wants to travel to Queensland, be thinking about okay, when can I go. You might want to go in July and there’s a half-price flight there available. Also, the airlines have come on board and they’ve got discounts right across Australia at the moment, as well. So, wherever you might want to go, there’s potentially a discounted flight there for you, and remember – and this is the important message – you’re saving money on your discount flights so we want you to dig deep when you get to your destination. Support the restaurant, the café, go on that wonderful experience that we have on offer across all our wonderful destinations. So, we tend to in Australia, when we travel domestically, not spend like we do overseas. So, I want to see Australians maxing out that credit card when you travel in Australia and when you holiday in Australia.

Stefanovic: I love it.

McKinnon: I better be worried for the other Minister’s portfolios. How much of a body blow would a potential Gold Coast lockdown be at a time like this?

Tehan: Look, obviously, the health authorities have to do what they need to do. But, we’ve got to remember, these lockdowns, they will be temporary. The way that we’ve dealt with these lockdowns is that we’ve got through them, we’ve got over them and the thing is, we’ve just got to remember as we come out the other side, we need to be supporting the tourism industry. We’ve got to be making sure we go, right, the best thing we can do is go and travel to those destinations that have had a lockdown so we can support the tourism industry, the cafes, the restaurants, the hotels, that’s what we need to be doing. And, we want to be making sure we’re giving Australians the confidence to travel and that’s what this initiative is about – $1.2 billion as part of this aviation and tourism sector initiative. So, to all Australians, help and support our tourism industry at this moment. Obviously, Brisbane, not at the moment, but we can go to wonderful destinations everywhere else across Australia, and then once Brisbane’s through this, let’s get back to Brisbane and support them as well.

Stefanovic: But, the problem here, Dan, as you would know, is even with Brisbane, the Greater Brisbane area, you can still go to the Gold Coast, which I think’s great. But, people are going, oh, can I go to the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast. But, the rest of Queensland has opened up and you had Gladys the other day saying, don’t go to Queensland, and there are all these operators all the way along the coast that need people to go to Queensland. It’s a big state and I think the premiers have all got to kind of work together on that.

Tehan: I couldn’t agree more with you, Karl, and one of the things that we’ve been pushing from a Federal Government point of view is to get a national definition of a hotspot, so that we can get a uniform position from states and territories as to how they deal with these lockdowns, when they’re necessary. And, if all the states and territories could come together, work with the Commonwealth so that we had a uniform position on what a hotspot definition is, and then what states and territories would do in response, that would help give certainty right across this nation to people who want to travel. And, you know, we call upon them again, especially as we’re rolling the vaccine out, for them to be able to work together cooperatively on that would just make such a difference to our tourism industry, in particular.

McKinnon: Okay. Thank you for that very much, Dan Tehan.

Stefanovic: Thanks, Dan.

Tehan: Pleasure.

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