Sky News Interview with Peter Stefanovic

Peter Stefanovic: I’m joined by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, Senator, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. Well let’s stay on that news, what did you make of that pick this morning?

Andrew Bragg: Well as you know Pete, we will work with whoever the American people select in November and it's a big call because the United States is under a lot of pressure. You’d have to say that the handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been wanting in many respects, and it's a nation that's very important to us with a lot of challenges.

Peter Stefanovic: You can't deny the history as well. It’s certainly going to give Joe Biden’s campaign a shot in the arm. Kamala Harris she is the first black woman on any ticket in US history to be chosen, so as mentioned there, a real day of history.

Andrew Bragg: And I think one of the pieces of advice I would perhaps give, gratuitously, would be that I hope that the American people look for people that have demonstrated capacity to run governments. To run things effectively because that is so important that the US is a strong nation.

Peter Stefanovic: Well, let's get onto the running of governments and I do want to ask you about this stoush that seems to be emerging at the moment between the State Government of Victoria and also the federal government. It's all over this question about whether ADF personnel was offered to Victoria. The Federal Government says it was and Linda Reynolds said on numerous occasions yesterday in a statement that ‘it was’, but Daniel Andrews says that it wasn't. So, what do you make of what's going on here?

Andrew Bragg: Well, you've just got to step through the facts here and as you know in March there was an offer made to all states in the Commonwealth. Victoria said they didn't need any assistance. Again, in June there was an offer accepted by Victoria and then rejected the next day. I mean the hotel quarantine disaster has been contained to one jurisdiction in this country. And that has been in the state of Victoria, so those are the facts and I think that the judicial inquiry, the parliamentary inquiry will hopefully help us get to a very clear landing, which is quite clear to me as an outsider.

Peter Stefanovic: I'm an outsider as well and I'm looking at all the facts like you are as well and it seems quite clear that ADF personnel was offered. It was offered to New South Wales and it was offered to Queensland so it stands to reason that it would be offered to Victoria as well, but it wasn't taken, so how does this help harmony Senator? How does this help the harmony between the Victorian State Government and the Federal Government because you know up until now Scott Morrison had been trying to keep things on a kind of even keel, but this doesn't help?

Andrew Bragg: At the end of the day, this is not a time for politics. It is a time for ensuring that we get Victoria back on its feet, but we also have to tell the people the truth, and there are a lot of people that are very angry in Victoria that their state is in such a mess, whereas other states are not. Now during the peak of the return travellers. I mean I would see the ADF and the police escorting busloads of returned travellers into Sydney hotels like the Sofitel. So, it was quite a high-profile part of how we were dealing with the pandemic here in Australia, so it's just not true to say that these offers were secret or under the table or weren't widely profiled.

Peter Stefanovic: Just onto aged care. It's another day, another headline that comes out of Victoria. Today's headline is that, reportedly, there were aged care residents who were COVID-19 who were turned away from hospitals and were instead basically given a whole bunch of sedatives, so they wouldn't go wondering. What's your reaction to this news? Not just this news, but also the last few days of headlines that have come from that Royal Commission.

Andrew Bragg: There's no doubt that there are some systemic issues in the aged care sector, which is why the Prime Minister has commissioned a Royal Commission. You know I’m aware personally about some of these issues because my mum has been an Aged Care nurse in Victoria and I think the latest issues that have arisen through COVID-19, again show that we need to focus on getting Victoria back on its feet, and that's why the national government is putting so many resources and personnel into helping the Victorian system.

Peter Stefanovic: But I mean the government said it was prepared. It emerged from the Commission. Well we heard from the Commission that it wasn't prepared and even the owner of Anglicare said that they were completely kind of overrun by coronavirus because they thought it was just going to be a flu. So, where's the blame got to be held here? What’s your mum even saying about it all?

Andrew Bragg: Well I mean the first point is that the issues that we’re seeing in Victoria stem from the breaches in hotel quarantine. I mean these issues have emerged in other jurisdictions like New South Wales with Newmarch, but they were contained. So, this rolling problem in Victoria is a Victorian problem, and I think that's what you know is obvious to most people. So…

Peter Stefanovic: Yeah, but there was still an element of unpreparedness because you saw what happened at Newmarch, you saw what happened in Sydney and yet it’s happened again in Melbourne and it's even gotten worse.

Andrew Bragg: Well, we’re doing everything we can as the events change to reinforce these aged care homes, and you can see on a daily basis what we’re doing. So, whether it's more training, or it’s the ADF, or providing dedicated case managers, we’re doing all those things every day.

Peter Stefanovic: Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, good to have you on. Chat to you again soon.

Andrew Bragg: Thanks Pete.

MEDIA | John Mangos | 0401 392 624

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