SUBJECT/S: Covid lockdowns

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Now, time for my political panel. I don't know how long it will last, my viewers because we are waiting for the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews. Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg and Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy join me. Welcome to both of you. I'm going to be quick. We are waiting for the Victorian premier and we want to hear what he has to say. Just to you, Andrew Bragg, you are in an extended lockdown and it looks now that Victoria is about to enter one. Do you support the strategy that that's currently being embarked on, particularly the extension of the New South Wales lockdown?

SENATOR ANDREW BRAGG: Well, good afternoon, PK. My view is you need to take a risk based approach. We need to try and lock down where there are cases to try and stop community spread. But that should be focussed around the risk. Now, where there are LGA's and where there are no cases which are remote from other areas where there are cases, I think we should look to free up some of those areas of the state, yes.

KARVELAS: OK, so just to drill down in what you're actually saying, obviously, that that south western Sydney area is a real hotspot. Is it your view, like your colleague Jason Falinski argued, that some areas should exit lockdown and there should just be a more focussed lockdown?

BRAGG: Well, I think we need to be moving in that direction because to have the whole city locked down, which is a diverse city with quite a different geographic profiles locked down, where there are cases in only a few areas, I think is not the sustainable approach here. So we need to be moving towards a risk based approach in the next next week or two, I hope.

KARVELAS: OK, next week or two. All right. So you're saying when that next announcement gets made, it should be it should be very much place based.

BRAGG: Well ultimately, we need to move to an LGA by LGA basis, PK, because locking down a city of five million people on a permanent basis where there isn't spread everywhere is not sustainable.

KARVELAS: But didn't that get you into the trouble you're in in New South Wales at the moment? I mean, there was a localised lockdown and then within just a very short period of time, the premier had to respond to that advice she received that the whole state had to go. Well, the whole city had to go into lockdown.

BRAGG: No, I think the Premier's done a great job. I think the Premier has responded to the events as they have transpired. This has been a proportionate approach, but we can't live like this forever.

KARVELAS: OK, Malarndirri McCarthy, what do you make of the arguments Andrew Bragg makes? I mean, he's calling for a more localised approach rather than the whole of greater Sydney being in this lockdown.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Oh, look, Patricia, we've seen certainly in the other jurisdictions in particular here in the Northern Territory, we went hard, we went fast immediately right across the Northern Territory. I don't think premiers in other states should be afraid to do that. I do hear what Senator Bragg is saying. But let's be realistic here. This particular strain is so dangerous, so dangerous. We only have to look to our north in Indonesia to see what is going on there. And we need to go hard and fast immediately.

KARVELAS: So you think those kind of more specific approach that's been suggested by some Liberal MPs, one today on the show, but we have now on the other day, is the wrong approach.

MCCARTHY: You have to go hard and you have to go fast, Patricia. That is my view. I believe that we are seeing leaks right across Sydney as a result of the fact that they didn't go ahead and fast, immediately.

KARVELAS: OK, so taking that back to you, if I can. Andrew Bragg, we are poised any moment, which means I'll have to crash into this panel to bring you the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, to make that very important announcement. It looks to us, based on the information we've received here at the ABC, that it'll be a five day statewide lockdown. Do you think that's too generic, too too hard and too large?

BRAGG: Well, look, the great thing about a federation is you can try different things. Now, I'm not an expert on what is happening in Victoria, but again, I'd say that we have had localised lockdowns and they have worked. I mean, over the Christmas period, the northern beaches lock down. They missed out on Christmas effectively. And then Sydney was free of COVID for some months. So it's not true to say the only way to do this is to lock the whole city or state down. When you're talking about cities on the scale of Melbourne and Sydney, this is a big judgement to make. So let's see what he has to say.

KARVELAS: OK, we are we're going to see what he has to say. And no one's more interested than me. And my Victorian viewers, let me tell you, because it has a material impact on all of our lives, of course, with this fifth lockdown looming about to be announced by the premier, Daniel Andrews any moment here on ABC News. And of course, you can stream it, too, on the YouTube channel as well. Just quick remarks from both of you and starting actually with you, Senator Andrew, Bragg about this announcement that's been made by the Prime Minister. He'll take it to national cabinet tomorrow, that you actually can get these emergency payments really from the start of any any lockdown now, but they'll be paid in arrears after the first week. It strikes me that this should have been in the budget, Andrew Bragg, that we should have known about this rather than the Commonwealth cobbling something together now. Was this a blunder and an oversight?

BRAGG: Well, I think the reality is if the government is asking businesses close down, it should be providing compensation and the way in which that's done administratively is a matter for you know--

KARVELAS: Ok here he is I wanted to hear what you had to say, but we're taking you live now to the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.