10 June 2021

Subjects: COVID border breaches; vaccination rollout; Nathan Buckley to step down as Collingwood Coach; NT AFL team; Melbourne wild weather

KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the program. This is a story that leaves a lot of people furious this morning. It's reckless, it's selfish, and it could be criminal. A couple has skipped Melbourne's lock down, driving through New South Wales all the way to the Sunshine Coast. The woman believed to be infectious with COVID the whole time. And it gets worse. Police are investigating whether the couple lied on their border passes to enter Queensland using an inland route to avoid checkpoints. Criminal charges could now follow, while four major events in areas they visited are now under threat. For more, we're joined by Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, who is in Darwin and from 3AW in Melbourne, Neil Mitchell. Morning, guys. Nice to see you this morning. Neil, to you, first of all, where do you start?

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Oh, I know what I'd do. I'd put them in a plastic suit or wrap them in glad wrap, stick them on a plane back here and let us deal with them. But it's unbelievable stupidity. This, and the New Zealand trip. But this is worse. But it's also important to get them back and trace. What have they got? Is it the Delta variant? Is that the Kappa variant? Which is it? And how does it fit into Victoria's outbreak? Because we need to nail it down as well as nail down any damage they might have done on the way up.

STEFANOVIC: I, I remember there being fines in the initial stages of COVID. I just can't recall whether what the what the penalties are now. Are you across that?

MITCHELL: Yeah. $1652. $1652. But there have to be other rules they've broken in other states. I'd throw the book at them but we're going to have to test them. We have to question them. We start all over again in some ways. I don't think it will lead to another lockdown, but it's, it's a scary one and sheer stupidity.

STEFANOVIC: Well, and especially across these areas, they've done so well to keep COVID out, these country areas. You'd be filthy if you live in the country and these people have driven through your town wouldn't you. Malarndirri, what do you think?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Oh, well, like you said, Karl, absolutely reckless. We've seen over the last 12 to 18 months the importance of personal responsibility that your actions are going to have an impact on others if you're going to do something quite foolish. It's just a really disappointing

STEFANOVIC: How does that message not get through?

MITCHELL: Selfish.

MCCARTHY: We all know that human nature, you know, certain people do all sorts of things, Karl. You know they I do it, whether it's around COVID or anything else. I just think in this instance, we've just got to hope that those towns what is at Dubbo, Narrandera, Moree, you know, we've just got to hope that those families and residents in those places are okay.

STEFANOVIC: You know what it does? It puts enormous stress on those people who are now waiting for tests, enormous stress on those businesses, enormous stress right across the board. Look, let's hope there's a good excuse that they've got. Let's hope. We've had this family of three who've broken Trans Tasman bubble rules as well, driving from Melbourne during lockdown to Sydney, which has allowed them to fly to New Zealand. They're now in quarantine. And Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister, said she'll throw the book at them if she can. $4000 fines, possibly six months in jail. I mean, they were going to a family funeral, which, you know, is tough. It's tough, but they're the kind of fines that maybe we need, Neil.

MITCHELL: Yeah, I don't know about jail sentences but you need something tough. The really frustrating thing is people in Victoria at the moment are hurting so much. And the only way we're going to get out of this hole we're in is if people tried to do the right thing and there'll be fury towards these people. Because, you know, you've got you've got businesses close. You've got people sitting at home not going out because it's wrong to go out, not having mum around for her birthday. You get idiots like this threatening it all and sort of thumbing their noses. We ask for trust. We ask the government to trust us. And these people show why you shouldn't trust

STEFANOVIC: Well, one hundred percent. And now we've got businesses in Melbourne which we know have been really struggling. They're not going to completely come out of lockdown, are they? And some of them fear they're going to go under. Malarndirri goes on and on and on.

MCCARTHY: It does, Karl, but I think I think there's something that we also need to ask, especially with these two examples with New Zealand and the couple in Queensland, is did they get a COVID vaccine, you know, vaccination? I mean, are these questions that have been answered? I haven't seen or read anything of that. And I wonder, too, that if some of these families think they've had a vaccination or at least half of one, do they feel that these are some of the decisions that get behind it? So if we'd had seen perhaps more of the vaccination roll out a lot sooner, perhaps these sorts of things would not be happening as well.

STEFANOVIC:  Neil, let's move on. Nathan Buckley, big story in Melbourne as well. I do genuinely feel for him. He's put in so much effort. He's their favourite son and every element of the Collingwood Club, whether you like them or loathe them or love them, they'd be feeling that genuinely wouldn't they?

MITCHELL:  It says something about how important Collingwood is if you look at the Herald Sun today, our tabloid newspaper, biggest selling paper in the country, I think they're about 12 pages on Nathan Buckley. What's happening with COVID as well. Inside it goes on and on and on and on. He's a lovely bloke. He's a very decent man, he's gone with dignity, in fact, you could teach a few of our leaders something on both sides of politics about behaving with dignity once you're on the way out. Kevin Rudd.

STEFANOVIC: I completely agree. Completely agree. Who do you think will take over?

MITCHELL: I think Ross Lyon's a good chance. As I heard Crawf saying a moment ago, I think Ross Lyon's a good chance. Alastair Clarkson, maybe, although there strange at Collongwood, they just could pick a Collingwood person with very little experience.

STEFANOVIC: Eddie McGuire could coach them?

MITCHELL:  Eddie could do anything. You know that.

STEFANOVIC: Malarndirri.

MCCARTHY: I have to I have to jump in here because Nathan Buckley is a Darwin boy. And for the people of the Northern Territory, where enormously proud of our footballers, wherever they go onto, irrespective of the way they may conclude their career. And I'd say to Nathan Buckley and his family come on back home to the territory. We're trying to get an AFL team from the Northern Territory into the AFL. Come and join us.

STEFANOVIC: Whatever he does, he'll make a significant contribution moving forward. We can be guaranteed of that. Listen, before we go. We do. We must I guess we have to talk about what happened last night. With the weather in Melbourne, with the weather.

MITCHELL: Just as well we didn't have the State of Origin game at the MCG. We were supposed to. It would have been bedlam. Um 200,000 homes still without power,

STEFANOVIC: 200,000!

MITCHELL: The SES is telling us not to go outside, to stockpile water and food for three days. And the government is saying COVID restrictions - eat outside! Gee, you wouldn't dare walk outside.

STEFANOVIC: Gee, that's significant, isn't it? All the very best for you in Melbourne. It seems like you just continue to cop it all year, haven't you? And Malarndirri, thank you so much for being with us today. Always appreciate it

MCCARTHY: No worries, Karl. Thank you.