Australia needs hope that the endless ‘hamster wheel’ of lockdowns, QR codes, business closures and mask-wearing will eventually end, Bill Shorten explains.
The former opposition leader spoke on behalf of the vast majority of Australians who were exhausted by the endless bad news of the coronavirus pandemic and no light in the tunnel.
Mr Shorten challenged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to be a “hope merchant” and to end the constant doom and gloom and provide a workable timeline.
He stressed that at some point restrictions had to end and Australia had to start living with the virus — and people had to be told when that would happen.
Melbourne is in its fifth lockdown which was extended Monday, with residents only allowed outside for a few reasons, including exercise
Twelve million of us are in lockdown. People are pessimistic and despondent, but I think they are because we don’t know when this will end,” he said on Monday’s Today show.
“We understand that lockdowns work. But we won’t be locked up for the rest of our lives if this variant shows up.
“What we need most – even outside of quarantine facilities that work, even outside of vaccinations – is that we need hope.
“People can’t keep closing their businesses. We can’t keep closing the schools. We can’t keep closing the schools.
“We can’t stand it, you know, overload the people on benefits and let this starve tomorrow.
“We need to be told, when is this over, what’s the finish line? Otherwise we’re just hamsters on a hamster wheel that never ends.’
Australia needs hope that the endless ‘hamster wheel’ of lockdowns, QR codes, business closures and mask-wearing will eventually end, Bill Shorten declares
Twelve million Australians are in lockdown with businesses closed and blood loss – and no end in sight to the cycle of restrictions
Today host Karl Stefanovic said every day in London was now “Freedom Day” and vaccinated friends of his were out in New York as if it were “July 4th”.
“Look at London and the UK – 50,000 cases and they’ve just decided it’s Freedom Day,” he said.
However, he poured cold water on any thoughts of optimism due to his lack of confidence in the vaccine rollout in Australia.
‘I don’t think we’re getting close to the 80 or 90 percent vaccinated’ [needed to remove restrictions],’ he said.
Mr Shorten disagreed, stressing that the vaccine should be pushed as the thing that would take the country out of its Covid hell.
“I think we can get a decent vaccination rate if we are told that a decent vaccination rate is the key to freedom,” he said.
The former Labor leader briefly commented on how Mr Morrison needed a ‘kick up the backside in the polls’ and NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian was ‘trapped in her own rhetoric’ about lockdown – but this was all an afterthought.
Tensions spilled over this weekend in Bankstown, Sydney’s west, as the area suffers from a tougher lockdown than the rest of the city
Shops are closed in western Sydney and now in Victoria, where businesses are going out of business and perishables have to be thrown out
Can we skip all the BS now. What we need is hope. That the companies don’t have to throw away the food because it spoils because of the sudden lockdown,” he said.
“What we need is that uni kids from the country don’t starve because they haven’t lost their casual jobs and their family can’t keep them in uni.
“We need hope and the way we get hope is through leadership. That’s part of all of us too. Let’s take our kids and get them vaccinated. Let’s make the arrangements.’
Mr Stefanovic then teased Mr Shorten as to whether it was ‘not too late’ for him, following Mr Morrison’s plunge in popularity in the latest News Poll.
“Sometimes I spat that man got the job and I would love to be able to do this, but it didn’t,” replied the Maribyrnong MP.
“The universe doesn’t allow repeats, but what I can’t understand for the life of me is why he didn’t focus every day on vaccines and quarantine facilities.”
He said Mr Morrison was not the “hope merchant” Australia needed right now.
“What we need in Canberra is a factory for hope, not a factory for pessimism, not a factory that is too hard, not a factory for giving up,” he said.
Meanwhile, people lined up in front of the Viaduct Bar in Leeds, after the last legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England at midnight
”I don’t understand why you’re getting two different messages in Sydney,” Mr Shorten said of NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s emphasis on lockdown restrictions in Sydney’s southwest LGAs
‘People are hungry for a better way. Tell Australia where the finish tape is, every Australian will stand up and get that finish tape, but we need the leadership that deserves the sacrifice and we haven’t had this yet.”
Mr Shorten also criticized Ms Berejiklian for mixed messages to several Sydney LGAs about compliance with Covid restrictions, including not wearing a face mask during a weekend coffee session in Sydney.
‘I don’t understand why you’re getting two different messages in Sydney. Clear the confusion, Gladys,” he said.
“Nothing will hurt morale more than feeling like you’re struggling in some suburbs, the businesses aren’t open, the perishable food is thrown out, while in other suburbs they don’t seem to be bothered at all. ‘