SUBJECTS: Malka Leifer, COVID-19 and Victoria, Schools in Victoria, Border closures
Chris Kenny: Let’s go to Canberra now and catch up with the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan. Thanks for joining us, Dan. But, first up, not only as Education Minister but as a Victorian, you’d welcome that news, it’s far from settled, but another step forward in getting that extradition in place so that Malka Leifer could face trial in Australia.
Dan Tehan: It is, Chris. It’s another step forward towards justice in Victoria, and for those families and the children, in particular, so let’s hope that the extradition can now go ahead, and that we can really make sure that there is a day at court. Because, everyone wants to make sure that there can be a proper hearing, and that justice can prevail, if that’s, if that’s what the courts decide.
Kenny: Okay. Now, the Premier in Victoria Daniel Andrews announcing today that it was a great day for Victoria because there are only 11 new coronavirus infections. But, is it a great day for Victoria, when most of the state is still in lockdown, when Melbourne is under curfew, when businesses are going broke, when people are losing their livelihoods, and losing any sense of hope?
Tehan: Well, Chris, from my point of view, a great day for Victoria would be when we’ve got all the school children back at school, getting that face-to-face teaching. That would really be a great day, and all those parents who have put in those tireless hours educating their children at home, have done an outstanding job. I’m sure they would also think it’s a great day when, when all the children are back at school. They’ve now missed large amounts of that face-to-face teaching, and I think that’s the type of occasion when we can sit back and say something has really been achieved.
Kenny: Is there any reason now, given the low levels of transmission in Victoria, is there any reason that all school, all school students shouldn’t be going back to school for the final term?
Tehan: Well, we’ve obviously seen in regional Victoria the school term has been brought forward, so, which, for term four we’ll have children back for the start of term four, which is very welcome news. Given these numbers, I think now, seriously, the Victorian State Government should look at making sure that as many students as possibly can, can commence at the, on the first day of term four. I think that would be a great outcome for families and for those students, and hopefully they’ll be able to now look at what’s happening with the virus and, and decide to bring some of those easing of restrictions forward. And, what a great thing it would be if the first thing they could do is say to all students, ‘You can be back day one of term four.’ I think students, parents, and the broader community would welcome that with open arms.
Kenny: Now, just want to talk about border restrictions between the states. We’ve spoken to you before, and we asked you to look after Brad Trahar. Now, he’s a bloke who left Victoria to take a job in Mount Gambier, just across the South Australian border. But, his family were left stranded behind in Victoria. It seemed a particularly unjust and unfavourable determination. Were you able to help him out?
Tehan: We were – and thanks to you for raising that – and we got in contact with Brad straight after the show, and him and his family now have their situation fully resolved, which is a great outcome for Brad, because he was very keen to make sure his wife and kids could join him, and that now is the case. And, they’re working out exactly what that timing will be. So, we got a very good outcome there, and hopefully we’ll see more outcomes like that as we can start to dismantle the borders as we once again, in particular, get on top of the coronavirus in Victoria.
Kenny: Well, look, yeah, New South Wales, and under Premier Gladys Berejiklian, has been the standout state in doing the, lifting the heavy load when it comes to quarantine, people coming in from overseas, and trying to keep the state functioning pretty much normal, and trying to keep borders open. Have a listen to what she said today about the other states. Sorry, I’m told we don’t have that Gladys Berejiklian grab. Is that right?
Tehan: That’s alright, Chris, I got a …
Kenny: … Alright. Yeah, sorry, yeah, sorry, Dan. Yeah, you’ve heard what she’s had to say. She’s essentially saying the other states are happy to take the GST money, but they’re not there doing their bit for the federation, they’re not doing their bit for the country and the other states.
Tehan: I thought what she said was incredibly sensible, and I, I hope that the other premiers and chief ministers were listening because I think she’s shown outstanding leadership. It’s easy to be popular on, on these issues, but there’s a greater need, in terms of the federation, for us to do the right thing, and I think Gladys has spoken for a lot of people when she said it’s time that we did the right thing, rather than the popular thing. And, my hope is, especially when you see what’s been occurring at the border – some of the issues around people trying to get health care, trying to get educational outcomes, trying to be able to continue to have a job and pursue their livelihoods – my hope is that Gladys will be listened to. Because, I think what she said today was eminently sensible.
Kenny: It was indeed, and thanks for joining us, Dan.
Kenny: Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan there.