Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview with Chris Smith - Chris Kenny Show Sky News

Ministers:

The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Education and Youth

Subjects: Pfizer supply and vaccination rollout, the draft school curriculum

 

CHRIS SMITH:

The national curriculum is being rewritten and there are concerns about what our children will be taught in history class. According to the draft document, students will be encouraged to contest the importance of ANZAC Day. Year 9 students will learn about the commemoration of World War I, including debates about the nature and significance of the ANZAC Legend. Alan Tudge is the Federal Education Minister and he joins me right now. Minister, thank you for your time.

ALAN TUDGE:

G’day, Chris. 

CHRIS SMITH:

Before we get to the demolition of ANZAC Day in black and white, just on this failure by the Health Minister to take this meeting with Pfizer in June, we should’ve done a little bit better in hindsight, shouldn’t we?

ALAN TUDGE:

I disagree with you saying that it was a failure of his. He and his Department and his office had been engaging with Pfizer way back as of May, last year. Pfizer themselves, have said that they got the doses to us, as quickly as possible and could not have been delivered earlier. I think the decisions have been good ones. We’ve got a lot of Pfizer coming now. We’ve obviously built up our sovereign vaccine capacity in the meantime, because Pfizer was concentrating on North America and Europe at that time because there were so many mass deaths going on. 

CHRIS SMITH:

I heard what Dan Andrews had to say about this issue today. He got very enraged. This is part of what Chairman Dan had to say.

DANIEL ANDREWS:

[Start of excerpt]
The fact that it would seem Pfizer were throwing themselves at the Government last year. I'll leave Minister Hunt to speak to that. He's the best person. They weren't having meetings with me. They didn't offer me millions of doses and only to be told no. Only Greg Hunt can answer those questions. Wouldn't it be better if we'd all been vaccinated 80 per cent double dose back in March? There'd be no lockdown now. There'd be no businesses failing. We'd be back to normal. In fact, if we'd got vaccinated sooner, then we would have been able to take advantage of the fact that we would literally have been the safest place in the world.
[End of excerpt]

CHRIS SMITH:

Alan, it was the overwhelming recommendation from the Chief Medical Officer that we have our own manufacturing capacity here in Australia, and that was only capable with AstraZeneca, right?

ALAN TUDGE:

Exactly right. So that's what's been done. That's what we have built. And about 10 million people have been jabbed with AstraZeneca. I’ll just say in relation to Daniel Andrews there, I don't want to pick a fight with him, but he's politicised this issue through those comments. He knows full well what Greg Hunt had been saying this morning and last night. That is that he had been engaging with Pfizer way back as May, but that Pfizer themselves have said that no further doses were available to us until they came. Then when they did come, they were in the numbers which they were able to provide to us. That's what Pfizer have said, and Greg Hunt has obviously made clear, exactly what occurred last year as well.

CHRIS SMITH:

Okay. I want to talk about ANZAC Day. Can you explain to me why I should be ashamed or guilty about ANZAC Day? Can you explain that to me? And who are these people who think that we should?

ALAN TUDGE:

Chris, I cannot explain that to you. ANZAC Day is the most sacred day on the Australian calendar, where we quite rightly stop, pause, commemorate, and give thanks to the 100,000 men and women who died for our country, and the million people who have served for our nation and protection of our freedoms. This business of this draft national curriculum, where it says that kids are supposed to, not just learn about ANZAC Day, but contest it from different ideas because there might be a 0.1 per cent of fringe activists who want to say that ANZAC Day is about war mongering. I think that's what they're getting at, and unfortunately, they've had too much of the pen in this draft curriculum. I can tell you, I'm not putting up with it. I won't have a bar of it, and I certainly won't be approving it, if it comes back with that type of language.

CHRIS SMITH:

All they have to do is get the mood of the community when they put these curriculums together. The mood of the community proved when we had the Centenary commemoration of the ANZAC spirit, it illustrated the public stance, because everyone came out and got involved.

ALAN TUDGE:

Absolutely, Chris. I mean, even earlier this year when we were in lockdown, or much of Australia was in lockdown on ANZAC Day, people went out to the front of their houses at dawn with candles to commemorate it. I'm from Melbourne. You go to the MCG on ANZAC Day with one of the great football matches there, you could hear a pin drop when they have the minute's silence with 100,000 people packed into that stadium. That's a mark of the respect which mainstream Australians have for ANZAC Day. As I've said, it is just such a fringe to think that ANZAC Day is not properly worth commemorating for what it is, and that is giving thanks to those who served for us.

CHRIS SMITH:

On a different level, I want my children to come out of school, not as a cynic, maybe as a sceptic on some of the big issues in our history but not as a cynic with a bent against some of our most glorious days.

ALAN TUDGE:

No, I think that's exactly right. Chris, there is a reason that Australia is a magnet for millions of migrants to come here. There's a reason for that. It's not because we're this horrible, terrible, sexist, racist country. We are one of the greatest egalitarian, free, wealthy countries on Earth, and that's why we're such a magnet for migrants around the world. Kids should understand how we became such a free, egalitarian, wealthy nation so that they can defend it properly, just as previous generations have done.

CHRIS SMITH:

Yeah absolutely. Alan Tudge, thank you very much for your time.

ALAN TUDGE:

Great to be with you, Chris.