Transcript: Tasmania Talks with Aaron Stevens

Aaron: For the first time on Tasmania Talks I am joined by Federal Labor Member for Lyons, Brian Mitchell, Brian good to talk to you.

Brian: Good morning Aaron, and all your listeners.

Aaron: What was it like to be in Canberra this week as Gary Ivory was presented with the VC for his Uncle Teddy Sheean?

Brian: Very special day, unfortunately of course I couldn’t be there, it was a very closed shop in terms of the investiture, but I have felt the love from here in Parliament House, Gary and the crew were down there at Yarralumla, what a fantastic day for Tasmania and the Sheean Family.

Aaron: And as we said and stressed during that period of time, it’s something we really needed in 2020.

Brian: Yeah, some good news doesn’t go astray, it’s been a tough year all around for a lot of people.

Aaron: Speaking of good news though, vaccines we’ve been told will roll out in Britain next week, or the vaccine in particular that we got out hands on, ten million doses, expected to arrive in March, great news going forward.

Brian: It is good news and I think we will all be very pleased once that roll out starts to happen, of course its got to be said that a vaccine is not a cure and is not something that will end the pandemic, but for the vaccine to work there are all sorts of medical intricacies, but good news nevertheless, here is hoping that by early next year we can put this horrid year behind us and get back to normal.

Aaron: Are you concerned with the amount of people that are saying they won’t get the vaccine.

Brian: This has been a growing trend across western democracies and is quite a concern, that people that should know better are refusing to take vaccinations, and of course that puts the entire community at risk, because there is a small number of people in the community who for good reason, for good medical reason are unable to have vaccinations and by the rest of us being vaccinated, they’re protected. When people who can and should be vaccinated choose not to be, that leaves big gaps in the herd immunity and that puts people at risk, so I will be very disappointed if people who are able to take the vaccine choose not to because of silly conspiracy theories.

Aaron: Are you expecting the government to put restrictions on people who don’t get the vaccine?

Brian: Look, from what I understand. The Government is being reluctant to talk about Government restrictions, but I know private businesses have been talking about it, for example Qantas has said if your not vaccinated, you will not be able to fly with them, now I would imagine that if you turn up with a medical certificate to Qantas and say look, my doctor said I cannot be vaccinated, I would hope that they allow that person to fly and I would think that Government would step in if they said that they can’t. But if you’re somebody who just says I don’t want to be vaccinated, then you know, Qantas I guess has every right not to have you as a passenger.

Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. Wil be interesting to see how that develops. Few things this morning I want to get your thoughts on, the voluntary assisted dying bill has the best ever chance to pass in Tasmania today, with debate starting in the lower house today, how are you feeling about the bill?

Brian: My understanding is there is a very good chance of passing, Sarah Courtney, the Government member has decided she is voting for it, so you know, one or two votes from Government members will really swing it, every Labor member has indicated they’ll are voting for it, and I imagine the two Greens will be voting for it as well. Look, I think there is a really good chance.

Aaron: It is terrific that we’ve got an opportunity to lead the way on this.

Brian: It is a big call and it’s a big conscious vote and every member is free to vote to their conscious and the majority it seems are voting for dignity, to approach the end of life with dignity. So, the community shifted a lot on this in the last few years and what been key to that, is having the security of knowing that things are going to be done right. This is not what some people call a suicide bill, what this is, is people who are terminal, who are going to die regardless, being able to approach the end of their own life, on their own terms with dignity.

Aaron: And we’ve grown up a lot, the fact we can have an open and honest conversation about this is important too.

Brian: It is, it is and that has been a very good part of this debate, it has been free of this vitriol and it’s been free of some of the crazy outlandish claims that perhaps occurred in the past, and a lot of heartfelt decision making and debate on this. People have got strong views either way. What I think is important is that we all hear each other out and respect each other’s point of view and then vote accordingly to our conscious.

Aaron: Yeah absolutely, can you tell us about Legislation that is being presented that would fast track apprenticeships?

Brian: Look, this is really concerning, there is push behind the scene at the national training level to basically have no requirement for on the job training for apprentices, to give trades certificated for apprentices that could just be classroom learning completely. I am fighting this very hard and I am trying to talk to my colleagues to make sure that Labor takes a position officially against it, this is sort of going through the labyrinth of back rooms, of the training facilities, essentially a push by some of the RTO’s and they got some support from some state governments to not make on the job training compulsory for apprentices, this is crazy when you are talking about quite dangerous trades, you know, electricians, welders. People that need to have competence and know exactly what they are doing when they’re out there the job. If they get all their learning just from theory and from online learning, from going into a classroom. I don’t think that cuts the mustard.

Aaron: I can’t understand who would think this is a good idea. We actually had a preliminary conversation on this last week, on Tasmania Talks, especially on the fact that some TasTafe training is going online and not enough learning is being done in the workplace, on the job. Then there were questions about the qualifications about some people who are actually doing the training, to actually take people out of the workplace all together would be insane.

Brian: I agree with you Aaron, insane is the right word. It is important to note that employers and unions are against this, we have employers and unions both lining up saying don’t do this. You would think the Government would listen. I think this is a push that is being put on by people with skin in the game that basically want to make more money, and that’s the RTO’s, they are pushing for this because they know it is cheaper for them to deliver a trade certificate if they don’t have the apprentices having to go out on site, they’re trying to convince the regulators that this is appropriate, now nobody disagrees that some classroom learning is appropriate, you get some good education from books and from being in a classroom and online learning and those sort of things, but what is key to trades is going out there on the job, with an experienced mentor who can show you the ropes and show you what needs to be done and show you the meter box and actually see where the circuits are and how it all works. That is just essential from my point of view and I’ll fight this very, very hard.

Aaron: So, when are we expecting to see this come to light this legislation?

Brian: Well it is not at the legislative stage yet, it is at a regulatory stage through the training back rooms, there is an Australian skills group institution and its going through that process at the moment and that is through the COAG system as well. So, it is not coming up for legislation at this stage, but we are trying to fight it before it gets there.

Aaron: Well alright, keep us updated on that won’t you?

Brian: We will Aaron.

Aaron: I am sure we will get calls about that this morning, 1300 001 012, just finally before we go to news. The Federal Government is establishing a National Commissioner instead of a Royal Commission into Defence and Veterans Suicide, something we spoke about to Senator Jacqui Lambie about this week. So, basically not independent, you want a Royal Commission?

Brian: A Royal Commission is essential, a commissioner doesn’t go far enough, and I’ll leave you with the words of Nikki Jamieson whose son Daniel died by suicide, while in service, she is a Tasmanian woman. What Scott Morrison has done, is he has completely removed the veterans voice from this, that is what a national commissioner does, you don’t get the veteran being able to talk about their experiences as they would if there was a proper Royal Commission, we need a royal commission into Veterans, there is so much evidence about the mental health, the suicides, the homelessness. We need a Royal Commission into Veterans.

Aaron: Absolutely. Well keep in touch on those. Brian, great to talk to you.

Brian: Thanks Aaron.

Aaron: Brian Mitchell, Federal Labor Member for Lyons joining us on Tasmania Talks. If this conversation has raised any issues for you, contact lifeline 131114 or open arms free counselling for veterans and their families on 1800 011 046.