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Transcript: Anna Bligh – how banks can help the vaccine rollout

7 July 2021

ABA CEO Anna Bligh was interviewed by Stan Shaw on ABC Perth on 7 July.

She discussed her upcoming meeting with COVID-19 vaccine Task Force Lieutenant General John Frewin with other corporate stakeholders.

Banks, as both major employers who already offer vaccinations, and who also have a network of branches, can help with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.


TRANSCRIPT

Stan Shaw  Now Anna Bligh is the CEO of the Australian Banking Association. She will be at today’s COVID-19 vaccine Task Force Lieutenant General John Frewin meeting and joins me. Good morning.

Anna Bligh  Good morning. How are you Stan?

Stan Shaw  I’m okay, good idea?

Anna Bligh  Look, I think as the General said, we need to deploy every resource, we’ve got to get Australians vaccinated as quickly as we can. Right now, we don’t have enough supply for workplaces to be doing this but we expect that that will change sometime in September. And we need to be ready to deploy as I said, every possible mechanism.

These large workplaces, including banks, all offer flu shots to their staff every year, they’ve got providers ready to go as soon as they can be accredited. And we could I think, really accelerate the program.

Stan Shaw  Do you think business could put other incentives on the table as well?

Anna Bligh  Well, I’m looking forward to the meeting this morning with Major General Frewin and the Treasurer, because I do understand that that idea will be on the table. I look forward to seeing exactly what sort of incentives they’re thinking about. But I do think there’s a great willingness out there for the Australian people to get the vaccine as quickly as they can.

But it is difficult for many people to get out to the vaccination hubs or to get a place in the queue with their local GP. Hopefully, that will get better as the supply comes online. But if we can take some of the people who might otherwise be in the queue, out of the queue at those hubs, and do it in their workplace, then it speeds it up for everybody else.


“banks have some very big workplaces, such as their head offices in major cities. But of course, they also have branch networks across Australia.”

Stan Shaw  And you know, utilizing big business in the private sector? I mean, it feels somewhat overdue. Why has it taken so long to get this meeting together?

Anna Bligh  Well, it’s a good question. I think having Major General John Frewin take over the reins and have a look at where all the hurdles and blocks are, and how he might overcome them, has brought a new set of eyes to the problem. But it has been the case up until now that there really hasn’t been enough supply of the vaccine for other providers to come into the system.

Most of these big companies engage private health care services. And right now they’re not accredited to give the vaccine. They’re in the process of getting that accreditation with their state health departments.

I hope that one of the things we can talk about today is how we can accelerate that accreditation. So as soon as we’ve got supply, we can push the button and start getting it done.

“These large workplaces, including banks, all offer flu shots to their staff every year, they’ve got providers ready to go as soon as they can be accredited. And we could I think, really accelerate the program.”

ABA CEO Anna Bligh

Stan Shaw   Anna Bligh, my guest CEO of the Australian Banking Association will be part of a meeting today Australia’s biggest companies meeting to look at their role in the vaccination role out and the idea of even offering vaccines in the workplace. Have you got any other ideas that you might bring personally to the meeting?

Anna Bligh  Well, what we’ll be talking about is not only the fact that banks have some very big workplaces, such as their head offices in major cities. But of course, they also have branch networks across Australia. And some of them already have providers in some of those smaller places as well.

I think what we know is that Australia is at its best when we all work together. And if we can bring the resources of corporate Australia to the efforts being made by governments, by state health departments, and by our GP network, then that’s got to be good news for everybody.

Stan Shaw  This text here, vaccinations at work leaves employers open for workers compensation if something goes wrong. That’s the point Peter makes, is he on to something there?

Anna Bligh  Well, certainly we’ll be looking at the liability questions. But remember that these employers already offer the flu shot. It certainly, I need to make clear, would not be compulsory for any worker to take the COVID vaccine, it will simply be a case of making it available in the workplace for those people who want to take it.

They’ll be administered by appropriately medically trained staff. And they’ll be making decisions as they would with their GP or with the providers at any of the hubs that currently exist. But yes, those questions will be on the table, but I think there’s some they’re not insurmountable.

Stan Shaw   Yeah. Hey nice to talk to you. Thank you for taking our early phone call as well and good luck of the meeting today.

Anna Bligh  Thank you very much.

Stan Shaw  That is Anna Bligh, the CEO of Australian Banking Association, part of a big meeting, the big corporates big business meeting today to look at their role in vaccination rollout.


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