SUBJECTS: Greenway 91% first dose vaccinations; Western Sydney Lockdown; French-Australian Submarine deal; AUKUS; Eastern Suburbs Lockdown Freedoms;

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me live now is Michelle Rowland, Shadow communications Minister just off the back of that, Michelle, good to see you, by the way, thanks for your time. Are you concerned about our relationship with France at the moment?

MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, I think it's clear there is work that needs to be done there. But these questions need to be answered by Scott Morrison and his government. I heard the French ambassador speaking earlier today and his displeasure was made known. But again, these are questions for this Government to answer about how it’s going to navigate through what appears to be a difficult period.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, now you've got the eased restrictions in the western parts of Sydney that are on the way now, is that good enough?

ROWLAND: Well, let's be clear, this has been hard earned by the people of Western Sydney, the vast majority of whom are doing the right thing, and I'm confident will continue to do the right thing, but above all else, have come out to get vaccinated in conditions that made it actually difficult to do so with a lack of supply or lack of locations — but they've done it. And I must say how proud I am to represent the people of Greenway, who in the past week clocked up the best electorate in the entire country for vaccinations; 91% first dose and 47% double dose. But I think there are mixed feelings here. People do want life to get back to normal. It's pleasing to see that from today a lot of those restrictions are going to come into line with the rest of Greater Sydney. There are still big questions about the way forward here, especially for small businesses, and for children going back to school.

STEFANOVIC: Are you concerned at all about divisions remaining?

ROWLAND: I am, because the images that we've seen of what appears to be greater freedoms being enjoyed by people in the Eastern Suburbs compared to this part of the world, there is some resentment about that. By and large people I listen to want to get on with their lives, they want to get back to some sense of new normal understanding that not everything will go back to being normal. But above all else, everyone wants to stay safe and it's a real tribute to everyone who's worked so hard to get to this point here in Western Sydney.

STEFANOVIC: Well, on that point. I mean, you are right. Some of the vaccination rates really took off. And not just in your electorate, some others from your colleagues as well. A really fantastic job from people in the western parts of Sydney as well. And there's so much attention that's placed on a caseload that seems to be dropping by the day, suggestions that the peak has now passed. But inevitably, that's going to go the other way again, and perhaps in the not too distant future. What concerns are you do you have at the moment with perhaps, resources or infrastructure that may or may not be in place to be able to handle that?

ROWLAND: The concerns are largely the capability of our existing healthcare system and that includes our hospitals. We know that ambulances in the not too recent past have been turned away from Blacktown and Westmead hospitals. We know that there are some 1,000 or so healthcare staff who are furloughed at any given time. Questions still remain about our capacity to cope, especially when restrictions eased even further, and we expect, according to the health professionals, to have greater infection rates. So all of this does not bode well for a system that is already under great pressure. At the same time, we need to be concerned about people's lives, who are infected and are going through their own isolation periods. I've heard some very distressing stories from our local area about people who, because of paperwork not being done on time, have been left in their homes for weeks and weeks. They are relying on the goodwill of many local organisations here in our community and that's simply not good enough.

STEFANOVIC: Michelle Rowland, really appreciate your time as always, thank you.