Sky News Interview: First Edition: WHO Funding, Coronavirus, Wet Markets, Schools



SUBJECTS: WHO Funding, Coronavirus, Wet Markets, Schools

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: First of all, it’s a pretty significant announcement from Donald Trump. Peter, what are your thoughts on that, withholding funding to the WHO? 

PETER KHALIL, MP: Yeah, it’s a big decision Pete, because right now with this global pandemic, we do need an international organisation like the WHO to do very important work, but there are legitimate criticisms, of their performance. Even I was a bit flabbergasted by their recent advice around wet markets being able to stay open in China because of the importance of livelihoods, of that demographic that rely on it. That might be maybe so, but, but of course, many of these pandemics, these, these viruses have emerged from these wet markets typically around the wild animal sales at these wet markets. And of course, Covid19 is most likely to emerge from a wet market in Wuhan. So there’s real concern around the advice of the WHO and some of its performance. I guess it’s going to be a big decision for Scott Morrison as well as to whether the Federal Government continues to support the WHO and its work. It still does a lot of good work, I should say globally with respect to this pandemic, but there are legitimate criticisms around its performance.  
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: I mean even there’s calls now for Taiwan to be included because they’ve claimed that the WHO is basically just parroting China’s propaganda. But I mean there is, there was an important clarification here, someone noted on Twitter this morning, that a wet market is actually any type of market that’s right around the world, it’s, it’s basically the ice that is melted on the floor, but the difference here is, is the live and the exotic animals.  
PETER KHALIL, MP: Exactly right. You’re right Pete. This is where the problem has been with the emergence of avian influenza, SARS and now Covid19. It’s around the exotic animals, the wild animals where, zoologically, I guess I’m not an expert in this, but they don’t usually sit on top of each other in the wild. And there’s a transference of viruses from, from one animal to another and then on to humans. And the lack of health and safety regulations around that aspect of the wet markets is the real cause for concern and I would hope China takes responsibility for these and puts in very strict measures around those aspects of the wet markets. You don’t close down the whole market where you’re selling fruit and vegetables and even just beef and chicken and poultry and stuff. But we’re talking about those areas where there’s the highest risk where viruses like these have emerged in the past. Shut that down, make sure that that is dealt with because China has a responsibility to the world and I would hope that they act in a positive way going forward to help, obviously with the global economic recovery, but to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. 
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Peter, just before we go, we’ve got about a minute left. Just schools. It’s going to be the hot button issue of the next couple of days here locally anyway. Scott Morrison says that basically kids should be going back. States at moment are kind of not going so fast. What do you think needs to happen here?  
PETER KHALIL, MP: Well, I think like most parents, all parents are stressed around the country, and it doesn’t really help to have these mixed messages between the State Governments and the Federal Government. I want them to clean this up. The national cabinet has worked very effectively during this crisis and it’s a real credit to the Federal Government and various State Governments of all political persuasions. They’ve worked really, really well together –there have been a few differences obviously. But this one’s a bit of a marker here because it, it is conflicting advice. We’re getting different advice from State and Federal Governments on where the schools should reopen or when they should reopen and so on. I just want them to clean this mess up and I think they owe it to parents to provide consistent and clear advice from all levels of government. 
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: That’ll probably be a central theme at national cabinet tomorrow. Peter, really appreciate your time. Thanks so much for joining us and talking about that breaking news.