Presenter blasts aged care minister for 'lack of basic knowledge'

Kamilia Palu
·News Editor
·4-min read

Radio host Jim Wilson has blasted the Minister for Aged Care Services over a lack of “basic” knowledge about the Covid vaccine rollout.

The 2GB host delivered a blistering three-minute segment criticising Richard Colbeck for his inability to answer questions pertaining to his portfolio.

Wilson suggested the “bumbling” minister should go as far as to cut off media appearances to instead focus on his job.

Jim Wilson pictured in his 2GB studio, and an inset of Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck.
2GB Drive host Jim Wilson didn't hold back in a scathing attack on Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck (right). Source: 2GB/AAP

“Off the back of what we’ve seen again this morning, he’s got to stop doing the interviews, he's not up to it,” Wilson said on his Drive show on Tuesday.

“He's got to start spending more time on helping elderly Australians have a better life.”

The two interviews that sparked heated reaction

The presenter’s rant was sparked by an interview that aired on Tuesday morning on colleague Ben Fordham’s breakfast radio show.

Fordham brought Senator Colbeck on-air to talk about the coronavirus vaccine rollout in aged care and also the recommendations of the aged care royal commission, which was released on Monday.

“Just on the vaccine rollout… you say the feds have administered 33,000 vaccines in aged care - can you tell us how many you’ve done in NSW?” Fordham asked.

“Look, I don’t have the NSW numbers with me,” Senator Colbeck responded. “But I do know that the NSW rollout has been slowed down while we make sure that we iron out some of the issues that we’ve had.”

Fordham then asked that the figures be sent to him directly.

"If possible we'd love to access some of those numbers about how many vaccines have been administered in aged care in NSW. I know you don't have them at your handy fingertips right now but if you could get them to us that would be fantastic," Fordham said.

Richard Colbeck appears at a senate inquiry into the aged care crisis.
Senator Colbeck was criticised over an awkward blunder at a parliamentary inquiry into the aged care crisis. Source: AAP

In response to the incident in which two elderly patients were given overdoses of the vaccine in Queensland, the minister said he had expected flaws at the start of the rollout process.

“I think there were always going to be a few things that didn’t work out properly in the early days of the vaccine rollout. Unfortunately the vaccine dosage in Queensland was one that I think was completely unacceptable.”

He said the doctor at the centre of the bungle had been referred to the “appropriate authorities” for review.

Interview follows 'disgraceful' effort at inquiry 

Senator Colbeck made headlines in August last year after he struggled through questioning at a Senate inquiry probing the coronavirus response.

He was unable to tell the inquiry how many nursing home residents had died from coronavirus and had to rely on a department official to provide the figure after a long and awkward pause.

During the questioning, Mr Colbeck spent nearly a minute trying in vain to find the answer.

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“The Aged Care Minister doesn't know how many people have died from COVID under his watch. Let that sink in,” Greens leader Adam Brandt said at the time.

“Incredible,” said Labor Senator Penny Wong. “Minister Colbeck doesn’t care, or he’s incompetent. Either way, older Australians and their families deserve better.”

Minister should know answers: Wilson

Wilson slammed the minister’s performances in the inquiry and this morning’s interview as “two very poor examples of this minister lacking detail that he should know in his brief”.

“And if I’m someone in aged care listening to that this morning with Ben … It showed little compassion as well,” he said.

“Surely when you’re going on the top rating breakfast program in our city, facts like that should be a given.”

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