SUBJECTS: Interstate Borders, Voter ID Laws
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Every week we are joined by the Federal Member for Oxley and also the former ALP State Secretary in Queensland, Milton Dick. Now I was just talking to Aaron then, and other callers and interviews we've done on the program already. Look, it is incredibly frustrating, I feel frustrated, and I feel so much sympathy for people that are stuck in those circumstances, especially those that are still stuck south of the border and can't come back to Queensland.
MILTON DICK, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR OXLEY: It's heartbreaking. I listened to what Aaron just said and you know, particularly with his Mum and Dad, it's a real struggle for a whole lot of people but I'm really, really hopeful and just praying that we get to the December 17so, you know, in six weeks time that heartbreak, families being separated, but also the impact that this has had on the emotional toll of so many people. Because, for every one Aaron, there's a family member, his kids, their relationships and on it goes and on it goes, so I think when we come out of this pandemic, you know, there's what a lot of people call the shadow pandemic, the mental health impacts and just the trauma involved with this. I think all Governments are going to have to really step in and do what we can to get people over this, because some of these heartbreaking stories will stay with people for the rest of their lives.
EMERSON: Well they will Milton Dick but you say, well, hopefully can get December 17. Well, look, it's still, what, six weeks away, five weeks away? It is a long time in people's lives still. That's the problem it's still- especially if you've been waiting months and months already.
DICK: Yeah, no, you know, we've been talking about this for a year and a half. You know, I've had local residents contact me in exactly the same circumstances, you do what you can to support them but it is heartbreaking. I'm not going to tell your listeners anything other than that. But Queensland's done so well in keeping COVID out and keeping our numbers down. And that's the pain that a lot of people have had to endure. And I think there'll be a whole lot of heroes after this that we need to recognize and look after when we do finally open. And as I said six weeks seems like a long way away. But after what we've been through, it's not too long to go as long as we keep those vaccination rates up and keep that needles going into people's arms.
EMERSON: Well, I think that is the other issue we're seeing at the moment, because I'm just concerned about those numbers Milton Dick, but the increase in the vaccination rate here in Queensland - it is slowing down, it is not going very fast at all. And that's always the worry, at the moment, that, well we'll get to 71.7, that is locked in. But say getting to 90% - goodness knows when we're going to hit that, sometime in January, maybe February, could be even later, given the rate of increase at the moment.
DICK: The numbers I'm seeing are very slow, Scott, so the message is still very clear. We've got to keep those numbers up. And you know, there has I think, been some complacency that's crept in, you know, while we keep getting those zero numbers and the world keeps going by I think a lot of regional Queenslanders in particular - that have done so well in keeping their communities COVID free - probably just need that final push to get the numbers up. I know in part of my electorate as well, numbers are still down from where they should be. The vaccination clinics have been fantastic. The Bunnings and the schools, Springfield Central State High School had a bumper weekend before last. So anything we can do to make it as accessible, as easy as possible, but to keep the message on and on and on about making sure that if you want to remain safe, just don't do it for yourself, do it for your families and the whole state as well.
EMERSON: Now I'm talking to Milton, the ALP member for Oxley. I wanted to speak to you today Milton, because I had the Senator for Queensland, James McGrath on the show the other day. Now he's part of the same parliamentary committee as you are, and he's been pushing, and the Government has brought in legislation, to have ID being required when you vote at the next federal election. Now, it's been put into Parliament, it hasn't been voted on, may not pass, may not be in place before the next federal election. But I know you've argued against this. Why are you opposed to it?
DICK: Well, I've strongly argued against it for many years Scott, because after 120 years of successful elections here in Australia, we've got some of the toughest and most robust electoral laws in Australia. And I don't think you need to listen to the politicians on this. I always say go to the experts. I listened to the electoral commissioner and the commission that run our elections, they say we do not need this. We do not need another layer of complexity for people going to vote. Now I'll paint a very easy picture for you, from where I live up the road is 500 meters is Inala State School, the lineup on Election Day is normally about 45 to 60 minutes. You see it coming right down the road outside of the school now, because we are going through this change for the first time in 120 years, bringing in these kind of new laws. If you turn up to the polling booth without your ID, you've left it in the car. What are you going to do, go back all the way back to the end of the queue? Now, we don't need people lining up, first of all, during a pandemic, we need to make voting as easy as possible. Second of all, there's no evidence as to suggest this is a requirement. Now for me, for you, for others, it might be okay, you can travel with your license on your phone, or in your wallet. But for a lot of people who don't carry ID, particularly seniors and pensioners who don't have photo ID, it's completely unnecessary, it's completely unjust. And I think they're doing this to try and suppress voters. They've tried this on in other parts of the world. And I've got to tell you, this has got me really fired up about it, and I'm going to fight this tooth and nail.
EMERSON: Alright, we'll follow this story really closely. And I might try to get you and James McGrath on at the same time at some point and you're going to, you can have a bit of a spat, just do Emmanuel Macron and Scott Morrison, here on 4BC drive, Milton Dick. I think this is an issue that our listeners here on 4BC drive are very interested in. Thanks for joining us this week. We'll catch you again next week.