4BC Drive with Scott Emerson - 7 December 2021


SUBJECTS: School Graduations, US Boycott of Beijing Olympics, Newspoll, Albo coming to Queensland

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST:  Every week we are joined by the member for Oxley, the former ALP state secretary Milton Dick. How are you Milton?

MILTON DICK, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR OXLEY:  Hello Scott, just in the middle of - which you recall fondly I'm sure - school graduation of Year 6 ceremonies. So it's a big week this week, for all Year Six students at our state schools graduating. So, lots to do this week, but really loving every moment.

EMERSON:  And I don't want to take you away from one of those ones, Milton Dick. They're always good. I've always told the story about it, when you're a politician, you go to it and it's great to see lots of parents there. But it's always interesting to talk to some of the parents and some of the parents will say, look, I'm waiting here for my child to just, you know, do the little tap on one of the instruments right at the end after three hours. Just waiting for that moment, they're trying to capture it with the camera and I used to say to them, that's fine - this is my fourth one of the week. But we love them. We do love them.

DICK:  I'll be honest with your listeners. I've got 53 schools and there's about 23 state schools graduating this week. So, I reckon I've got my last one on Thursday night. I reckon by then I'll know every school song, as they walk out and I'll probably be exhausted with some of their grandparents and parents as well. But it's a lovely, lovely week for all of our students that are graduating.

EMERSON:  Well the other thing I also notice is that - I don't know what is the song this year, but having done a few Year 6 graduations, they always have a bit of a musical show that the kids want and they pick a song they like and I used to find the same song would pick up many of the same graduations, and you can always tell what was obviously the favourite song that year. I can remember where was Timmy trumpet one year, he was very popular. And is there a particular song this year?

DICK:  It's Birds of Tokyo getting a rerun, that's a pretty popular band that's being played a lot when they march - oh sitting in the hall of fame. That's the other one that's been in my ears all week.

EMERSON:  It is something good, unless you've been in that job as a local MP going to these ones you don't necessarily pick up, so that sounds like a great part of the job. Let's talk about some of the other parts of, the serious parts of being an MP and the kind of issues that MPs and Governments and Oppositions have to make. Let's talk about the Beijing Winter Olympics early next year, the US today announced that they will be implementing a diplomatic boycott of the games. Should Australia follow America's lead?

DICK:  Well, look, I've been listening to what the Government has been saying about this very closely. Scott, I don't want to announce any formal position of the Commonwealth Government because I don't have that ability to do that. But I think a lot of those considerations will have to be taken into, some of the human rights issues that other countries are looking at. But I think we need to take a very cautious approach. I don't want the Government to rush into anything. I've seen some backbenchers announcing from the Government side, announcing what the Government should do, we will wait, and you know, I'll defer to our Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who no doubt will be being in discussions with the Foreign Minister Marise Payne, to make sure that whatever position Australia comes to is united one, to make sure that we go forward in some sort of unity, because this is a pretty significant issue facing the Government, particularly if they go down this diplomatic route.

EMERSON:  Well, I think it is important for the Government and the Opposition have a chat about this before any a formal announcement. I think that'd be a sensible way. But I must admit, I've sort of talked about it at length today on 4BC Drive, about the horrendous situation for the Uighur people in China with those "education centres", the Chinese Government call them, and more than a million people detained at the moment there. It is a terrible situation. Surely the  democratic countries around the world have to make sure that their concerns about that situation is well known?

DICK:  Well, that's right and we're seeing more and more people speak out. You know, the Federal Government will be following this. I've listened to what Minister Robert has said and the Sports Minister as well. There hasn't been a formal decision by the Government but obviously, we want to make sure that where we can Australia's voice is heard, to defend human rights and to speak out against some of those human rights abuses that we're seeing right across the globe. So, I would hope the Government takes its time and makes sure that it does in a very cautious approach. We don't want any more straight from the hip kind of comments from the Government regarding China. It is a very important relationship for our country. We need to make sure that we're thinking very seriously about how we manage the relationship going forward. And I'll be keeping a close eye on this to make sure that we work together with the Government to make sure we get the best outcome.

EMERSON:  Well, let's see if there's an announcement. I think that we should be expecting an announcement, maybe one way or another, in next couple of days following what happened in the US overnight. Now let's go to the Newspoll. The Newspoll came out at the beginning of the week, but the numbers didn't really shift in terms of two party preferred vote, though Labor continues to lead 53/47. Now, we've talked about the reliability or otherwise of Newspolls, and not just Newspoll, but other polls as well. Of course, they got it completely wrong in 2019. I did see also that this one, this Newspoll also had a look at a survey of what people do think and I guess the good news, maybe for Labor is that 47% of the public think that Labor is going to win the next election and compared to 37% that thought that the Coalition was going to win. Is that a good number for Labor? Because nearly every politician wants to say that they're the underdogs, and everything I'm seeing says that Labor isn't the underdogs.

DICK:  Obviously, these polls show that there is a growing dissatisfaction with Scott Morrison and the Government. I don't think you need to be a pollster to work that out. It has been a horrid couple of weeks, with Ministers retiring, Ministers going to the backbench, scandal after scandal, you know the normal run of the mill with this Government. But you know, you got to take it- you got to look at history here, and the Labor Party has only won Government three times from Opposition since World War Two. We've only done it once with a majority and that was back in 2007, back to 83 in 1972. So you'd have to say that history is against us when we go into general elections, but I'm confident once we say the policies and we've had some big announcements on the weekend with free TAFE. And a big focus on skills and training by Anthony Albanese over the weekend. And obviously our climate policies announced late last week, about 600,000 new jobs for Australia. Obviously those issues are going to come closer and closer to the election. And I'm really keen now that the borders are opening to get Anthony Albanese up in Queensland on the ground. I know he's champing at the bit. I reckon he'll be hopefully here before Christmas. I've certainly sent that message to him. And then I would expect that he probably in the Prime Minister will spend a lot of time in early January, hitting the hustings because they've got a bit of ground to make up because of the borders being closed. I reckon Queensland will be ground zero when it comes to 2022.

EMERSON:  I'm a bit worried here now Milton Dick, because I had James McGrath on, the LNP Senator for Queensland yesterday. He reckoned that Scomo was going to be up here within hours of the borders opening at 1am on December 3 and you're saying a little bit later in December? Surely Albo is going to try to beat Scomo up to Queensland?

DICK:  Well, I don't know if their planes will be revving to take off, if they'll be fighting to get up here, but I know that Anthony Albanese is very keen to come to Queensland. We've only got, say, one or two weeks to go, so I expect that he will be in the Sunshine State campaigning hard. He did do a lot of work before the borders closed up here and, you know, a very frequent flyer into our state, but we've probably got a long way to go. So I would encourage him to spend as much time here as possible. If he wants to come up and have Christmas here on the beaches, I reckon he'd be very, very welcome. Because I think you'll see a lot of interstate travellers wanting to finally enter in here and that's going to be great for our tourist dollars, particularly up and down the coast where everyone is raring to go.

EMERSON:  All right, then well, we'll wait to see who gets up here, whether it's Scomo or Albo. But Milton Dick, always good to have you on the show. Catch you again next week.