4BC with Scott Emerson - 10 August 2021

SUBJECTS: Environmental Protests; Climate Change Policy; George Christensen. 
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: I'm always joined at this time of the week by the Labor Member for Oxley Milton Dick and also former ALP State Secretary, how are you Milton?
MILTON DICK, MEMBER FOR OXLEY: G'day Scott, g'day to your listeners,
EMERSON: Now you're down in Parliament, Federal Parliament is meeting today. I just want to start off with the issue about the protesters today, not this issue so much about climate, we will talk about that. But were you surprised, that they could get to Parliament House and the lodge, do the graffiti, light up a pram, I heard there was flares, as well. But what is security like down there?
DICK: Well, I don't- first of all, Scott, I don't think these people were protesters, I call them vandals. They - normally when protesters, and as most days of the week there'll be peaceful protesters outside the parliament, all things about, you know, the environment or, or, you know world affairs or foreign countries, you know, protesting about all sorts of things and sometimes you get down and see what they're on about. But it's normally very peaceful and they register, and it's, you know, a great place for them to voice their concerns. But overnight we saw anarchists and extremists deface the lodge and the Parliament, they didn't give any warning. I'm glad the Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews read the riot act to them, and she received a good response in the parliament from both sides of the house today during question time when she updated exactly what happened. So it is disappointing you know, I'm all for people, freedom of speech and having their say. But you don't deface our national parliament and certainly the lodge is not on, and if they want to make their protest, that's fine, but you don't do it by vandalizing our national institutions.
EMERSON: Well, it's good to hear you condemning them, I'm not surprised, I know you've been very clear on these kind of issues before. But what concerns me is the fact they could go do that, I mean, what you say they're not protesters and because they're vandals, if they've been terrorists, how can they get so close, and do that so much damage to the Parliament House and to the lodge?
DICK: I understand the AFP were pretty quick on the scene, they spray painting their message not actually on the parliament, it's sort of on the wall in front of you know imagine that, where the big fountains are and the big entrance is a fair way from the entrance to the Parliament. Parliament has been a big- security around Parliament's been beefed up over the last couple of years, but it is a concern that you know, of course they didn't do it in broad daylight, they did it under the cover of darkness and they probably thought they could sneak in, but the officers that do a great job protecting the Parliament, and national institutions, you know, whether it be the high court or any of our galleries. It's good to know that we've got a good security presence in the nation's capital, but I'm just really disappointed that, you know, the cost to the taxpayer number one. But number two, that if you want to protest and you want to have your say, by all means do it, do it the proper way, don't do it by wrecking and ruining and ultimately getting the taxpayer to pick up your bill.
EMERSON: Well, let's go to this report overnight from the UN's International Panel on Climate Change. We saw the Prime Minister come out today and say, again, not commit to the net zero emissions by 2050. There's been a lot of speculation that at some stage, he will do that, but he held back again today, and started talking about, look I'm not going to write a blank check, in terms of dealing with climate change. How much pressure is he under, from dealing with the Nationals on one side of his camp and also some of the liberals, on the other side and wanting to go much further in terms of dealing with climate change and making that declaration about net zero emission by 2050?
DICK: Look, I think that's a really fair statement, I mean watching the comments inside the government, I think, you know, it's been a curse of the Coalition Government for probably the last 10 years, under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. We've actually seen leaders removed as a result.
EMERSON: You say this but it devilled Labor so we still remember. Julia Gillard and, no, no carbon tax and all the issues that came up from that as well.
DICK: Yeah, but over the last, sort of, certainly the last terms of Parliament that I've sat in, there has been a unified approach by Labor, and you know we're committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and I may add so are all the state and territories, business, industry groups, but it is seems it seems to be an issue bedevilling, the Prime Minister I think ultimately, he will commit to this, I think the community and the business community in particular is ahead of where the Government is on this. You look what's happening inside conservative governments across Europe and the United Kingdom in particular, even Boris Johnson is way ahead of where Australia is. But Scott, I also see this as an opportunity for jobs renewal as well, we talk about the energy side but I'm also very confident that we can see, thousands of good paying jobs and growing industries and making power cheaper for homes and businesses alike. This is coming towards us. We've got to have a national government, quick on its feet, agile enough to be able to seize the opportunities, but unfortunately I don't think we're seeing, Scott Morrison because of you know, Barnaby Joyce and George Christensen, that's another issue we just had a debate about, about that, where he was condemned for his remarks around COVID about 10, 15 minutes ago. But when the Government is so divided on the basic science of climate change, let alone able to deliver on the opportunities, I guess, challenging the global economy. It does raise some red flags for many across the economic community, but also the environmental community as well. So I'm hopeful this report will be a bit of a wake up call, certainly has some damning statistics in there about where we're headed. And as we head towards Glasgow, which is the next, I guess, governing body that will meet around this, I'm hopeful the government will take further action and commit to that net zero by 2050, all other countries are, Australia's lagging, and we've got to get on board. 
EMERSON: Well that Glasgow climate change meeting is scheduled for November later this year. So time is running out. If the Prime Minister is going to make that announcement about commitment to net zero emissions. But as I said, I mean, I think I've been talking about this for some time, he has been kind of tiptoeing towards that, but especially with say Barnaby Joyce now being the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Nationals. That seems to have made it much, much harder for him to keep his troops in line on this one and get them in one space on the same page.
DICK: Well I think that that's, that's right, he's got the lead in the saddlebags, with some of the National Party, but not all of them you know, you're seeing some very sensible people come forward across the states and territories on the conservative side of politics, but it does seem to be a rump inside, particularly the Queensland LNP that seems to be dragging the PM behind on this, and look you know, these are tough calls, I get that Scott, but the Prime Minister's got to show leadership when it comes to tackling climate change. The rest of the world is. Our business leaders - I did a zoom today with a number of industry leaders - they're way ahead of where the government is. They are preparing for this, they are getting their industry and energy intensive industries, ready for this. It's just a disappointment that Scott Morrison isn't showing the leadership that our country and our nation needs, but we'll keep putting the pressure on them and making sure that the voices of industry is heard and particularly when it comes to the renewable jobs of the future, because that's where the economy's heading, and that's where the world is heading as well.
EMERSON: Now you mentioned George Christensen, the LNP member here in Queensland and the Debate in federal parliament just concluded, just explained to me the background to that?
DICK: Minutes before Question Time began this afternoon Scott, the member for Dawson George Christensen jumped on his feet and gave what I thought was probably one of the most alarming and selfish speeches I've seen in my time in the Parliament, where he said quote, 'marks, masks, don't work and lockdowns, don't work,' and he demanded an end to the madness of COVID 19. Now this is completely selfish from George Christensen, you think about all those businesses and families that are doing the right thing. Lockdown in Sydney, 363 cases today, 60 people in hospital, many people on ventilators, you know this guy needs to be called out. So, Anthony Albanese, straight after Question- Question Time jumped on his feet, condemned his actions and asked the Parliament to show leadership. Now Scott Morrison squibbed it a bit and didn't really mention that in his speech, but Dr. Mike Freelander the member for MacArthur, a Labor member, seconded the motion, gave one of the most powerful speeches I've heard, former paediatrician, gave the health experts opinion, you know, really nailed it. And I'm glad that the Government, and credit to the government, to join in with Labor to condemn George Christiansen and these quite fanatical views that he's starting to have, the conspiracy theory, sort of driven ideas that are not helpful for Australia's economy and our health, future, and I'm really glad that the parliament took action against these divisive comments and pulled him in the line.
EMERSON: It was very interesting in terms of that because, while Labor moved the motion, obviously the, the Federal Government had the capacity, not to allow it to occur and they did allow it, the, the acting Leader of the House Christian Porter, allowed Labor to move the motion. So that was interesting, allowing that to be discussed. So obviously I think within the Government's own ranks they are concerned about people like George Christensen, and the comments they are making about Covid. And, as you say the masks and lockdowns and vaccines and all those other things we're seeing out there, bit difficult for them, but of course George Christensen has announced that he is resigning or retiring at the next election. But until then, he remains a member of the LNP in the Federal Government.
DICK: Well I think the Government really should have enough of this sort of nonsense and it's not just him Scott it's, you know, people like Senator Gerard Reddick and Matt Canavan. We saw Craig Kelly and he removed himself from the Liberal party room. I think it's probably a long time, that the government stood up to George Christensen and removed him from the party room, he moved to the crossbench, and the government takes it seriously. We cannot have these views, Ministers on the floor of the National Parliament that want to undermine our critical health response to the biggest pandemic our nation's ever seen. It is not on, and I'm really pleased that the Government joined with Labor to send a very clear message to all those people out there that are undermining the health advice and expert scientific advice. I don't mind having a free debate but when these people use the floor of Parliament to put dangerous views, before the community, particularly those in lockdowns today. I'm glad that we could unite as one Parliament send a very clear message, and I hope that's a lesson to anyone else trying to espouse these crazy views. Always good to speak to you. 
EMERSON: We'll catch you again next week.
DICK: See you then.