4BC with Scott Emerson - 21 August 2021


SUBJECTS: Melbourne protests, Queensland/NSW Border Bubble, Newspoll 

EMERSON:   I'm joined now my the Member for Oxley and Former ALP State Secretary. Well, Milton, how are you?

DICK:   I'm very well, glad to be out of home quarantine and back in sunny Forest Lake.

EMERSON:   Oh, wonderful. So a bit windy out there I think today, you probably brought the wind with you then out of home quarantine.

DICK: Yeah, well I've been busily making myself known around the community over the last couple of days. It's amazing when you've been isolated from people - I have got a lot of sympathy for people who have done quarantine, now I've done it twice - so I've really enjoyed getting back out in the community and catching up with everyone.

EMERSON:   I'm sure glad to see you out there Milton. Let me just turn to the events that are unfolding in Melbourne over the last 48 hours - still seeing those protesters out there on the streets of Melbourne blockading roads there. Now, some horrific scenes, we did see that particularly yesterday, but even today with one reporter attacked during those protests. These are just appalling scenes. I guess the question I was asking a lot of our listeners today: do you think Australian society has changed? I don't know if we would have seen the level of violence we've seen in this protest very often in Australia's history.

DICK:   Yeah look I think it is a symptom of what is happening out there, there's incredible frustration in the community, I think, people after being so patient and diligent over the last year and a half have been all in this together and I think Australians have done a remarkable job, Queensland has been a shining example of, you know, keeping Coronavirus out.

But I got to tell you, the protests I've seen are, I would say over the last 24 to 48 hours, practically un-Australian. To see that sort of violence and that mob mentality from, you know, people pretending to be unionists - and I've seen quite a lot of reports today of people going up to the $2 shops and getting the high-vis shirts to protest at the CFMEU office, I'll tell you one thing about the CFMEU Scott - when they protest, they protest in full regalia, their shirts, their caps, their flags, you know. I didn't see too many of those so called tradies that were protesting, and the violence that have come out of this you know, we've spoken about this before, whether it be people protesting on the streets, you can't protest against Coronavirus. The virus doesn't listen to these idiots that are protesting, you know the CFMEU Union has been trying to do the right thing by its members, getting them vaccinated to protect their members like good unionists do, to make sure their workplaces are safe, but these kind of antics I don't think have any place in our politics at the moment, and I would tell all those people to back off. I've seen journalists abused as well, and I've seen the police put in terrible positions and I just think that enough's enough, and anyone breaking the law, the book should be thrown at them.

EMERSON:   Anyone breaking the law, yes, they should throw the book at them, I just want to take up one of the things you just said there Milton, because I was on a program with Bill Shorten this morning, and Bill Shorten said something along the same lines as you just said then that, you know, he didn't believe these were legitimate unionists and tradies that there was, you know, almost a political protesters, agitators, who've got involved in this. Are you saying that they're not unionists, they're not tradies involved in this protest?

DICK:   Well I think you only need to look at some of them and I've read media reports and well known anti-vaxx campaigners also happened just to be there. Now the last time I've seen and reported on some of these people they weren't on building sites, so you know, I think we need to have a good look at who exactly is protesting, and what they're protesting about. I've seen plenty of anti-vaxxers in their statements and their signs, they're there for goodness sake, you know, there's no point protesting against workers who are trying to protect themselves and their families. And you know I've seen Sally McManus and the Council of Trade Unions condemn, you know, these actions, and I think that is the right course of action. Look, if people want to protest, they've got every right to do that, peacefully, and to make their, their voice heard, but not the kind of intimidation and sort of tactics that we've seen, and I really hope that things calm down there because that is not helping people get back into work, it is a terrible situation that we're seeing in Victoria. I really hope common sense can prevail.

EMERSON:   I'm talking to Milton Dick, the Labor Member for Oxley. Now Milton Dick the - unfortunately - the border bubble has burst between the Tweed and the Coolangatta today with their lockdown in New South Wales and restrictions now going to be enforced from Queensland from 1am tomorrow morning, this is only going to have a big impact on a lot of people down there particularly businesses, and, and the community in general.

DICK:   100%, and you're looking right in the middle of holidays, right in the middle of school holidays you know those businesses, those border businesses, those borders at Coolangatta, you know, I've been reading about how tough it has been for those.

But New South Wales I think recorded 1022 newly acquired cases today and very, very tragically 10 deaths. Obviously with those shires of Byron Bay and Tweed going into lockdown, you know, we've got to make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect Queenslanders. And of course with the rising case numbers in northern New South Wales, the virus is getting closer and closer to Queensland and that will present a real risk to the southern parts of the Gold Coast. And I know there's a lot of families on holidays as well. So once again we're saying, lots of disruption, but you know the same old story of, we can get those vaccinations right out, which is a big boost on the weekend - I think we need a couple more of those. And I've been talking to the local health authorities in my area since I've been back on deck, trying to look at as much as we can, particularly through our multicultural communities, getting those numbers up as well, and making sure that we're getting the message out, there still is a lot of Queenslanders that have to be vaccinated, they need to get vaccinated as quickly as possible so if you're listening today and you're waiting, well, here's another reason why you should because it's coming to the doorstep of our state, you need to ring Queensland Health, ring your GP or pop into your pharmacy, throw up your arm, and make sure Queenslanders stay safe.

EMERSON:   Well I agree with you, Milton. I think the vaccination hubs at the weekend, the blitz we saw the super Pfizer weekend was a great success and it's good to see our vaccination numbers up there and tipping over that 60% for first jabs here in Queensland. We're still last in Australia but it's good to see those numbers going up.

There was speculation in the media yesterday about the possibility that Queensland wouldn't reopen until we had 90% of Queenslanders double jabbed, now the Premier did come out today and said no, that is not the case and she rubbished those reports. Look, where does Labor stand on this, are they completely locked in to what National Cabinet has been talking about in terms of, you know, having limited lockdowns at the, at when we're 80% double vaccinated?

DICK:   Obviously we've signed up and we've agreed, and Federal Labor wants the lockdowns to end, we want borders to open and we want it to be done as safely as possible. So, there's no difference between the Federal Opposition and the Government here, I guess, as we're seeing the case numbers continue to bubble away in New South Wales and Victoria, when I've been out and about in the community there hasn't been a lot of support for lifting the borders just yet.

You know, I think Queenslanders are very, very conscious of the fact of just how well we've done and how the Government and the Queensland Government has kept them safe, and the Premier has made that her number one task, to protect Queenslanders. But I think we also need to realise that, unless we get our vaccination rates up, unless Queenslanders continue to see those massive results as we saw on the weekend, it is going to be difficult, but I'm confident Scott that, you know, we've really risen to this challenge. And once we get to that 80% result we will see things improve.

But at this stage, you know no one, I think, in Queensland would be arguing with the border restrictions, particularly with the recent outbreaks on the northern coast of New South Wales. I think it's a tragedy for a lot of those families that have really been working hard. I've been in contact with a Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot and I know how hard she's been working in trying to get a ring of steel around her community, but when you see these results pop up it's just heartbreaking and particularly during school holidays as well.

EMERSON:   And just finally Milton Dick, we saw another Newspoll come out today - it'll be a few Newspolls now until the federal election - that there wasn't really much of a change. The gap narrowed slightly, and it's now what 53 to 47 on two party preferred, Labor is ahead. What's your tip for when the federal election will be?

DICK:   Look, I mean everyone is a bit in that election speculation mind at the moment. I've always thought that probably the Prime Minister would want an election sooner rather than later. And all signs show that could be the case. I probably weight it at around a 15% chance before Christmas, that would be my honest assessment.

I think if it's in the Government's interest, and you know the Prime Minister has had a bumpy ride over the last couple of, well, well couple of months really in terms of dealing with Christian Porter, most recently, you know whole range of issues that the Government has bungled and obviously vaccination being the top issue. But I think the Prime Minister will be looking at what happens from his trip overseas, of course which Labor is supporting his work, representing our country. And you know we don't criticize the Government while they're overseas representing our nation as the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister at the moment.

However, I think ultimately he'll do what's in his best interest, which I suspect will be when he gets the polling back to show him. He's in, you know, some difficulty at the moment, but Scott Morrison will be keeping one eye on the polls and if that seems to favour him before Christmas, I reckon he'll go, otherwise it will be probably a long hot summer ahead of all of us.

EMERSON:   All right, thank you for that. That was the Federal Labor Member Oxley Milton Dick.