4BC with Scott Emerson - 24 August 2021

SUBJECTS: Potato Milk, Doherty Report, Afghanistan, Ipswich Jets NRL Bid

EMERSON:  I'm always joined this time of the week by the member for Oxley and the former ALP State Secretary here in Queensland, Milton Dick. Now Milton tell me, you'd never drink something with potato milk in it would you?

DICK:  It just sounds wrong. I'm just flat out trying to keep the milk in date that's sort of the last - sort of my battle of the day.

EMERSON:  Now you [unintelligible] that's one of the issues we-

DICK:  When in doubt go for the black coffee.

EMERSONPotato Milk, God I don't know that's just ridiculous.

All right, let's get on to more serious important things, you know, we've got a National Cabinet meeting on Friday, they'll have an updated research from the Doherty Institute, we have seen the Queensland premier Anastasia Palaszczuk, the Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan, both say look, we want to see the revised data, and particularly in terms of this issue about what restrictions will be lifted, if it gets to 70 to 80%. Now, I thought the Prime Minister had a deal on this, clearly that was not the case.

DICK: Well, I think they had discussed this report, obviously I don't know the ins and outs of National Cabinet Scott, none of us do, but I understand - and from questioning Scott Morrison yesterday - that there has been updated advice. Don't forget the Doherty modelling and the report that's been done was done pre New South Wales, and obviously when we asked that question yesterday, is that there was verbal advice. That advice will be going to National Cabinet about what that means and look, everyone wants the economy and the borders to reopen, everyone inside Labor wants that, we've made that point, no one wants to keep anyone in lockdown more than they have to, but we just want to make sure we get this right, because the Doherty Report is a bit of a blueprint or a plan to open up Australia which we're desperately keen for, but it also makes a number of assumptions that our contact tracing and our testing regimes are in place. Now, so far, New South Wales has failed that spectacularly, some states have got it right. Some haven't. And if we don't have the optimal levels that the report says, we could see some serious implications for hospitalizations, ICU and sadly death.

So we're raising these questions Soctt because we want to get this right, and Scott Morrison's track record so far hasn't been one of delivery for Australia in terms of the pandemic and we're desperate to see this economy open and the borders lifted.

EMERSON:  But has Labor locked itself into a particular number? I was talking on the Today programme this morning with Bill Shorten, he said 80 percent was a number he wanted, but he made the point that was that was his view, not Labor's view. He seemed to indicate that Labor didn't have a firm view in terms of what restrictions should be lifted at 70%, or 80%. Is that right?

DICK:  Well we want to see the advice and the information. Now, that hasn't been shared with the opposition, it hasn't been shared with the people of Australia. There's a lot riding on this Scott, you know, we want the economy lifted we want Australia open and back to normal we're seeing, you know, the Prime Minister said yesterday that he wants people out of the cave. Now, he should take responsibility for putting us in the cave in the first place, we're seeing 14 million Australians languishing in lockdown while we look around the world and see so many people, and other countries having the time of their life, and returning to normal. But unless we get this right and he's had a really poor record, whether it be the vaccine rollout, national quarantine, we're ahead of the queue but we're back of the queue.

You know, I don't trust really a lot what the Prime Minister says in terms of what he's delivered. He promised everyone in aged care facilities and disability care would be vaccinated by Easter, they're not. You know, we've got a whole lot riding on this, we just want to make sure that we open safely, and that we don't see the consequences of poor planning and whether this is just a political fix by Scott Morrison rather than actually a real plan to get Australia out of the pandemic.

EMERSON:  Alright then. You haven't seen the updated Doherty Institute reports, research and modelling, that's going to be presented to national cabinet on Friday. So that gets presented, it takes into account what's happening in New South Wales, does that mean, after that point Anthony Albanese comes out and says look, this is where we stand, this is where Federal Labor stands on this. At 70%, we opened up to this. At 80% we open up to that, is that what we can expect from Labor, say next week?

DICK:  Well the critical thing is, and it's already in the report Scott, it's about the contact tracing and also the quarantine - the testing and the tracing. Now, that's got to be at optimal levels. Now that's even with an 80% opening, if that's slipped down to, you know, by 12%, we go back into lockdown. This is not Labor's view or the Coalition's view, this is, is, is what is in the Doherty report. Now, I've gone through that with some detail, but it's about getting the contract tracing, effective and as efficient as possible, and all this was modelled on no delta with New South Wales.

And also, the critical issue here is 12 to 16 year olds, which were not part of that report as well and what that critical factor means as well for vaccination rates in terms of whether that's factored into the 80%. We all want to open up Scott, we all want people out of lockdown and I talked to my colleagues in New South Wales and Victoria, both communities are really, really struggling at the moment, but this is about getting the right plan for Australia, and certainly where we're sitting at the moment we're desperate to see what is exactly in the new update, but the Prime Minister, he won't share it with us - that's fine. But let's hope that the National Cabinet can unanimously agree, put forward a blueprint that we can all work together on to make sure that this is the right fit for Australia, not a political fix for Scott Morrison.

EMERSON:  Now talking to the Member for Oxley, the Federal MP Milton Dick. Let's go to Afghanistan. We are seeing more and more Australians and those who supported Australians in Afghanistan evacuated from the Kabul Airport, where do you think this is going and is Australia doing a good enough job in terms of getting those people out?

DICK:  Well I think it's a little bit too late - too little, too late at the moment. I've been talking to a number of members of the Afghan community in my electorate but also across Australia, been on a couple of zooms now, where I've heard just the heartache and the level of sheer terror that a lot of our people here in Australia, that know the Taliban and know the murderous regime, that is in place.

The efforts are working around the clock at the moment and I salute and commend our ADF personnel on the ground, tough work, but you know we've got to do all we can as an international community and from our point of view to be getting those out of Afghanistan who helped us during our mission. That's our fundamental moral obligation Scott, that we have to do with the nation, and we need to be doing everything we can in relation to that, but we should have been doing a whole lot more a lot earlier. And when we evacuated the embassy back in May, we're able to get a lot of our own people out, but all of those Afghans who threw their lot behind us who I met when I was in Afghanistan and in 2017, the interpreters, the people who risked their lives. This is their moment where they need our help and I really hope that the government continues to do everything they can to look after those people and bring them to Australia as safely as possible.

EMERSON:  Alright, and just finally, Milton Dick. Yesterday I did speak to some of the big teams are the big groups trying to get to be the next team into the NRL one of those was the Ipswich Jets, out towards your way, they'll be the Brisbane Jets I guess if they, they do pull this off, but of the three teams I assume the Jets are the ones you're backing, is that right?

DICK:  100% Scott, you know Ipswich you grew up there, it’s a league town, and it's the home of the Jets, it's really the home to some of I guess, the royalty of Queensland league whether, whether it be Alfie Langer, you know the Walters family. The Jets is a natural fit from where I'm sitting. Ipswich is the growth corridor, you know, you talk to what's happening out in Springfield and that corridor, it's going gangbusters, so having our own team out there would be a massive win for the community, but I think it's the right fit, you put the teams where the growth is, and that's exactly where Ipswich should be and I'm backing the Jets all the way.

EMERSON: Well, looks, from Peter V'landys is saying, it's not necessarily a done deal with a will be an expansion. Does having an expansion dilute the the other teams? So there's always criticism about the fact that at the moment it's a very, you know, one sided competition, you've got a Melbourne, maybe the Roosters, the Rabbitohs at one end and then a lot of other teams at the other end. Queensland teams are struggling, do we really need another team up here?

DICK: Well I think you look at where the growth is, and what's happening with the population explosion. You know, that growth corridor through Ipswich is one of the fastest growing, not only in Queensland, but the whole of Australia, so I reckon it's about time we started rewarding that effort, rewarding where all those families are moving. We've got heaps and heaps of teams popping up all over the place up throughout that Ipswich corridor, it makes a lot of sense but now with the AFL going to Springfield as well it really is the place of sport and excellence. And you know I'm all behind, upgrading the stadium out there as well. I know that the Brisbane, Ipswich City Council and Mayor Theresa Harding, were doing a great job in sort of doing the analysis and some of the hard work that's got to be done, but obviously it's got to go through the natural process but for where I'm sitting, the Jets have put a strong case in, and I certainly hope we can beat the north side, north side of Brisbane.

EMERSON:  But we'll wait and see. I guess the decision will be made. We're expecting after the Grand Final say sometime in October. Milton Dick always good to speak to you.

DICK:  Talk to you next week.