4BC with Scott Emerson - 7 August 2021


SUBJECTS: Home Quarantine, Scott Morrison’s Travel for Father’s Day, COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout and National Plan

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST:   Every week we are joined by Member for Oxley and former ALP State Secretary in Queensland Milton Dick, how are you Milton?

MILTON DICK, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR OXLEY:  G'day Scott, day five of my home quarantine and talking to you is probably the highlight of that.

EMERSON:   That is a very sad day you are leading indeed Milton Dick.

DICK:  That's home quarantine for you, you know.

EMERSON:   It is indeed. Now, we got a lot of questions last week when you mentioned you're going into home quarantine after leaving Parliament, now we've got a few more questions today about the Prime Minister, but let's first go through the process.

What are the rules, for you and other MPs coming back from Canberra into Queensland, in terms of what do you have to do?

DICK:  So Queensland has designated the ACT, obviously with its outbreak, as a hotspot - and this is similar to what happened last year during the pandemic when the Parliament was still sitting - about when ACT is, I guess, designated a red zone or a hotspot the Chief Health Officer will make a determination about essential workers, flying back into Queensland, and luckily Federal MPs - maybe some of the listeners wouldn't agree - are designated as essential workers, and as such a health directive, has been given for returning members and senators to their home state, and every state is different, of course, but in the Queensland case, a declaration and an application needs to be formed and then approval is granted, and then from arriving into Queensland on Thursday night, we're instructed to go straight to our residences to home quarantine. So that effectively means not leaving your house or leaving the front door. So my backyard's getting a good workout in terms of where I can and can't go. But it's, you know, it's a price that you have to pay, and I'm happy to follow the rules and procedures, just like everyone else. And there was a number of members and senators from both sides who flew back on Thursday and Friday, and will be stuck at home for two weeks.

EMERSON:   Well let's talk about the situation then with the Prime Minister now. What we understand is that after Parliament rose, the Prime Minister over the weekend, did head back to Sydney and then came back to the ACT, on Monday, being given an exemption by the ACT Chief Health Officer there to come back into the ACT now. He said today that the critics of that decision to go back home to see his family then get the exemption to come back to the ACT is a bit of a cheap shot. Let's have a listen to what he's had to say.


EMERSON:   So all right. Bill Shorten came out of the box very early this morning and criticized the decision of Scott Morrison to go back home and get given that exemption to come back in the ACT, what is the difference - and a lot of people have been asking me this today - between your situation and what happened with, with the Prime Minister?

DICK:  Well, the difference is when we returned to our location we have to home quarantine and not leave our residence. It appears that the Prime Minister flew back to Sydney on Friday for Father's Day. Look, no one's going to begrudge him wanting to spend time with his family, I think that is more than reasonable. I'm not one of those people that criticize people wanting to spend time with their family. But I think for the, thousands or tens, or hundreds of thousands of people that can't seem to do what he is doing. It does seem, you know, very difficult for them. Look, it's a tricky one Scott, I'm not gonna, you know, criticize the guy for wanting to spend Father's Day with his kids but I think it is a bit of a misstep, and probably would have been a better look. You know, we keep hearing all the time from politicians including the Prime Minister that we're all in this together, it just doesn't look that way. When he had to fly back to Canberra for work he gets to spend time with his family. You can understand there's a lot of people across Australia who are really, really angry that they can't do the same thing.

EMERSON:   Is one of the differences also that the Prime Minister had to get the exemption to come back into the ACT, because he's coming out of New South Wales which is obviously, you know, got COVID running rampant, that's very different from coming back from Queensland?

DICK:  Well yeah that's right, and say under that those requirements, as anybody else, they have to do their time at home isolating while he gets to come and go. So, look I think it's a misstep by the PM. I mean he's suffering a lot of pressure at the moment because of the optics of what the government, how they're handling things. And if I was advising him, I probably would have said, look, if you need to come back to Canberra probably stay here. If he's returning home at the end of the week to spend time and then he will be working from Sydney. I think that would have been a better look for him in my humble opinion, there's people listening to your show right now who would have loved to spend time with their dads or granddad's and you only need to look at those images, you know, the big orange wall between Sydney- between New South Wales and Queensland, you and your families separated by a plastic barrier, I mean that's heartbreaking. And I think all those people would be like, well, you know why that is, but this other bloke can just come and go as he pleases. I get the anger, I get the frustration because the way out of this is to make sure that we can move around safely and as soon as we get vaccinated, we can do that.

EMERSON:   Well I'm glad you raised that point about vaccination going to be the way out of all this, because I did see also your Federal Labor colleagues like Richard Marles, the deputy, distancing himself from some of the comments from the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. And this is all about the Premier saying look, no commitment at all regarding where we will be if we do get 80% of vaccination rates here in Queensland, double jab rates here in Queensland. Richard Marles said no, we need to have, get to the plan there. Where do you stand on that? Do you stand by Richard Marles, or do you stand with Annastasia Palaszczuk?

DICK:  Well, I stand with the people of Queensland, who are really saying that if we reach that milestone, and you know we all want to see this plan implemented Scott and we've spoken about it, you and on your show before, but we want to make sure it's done effectively, and done as safely as possible. The Premier has raised legitimate concerns about children and what the impacts are once we are vaccinated, and this is a conversation I think happening across the country. But I do think, you know, putting Richard Marles' comments aside, there is a bit of a double standard going on here, everyone has been laying into Annastasia Palaszczuk, who's raising issues, but then you know the Premier of Tasmania turns around and says well we mightn't open until 90%, but that's not the plan. I don't see Federal Ministers and the LNP laying into the Liberal Premier of Tasmania. I think everyone needs to take a bit of a cold shower here and realize that once we get our vaccination rates up- and you saw the stories about how Queenslanders are being short-changed of vaccines in media reports last night, that there's been some secret deals or some deals being done with New South Wales, so we need the whole of Australia vaccinated, not just New South Wales and not just Sydney, we need a comprehensive way of getting out of this pandemic, and the only way to do that is making sure our supply speeds up. I'm really pleased that the data is being released on this now because I think the attacks on the Premier and the Government have been really, really unfair. Like, if they've done something wrong, I'm all, all for having that discussion, but the Premier is standing, really strong on this and I support her 110%. I think the people of Queensland are very, very concerned that if we simply say, righto we've reached a milestone, let the virus in. That is not what the people of Queensland want, they want to open up safely, and they want to go when we have maximum vaccination rates, right across the state.

EMERSON:   I understand where you're coming from on that, however, listen to the language of the Queensland Premier over the last 10 days, particularly when she was asked about the plan going forward at 80% double jabbed here in Queensland. She wouldn't rule out the idea of more lockdowns, and she started going to the area of maybe we need to have the kids vaccinated as well, which is not happening anywhere in the world. She wasn't giving any hope to anyone that going forward we get to 80%, even if we haven't got delta in the community, that we will be opening up because she moves the goalposts. What about the kids as well? That really is heartbreaking, especially for a lot of small businesses out there that are crying out for allowing some of those restrictions to be lifted.

DICK:  I'll tell you what is heartbreaking, if we start going down the New South Wales train of one and a half thousand people being diagnosed with COVID every day, up to 30,000 people in New South Wales-

EMERSON:  Yeah but - I'm talking with Milton Dick - you say they're going down that pathway, they're not, at, at, at 70% or 80% of the moment, we're talking about 80%. So that's a false comparison Milton Dick. We're talking, what will happen in Queensland, when we're 80%. That's what she was asked about and the Premier started talking about, well when the kids get vaccinated, well the kids aren't going to be vaccinated at this stage, because no one is vaccinating under 12.

DICK:  Sure, but that is a genuine question to ask about what happens, the impact for the broader community. And I think if you've talked with Queenslanders, and I've been locked up here but I've been keeping in contact with my office and seeing the correspondence and seeing what's happening on my social media channels, the people of Queeensland are backing her in Scott. They are genuinely asking, what does this mean for our state? The obsession that the LNP have about simply opening the borders, opening and letting COVID into Queensland simply doesn't resonate in the community. We have done so well in this state. And let's be honest, if we'd had access to vaccines, if we'd had the supply, if we'd had multiple vaccine supplies, we would have been vaccinated, potentially the whole state before Delta even arrived. So, you know, the Prime Minister has outlined a plan, we are supportive of that plan, but the Federal Opposition and State Premiers just as they've been doing, including Liberal and Labor Premiers have every right to ask, what does that mean for our state? What does that mean for businesses? The plan also states that there will, there can be short lockdowns. So, this is not just simply, once we reach a point, the whole place is open. I think that is not in the best interest of Queenslanders, and Queenslanders are right to ask the questions to make sure that everyone is on the same page that we open up as safely and as effectively as possible. So I'm all supportive of the federal plan and what the Prime Minister is saying, but I gotta be honest, so far, his commitments during this pandemic, he hasn't met many of his milestones. I just hope that we all work together to get this plan across the line.

EMERSON:   Alright Milton Dick always good to have a chat. We'll catch you again next week.

DICK:  Thanks Scott.