4BC Drive with Scott Emerson - 15 March 2022


SUBJECTS: Russian Protestor; Cost of Living; Fuel Excise ;Scott Morrison’s Comments about Anthony Albanese. 
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Every week we are joined by Milton, Milton that story is coming out of Russia there about that protester who was the producer of the TV station held the sign up behind the studio presenter there, saying no war, don't believe the propaganda. Very brave. But unfortunately, we know what happens to a protester in Russia.

MILTON DICK, MEMBER FOR OXLEY: Shocking isn't it, I've seen some of that footage and it's just unbelievable. And I think you saw the person after that even tried to support what Putin was doing and even that person got carted away. So it's really troubling to see this from so far away. And I guess the anti-democracy continues under Putin's Russia.

EMERSON: Look, I don't know where it's going. There's so many millions have had to be evacuated so many thousands dead already, but the war continues in Ukraine.

DICK: Isn't it uplifting to see all those Ukrainians particularly, some of those strong women? I wouldn't mess with some of those older Ukrainian women. Gee, they're brave and you're just - your hearts get lifted when you just see how hard they're fighting and I hope that the international community still continues to reach out to all those people fighting so hard. And you know, our prayers and thoughts are with all of the Ukrainian people that are living, I think, probably under the most horrific conditions that we've seen probably in the last 50 years. 

EMERSON: Yeah, exactly. Right. Exactly. Right. Let's talk about some domestic issues here. Now, Milton, there's been a lot of talk this week about the fuel excise tax. The pressure is mounting on the Government to cut the excise. From Labor's perspective, would you like to see the excise cut?

DICK: Well I think we always like to see, cost of living issues dealt with, I just, I think in the last couple of days, we've seen this explode, Scott, whether that be fuel, cost of energy, cost of goods and services, you know, even a cost of fresh meat. I've been reading reports that people can't afford to buy meat because the prices are through the roof. And I've seen some fruit and veg in my area skyrocket just in the last week or so. I know we've had supply issues coming out of the flood and you know, the fuel issue around Ukraine. But you know, we had these huge issues before these natural disasters in Ukraine. And I do think it's going to be a central point of the election. I've been following this closely because monitoring fuel prices, particularly in that Ipswich corridor, where I've been spending as you know, a lot of the time with the flood recovery. Some people are already telling me they're not using the cars, they can't afford even to put $10 or $15 in because they're not going very far. And I've seen the arguments on both sides, you add that 30 or 40 cent relief, but when petrol prices are hitting around $2.20, $2.30, it’s probably not gonna make a huge difference, but then I've seen them as the Government today also say, we need that money for the roads. Matt Canavan made a point at the RACQ that we've got to invest more in roads. So, I guess we're waiting to see what comes down from Federal Labor. What comes down in the budget. I think the Prime Minister is probably going to do something on listening, reading the tea leaves and particularly what he's been saying over the last day or two. I think this budget is going to have to have cost of living measures in it because the people of Australia will demand it and just more than ever, they're really feeling that pinch. 

EMERSON: Alright, so the budget comes down on March 29. But from Labor, is Anthony Albanese, your leader calling for cut to excise?

DICK: Well, we're not doing that yet, Scott because we want to see what's in the budget. We're obviously not making those decisions the Government is and that they might say what they're doing just yet. So we've got about just on 10 days until the budget. We obviously want to see any cost living relief-

EMERSON: Sure, but look, we're 10 days from a budget. We're two months from an election. Anthony Albanese wants to be the alternative Prime Minister. Why can't you just come out now and say yes, Labor wants a cut to fuel excise 10 cents, 20 cents, or no, we don't support it?

DICK: Well because it doesn't work that way, Scott, we're not the Government. And we're waiting to see what happens with the budget. We could do a whole range of things. But unless we know exactly what Treasury is indicating what the budget is, forecast, you will see our announcements obviously when Anthony Albanese gives his budget reply speech on the Thursday night. I guess the message I'd say to your listeners is, we understand that cost of living pressures are there. We've had 10 years of this Government that have just sat back and allowed - it's just not fuel Scott, its food, everyday prices, the cost of housing and energy in particular. I met a woman this morning that said that she's going to have to stop working because there's no point working because all she's doing is paying the childcare fees. So all of these issues have to be put on the table. That's exactly what Labor's doing and we'll continue to do that before the election. But we'll be, you know, we're talking about the beer excise as well. The Government sort of making all these noises. I just wish they'd come out very clearly to say what they were going to do. We've had members of the Government saying it should be cut, shouldn't be cut, but Labor will be waiting to see exactly what the Government announces and then we'll be making our budget announcements in due course after that.

EMERSON: I'm still confused by this because oppositions come in all the time and in urge Governments to make cuts to certain taxes or spend more on certain areas. Why would this be any different? Why couldn't Labor come out and say I want I want to cut to the tax on draft beer, I want to cut to fuel prices or no, I don't support that? What's stopping you making that announcement now - and I know you keep saying you're not in Government, but that doesn't stop oppositions any other time, making a cause for Governments to do things.

DICK: Well we want to see. Well, the way it works Scott is that Governments make announcements and then we can make our alternative policies on the budget setting, this close to the budget. You know, we are in Opposition. I wish we were in Government and Jim Chalmers has been making that crystal clear. But the Government has been having 10 years of this Scott, we've had fuel prices from the butter fingers Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, going up and up and up well before Ukraine, and we will wait and see. You know, I'm not going to announce Labor's policy on your show today about what exactly is in our budget reply speech. I'll let Anthony Albanese do that on the Thursday. But I make the point that cost-of-living pressures under this Government have exploded. We really have seen, you know, working people without pay rises. Everything's gone up over the last couple of years except wages and we've spoken about this before about lifting economic productivity to make sure people get decent pay and conditions to pay for things for essential items that they desperately need, particularly in flood affected areas where we've seen major impacts on our local businesses as well.

EMERSON: I'm talking to Milton Dick, who's the Federal Member for Oxley. The Newspoll result came out beginning of this week and shows Labor still well ahead. 55/45 didn't really change in terms of the two party preferred vote. But we did see that on the preferred PM vote Anthony Albanese is now level pegging with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Yes, Scott Morrison was on Sky News last night on Paul Murray's program. Let's have a listen to what he said about how Anthony Albanese has changed his look.

MORRISON [RECORDING]: I'm not pretending to be anyone else. We're still wearing the same glasses. Sadly, the same suits. And I weigh about the same. And I don't mind a bit of Italian cake either. So I'm happy in my own skin. I'm not pretending to be anyone else.

EMERSON: Now, look, it's not necessarily unique for people to attack someone else's looks in politics, but it's not particularly common where you hear the Prime Minister attacking necessarily a change in style of the Opposition Leader. What does this say about where Scott Morrison is in the polls that he's made this attack?

DICK: Look, I think that says more about him Scott. I don't really want to focus on what Scott Morrison says - the fact is everyone knows that Anthony Albanese is getting match fit for the election. He's lost 20 kilos. That actually, in my books, means a lot of discipline. This is a guy that really is hungry to become the Prime Minister of Australia, if he’s privileged to do it. He's doing the work and putting the effort in. I guess, pay this for what it is. You know, Scott Morrison he's had more baseball caps and daggy dad, you know cooking curries and the cats, the cats on Instagram all that kind of nonsense that goes with it. 

I'll tell you the difference - last week when the people of Australia needed a leader you saw Anthony Albanese walking the streets with cameras or without cameras for hours and hours at Lismore. And you saw the buffoon of a Prime Minister coming up to Brisbane - didn't come to my area, didn't set foot in flood affected areas - pushed a dust mop around a clean basketball centre at Auchenflower with everyone watching him. Everyone laughing, everyone just waiting for him to do the photo op. I think that says more about the Prime Minister we have at the moment - always after those photo ops and now having a go at Anthony Albanese, I just wish he'd actually do his job and actually tell people what will be in the budget. What are we going to do to for cost living relief? What is his plan for Australia? You know, I'm pretty sick of this guy Scott. And I think last night, him making fun of Anthony Albanese because of the way he looks is pretty crooked and I don't think most Australians will buy it.

EMERSON: You know I wanted to ask you about that Milton Dick, because Anthony Albanese has done that in the past himself. Now he made some outrageous claims about John Howard. Now this is when he was a couple years into Parliament, Anthony Albanese, but he criticized John Howard who'd got new glasses, had gotten his teeth capped and the eyebrows trimmed. He made fairly derogatory comments about the changing looks of John Howard, so Anthony Albanese - he's done exactly the same thing in the past.

DICK: What I don't know what he said about John Howard 20 years ago, Scott all I look as what the Prime Minister clearly has some jealousy or some green monster, kind of worried about the challenge ahead of him. As I said, I don't really care what Scott Morrison says about the Leader of the Opposition. I know that Anthony is the true blue bloke, and I just wish he'd actually focus on the issues rather than playing the man, not the ball. And I think most Australians that we've seen on talkback radio on the morning shows today - don't buy it. And I think most Australians now, we're at a crossroads about where Australia is heading. With natural disasters, with coming out of COVID. They want our leaders focusing on the issues, they want us focusing, as we've discussed today, on bread and butter issues like cost of living and what it means to get relief for working families. And sadly, in my books, they're not seeing it with Scott Morrison.

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

DICK: You can count on it.