Subjects: Queensland borders, national anthem
CHRIS KENNY: Let’s go to Brisbane now and catch up with the LNP Senator for Queensland, Amanda Stoker. Good to talk to you, Amanda.
AMANDA STOKER: Hi Chris.
CHRIS KENNY: First up, you’re restricted, especially, a lot of businesses, - tourism, of course – is constrained in Queensland by these border closures. Some sort of a plan from Annastacia Palaszczuk to open up? No one really knows what the rules will be, especially for the unvaccinated. Is the Federal Government just losing patience with states like Queensland, doing so much unnecessary economic damage?
AMANDA STOKER: Look, the Federal Government is frustrated with it but more importantly, Queenslanders are frustrated with it; and as we go into the last six weeks before Christmas – what should be the peak of the retail and tourism time of year – none of those businesses have the certainty they need to be able to make business planning decisions, to make staff hiring decisions, and to be able to make the most of what should be their prime time. They are told that the state government has a plan but the reality is they get no clarity on what the arrangements will be for giving them certainty about customers being able to move about, in a way that allows them to shop or to use tourist attractions. There’s no certainty about the border. There’s no certainty about whether or not the state government intends to impose draconian separations, like we’ve seen proposed for some other states, and leaving the businesses in the dark like this is compounding two years’ worth of serious economic damage that has been inflicted, in large part excessively, by the state government.
CHRIS KENNY: It’s a terrible situation because we’re supposed to be able open up these borders at 80 per cent, we’ve got a national 80 per cent vaccination but some states are dragging their heels of course. I’ll just show you what the Prime Minister said today, he was talking about Western Australia’s border controls, but obviously it applies elsewhere. Here’s Scott Morrison.
Yeah, Scott Morrison there. Senator, we’ve seen in New South Wales and Victoria, when you open up at 80 per cent there’s no spike in cases. It’s all manageable. What can Canberra do to force the hand of states like Queensland and Western Australia?
AMANDA STOKER: Well, we can keep telling it like it is, making sure that those state governments that refuse to engage with the evidence that shows there is no greater risk to public health associated with opening up, in circumstances where he hit 80 per cent vaccination levels - those are facts – and so we need to, as political servants of the people, make sure that we hold state governments to account on that front. But importantly, I can see from today’s press that members of the Australian business community are starting to step up too. And it’s good to see the arguments that people like me have been making in recent times, about how the order restrictions that are being put in place in WA, Queensland and historically elsewhere, are no longer proportionate to the nature of the threat that is faced by Australians, and accordingly, they represent an unconstitutional breach of our Constitution, of Section 92. So, it’s really good to see citizens and businesses they run starting to drive some accountability from state governments to complement that which is being pushed from the federal level.
CHRIS KENNY: Should the Federal Government support that legal action in some way?
AMANDA STOKER: Well, these things are most compelling – I think – when they are drawn from the community, simply because that is the way that you show the real ham that’s been done. It’s very difficult as a government to demonstrate the nature of the harm that’s necessary to win that proportionality argument but what we can do, and what we have been doing, is driving that accountability through national cabinet and through public channels to make sure Australians understand that we are holding up our end of the deal that was struck with Australians through the national plan, and every Premier signed up to it. Those who want to change the goal posts after the fact, or play games, political or otherwise, with the livelihoods and freedoms of families and the ability to get on with their lives, should be held harshly accountable.
CHRIS KENNY: This is going to be fascinating to watch because it’s going to play out in the lead up, particularly in Western Australia but also Queensland, in the lead up to a federal election in the first half of next year. Before I let you go, Senator, there’s a grassroots issue that’s come up from the rank-and-file of the LNP people in your own state, to try and start of the school day, in state schools, with the national anthem. Is that too jingoistic for Australia or should we be taking this seriously?
AMANDA STOKER: Look, I think it’s a wonderful thing for Australians to be proud of the country that they live in and this motion speaks, I think, to a greater frustration to the Australian community about how so much of education has been about a negative black armband view of what it means to be Australian. I like the idea that this proposal frames it in a positive instead, because we have so much to be grateful for here. The ups and downs of our history are something for us to engage with and understand, but we have so many reasons to look to the future with optimism and this, I think, is a big part of helping people to connect our sense of national pride with important parts of our history that Minister Tudge is pushing for a bigger place in our curriculum, like ANZAC Day, Australia Day and the other big moments that have helped shape who we are as a country.
CHRIS KENNY: We happen to be living in the greatest time in human history in arguable the greatest country in the world but you don’t get that impression from a lot of people do you?
AMANDA STOKER: That’s right but I think this motion speaks to the fact that there’s a lot of Australians who want to see that proud and upbeat way of looking at the idea of being Australian, resurrected and for that I say, more power to them.
CHRIS KENNY: Spot on. Thanks for joining us Senator.
Valeria Cheglov – 0438 494 351
Patrick Hannaford – 0424 625 518
Authorised by Senator The Hon Amanda Stoker, Liberal National Party, Queensland