Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

18 March 2020

RAY HADLEY: But I've got David Littleproud, the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, and we're in a bit of an emergency at the moment. Minister, good morning to you.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Good morning, Ray. Good to be with you.

RAY HADLEY: Well, first of all, I've said it on air and I'll say it again. I want to applaud the Prime Minister for his words this morning. We took all of it live. And most particularly, I was greatly concerned when rumours were circulating all this week there'd be some sort of lockdown on Thursday or Friday, then it was broadcast across other media outlets. I checked with the PM very early this morning. He said no, it won't be happening. It's not on. It's not on. We don't need people, Minister, to be panicked in such a fashion. And it appears it started on social media with the help of some people in the media and it's now been knocked on the head, as it should have been in the first place.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Totally. Social media will kill this country, Ray. The lack of common sense that's come out of this has bordered on stupidity and we're seeing that even in the supermarkets. What Australians need to take great comfort and pride in is that our Australian farmers produce enough food for 75 million people. We are just 25 million. We are not going to run out of food. The only pressure that is being put on supply chains at the moment is from stupidity. Now, that it means that we are having to get products quicker to supermarkets because people are hoarding all this produce, whether it be a last piece of meat or a couple extra toilet rolls. It's putting pressure on supply chains that we don't need; pressure on lawmakers to try and look after the health of people rather than to try and play into what people should have, which is common sense.

Everyone needs to take a cold shower, relax and understand that we have enough food, that we have the food security that is second to none in this world. We should be thanking Australian farmers for that and you are not going to go without.

RAY HADLEY: Look, Minister, there was one that was - and I'm loathed to report social media postings in light of our conversation...

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Yeah.

RAY HADLEY: … but this was doing the rounds and now I've had it substantiated by a number of people. The Reverend Mel Clark from Woodend in rural Victoria has been on mainstream media in Victoria - and this is happening New South Wales - saying that there are people arriving in their towns with buses attached to the - and these are mini buses - attached to the buses of the sort of trailers we see that cart luggage to the airport and they're cleaning out, in this case, the only Coles in town, leaving the local elderly to miss out on essential goods. Have you heard anything about this factually happening?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, if that's happened, that's the first that I've heard of it. But if it is happening, that is absolute stupidity at its highest. I mean, reality is you are - these country towns take longer to restock. I live in one, a town of about 800 people.

RAY HADLEY: Yep.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Metropolitan supermarkets are getting restocked every 24 hours. In fact, the Queensland Government is changing local laws to allow trucks in even more frequently to be able to do that because of this stupidity. And if you are then going to impinge on people in regional or remote, many people who are farmers who only come into town once a week to get their groceries, that is a selfish act that is unAustralian. Now, people just need to have a good hard look at themselves, calm down and use common sense. We have more food…

RAY HADLEY:  Yeah.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: … than ever to go around in this nation. The big opportunity for us is how do we get some of that excess out overseas, and that's the opportunity that life is there in this whole disaster. But no one is going to go without in this nation.

RAY HADLEY: Well, the problem I have- we're talking about in major cities, as I'm in a major city in Sydney or in Brisbane at the moment, stupidity reigns supreme. People are hoarding, of all things, toilet paper, which I just can't believe. I mean, they've got enough toilet paper to see them through until 2025. But what they're suggesting with these buses, mini buses, with a whole range of people going into these supermarkets in rural towns, they're price gouging. They're throwing it all in the back of the trailer, bringing it back to the big smoke and they may have stores back in the big smoke. I've got no idea. But they’re selling it in some way shape or form either on the internet or elsewhere for significant profit. So they're price gouging by going to these bush towns, robbing the people of the products that they need and then selling it in the big smoke for a lot of money.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, you can do these parasites over by just continuing to shop at bricks and mortar stores, because they are going to continue to be supplied. They are the ones that are going to be supplied, not these parasites that want to put in the black market. Forget about them. You can do them over, break their business model by just continuing to go to those bricks and mortar stores that are there, that are supporting us and are doing the right thing. All the supermarkets, whether big or small, have been mature and sensible about this. They are making sure that there is continuity in supply and these idiots just need their dose of reality.

So I just say to every Australian: if someone tries to sell you something off the back of a truck, forget about them. Tell them to take a running jump because you can go to the supermarket and you're going to be able to get it a lot cheaper.

RAY HADLEY: Well, the Prime Minister described this hoarding - and I've never seen the like of it in a long time in broadcasting, Minister - as unAustralian. That's the best way to describe it. I mean, the behaviour we're seeing, big blokes muscle elderly ladies out of the way to get a roll of toilet paper, it's so demeaning and so undignified, I can't believe I'm actually seeing it.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Nor I. I mean, I'm 43 years old, I grew up in Western Queensland, mate, and I never thought I'd see this sort of rubbish. We're better than this. And for those sort of people to get around and to be so irrational, what has the world become? I lay a lot of the blame at the feet of social media. To dumb this down to the lowest common denominator, it's time for Australians to grow up and actually have some common sense on this, because the vast majority are. It's a minority that's doing this and they need to be called out.

RAY HADLEY: Okay Minister. Thanks for your time. We'll keep in contact as we work our way through all of this. Thanks very much.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Thanks Ray. Thanks for having me.

RAY HADLEY: Thank you. David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture, Drought, Emergency Management federally.