ABC Radio Interview 20 March 2023
Anika Wells is the Federal Sport Minister, Minister for Aged Care and the Member for Lilley in Brisbane's north.
Minister Anika Wells
What do you think of the State Government's move to drop plans to establish the formal Olympic coordination authority and instead let the Premier take charge?
Oh, I wouldn't agree with the characterization of that, because it is a decision of all levels of government in conjunction with Andrew Liveris, the president of the OCOG and other bodies that will be dealing very closely with the Olympics.
We support it and our government - I'm down in Canberra speaking to you this morning to Parliament – we’re still working through this process to get to the exact proposed government and governance arrangements.
But I'm confident that the Commonwealth, that I represent will be appropriately represented at all levels of decision making.
The independent though Olympic co-ordination authority it was mentioned in the bid documents are said to be separate from politics, taking it out of the political cycle. Is there a danger that this just becomes completely politicized over the next nine years as we head towards Brisbane 2032?
Any cross jurisdictional governance body between different governments always keeps everybody accountable. You know, not all parties are in government at all three levels, even as we speak.
But I would also point you, Craig, to the Deloitte study, which had a look at all of these and endorsed the particular role that the Premier's taking forward. And they thought that the key difference is to take this one forward to Brisbane, is that because we already have 84% of venues not building any major infrastructure solely for the games and all of these assets ultimately remaining in public ownership, this was the right model and it's been endorsed by a wide variety of stakeholders.
Okay, so you seem satisfied if that's the case and I'm interested because you're on the board of OCOG or have you ever got the official acronym for it now?
They've been saying OCOG. I'm vice president. I say the Brisbane 2032 games. OCOG. The Games. Craig, let me take this directly to the board and come back to you next time with an update on what we’re calling it..
Out of everything that we need, we need the acronym. Yes, or BROCOG has been suggested as well.
Okay, ‘bro’, that's what it gets shortened to.
On the Brisbane Live Rebuild. Well - build, not rebuild Brisbane. Live is going to be a completely new venue. That's what the Federal Government are going to put to the bulk of its $2.5 billion towards.
Have you got a time frame on on when construction on that project is likely to begin at this point?
Oh, look, we're working all that through now. It's obviously a very tricky project, one well worth doing. And given the legacy that we'll leave behind for Brisbane. Ultimately that sits with Catherine King, Infrastructure Minister, I'm always happy to talk to you about the Olympics and Paralympics as the Sports Minister, but that level of detail sits rightly with the infrastructure departments at federal and state level.
And I'll report back to you when I've got an update.
It's a quarter to eight on ABC Radio Brisbane. Anika Wells with us, the Federal Sport Minister, Minister for Aged Care and Member for Lily on aged care. Aged care workers are getting a 15% wage rate rise from July.
Will this be enough to help the sector and attract more workers.
Look, we're confident it will make a substantial difference. It's a historic pay rise for Aged Care workers. It's the highest ever pay rise for the sector in the federation. And it will mean that many workers who are on award wages and aged care will for the very first time be earning more than $30 per hour.
Everybody says workforce is the number one issue. The best thing we can do to lure people back to the sector and bring new people in is to pay them better.
So that's what we're doing.
Some experts say older Australians should be more closely involved in the solution to the aged care crisis. Have you been listening to the concerns of aged care residents?
Yes, I hope so, Loretta. I've visited 26 aged care facilities since I've become the minister, notwithstanding all the ones in Lilley that I visited in the last term.
So I'm up to hundreds of residents, I would think, inside those facilities, let alone the Council of Elders, Council of the Ageing, There's a lot of advisory councils that report to the Minister for Aged Care and I know from them that they and their families want the care standards to lift.
So, I would also say many residents are happy with the level of care that they're getting and feel that the people that work so hard to care for them get a bit of a bad characterisation in the media.
So, I would say we do need to lift the standard of care, but we should also highlight where people are doing a really good job looking after our older Australians now.
You're listening to Anika Wells, the Federal Sport Minister and Minister for Aged Care with you here on ABC Radio Brisbane. Now might not necessarily be in your portfolio, but as a cabinet minister, Anika Wells. We were just chatting with the Queensland Council of Social Service this morning about the the sheer fact that it sounds like Queensland is the epicentre of the nation's housing crisis and the level of social housing that needs to be built over the next decade is truly extraordinary and the private rental market so very tight, you know about it in your local electorate of Lilley. What's the federal government going to do to help families who can't find a place to live right now?
Well, firstly, Craig, thank you for the promotion. I don't actually sit in the cabinet, but I will do my best to answer your question. Look, the best thing we could do is get our $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund through the Senate and into action. We passed it through the House. It is the biggest investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade. And once we get that through, once we get the returns and the housing fund that will deliver our government’s commitment to the 30,000 new social and affordable homes in the fund's first five years.
This is a massive issue. It was absolutely a massive issue at the election. That's why we took such a big policy to the election and why we're doing everything we can to get it legislated now.
What can happen in the short term? Because homes to be built. And that's a long term. We know how tough it is in the construction sector right now.
What's the biggest change that that you can make happen that will improve lives today, tomorrow and the next?
I think the answer to rental stress is a sustained boost to the supply of homes to rent and a substantial investment in affordable homes. So, we have already Craig, since coming to government unlocked up to $575 million in funding from the National Housing Infrastructure Facility.
That is urgent action that we have taken to acknowledge the crisis. But I agree with you, it's not one we’re going to fix overnight and people are doing it really tough out there and we're working with everybody, like the people you've already spoken to this morning to try and sort that out.
Another sitting week in Federal Parliament. Anika Wells on ABC Radio Brisbane. In your role as Federal Sport Minister, I need to ask a very critical question about the Battle of Brisbane. Broncos or Dolphins this Friday night Anika Wells, which team will you be supporting?
Absolutely the Broncos. Three wins, three games. Reece Walsh is a superstar and the Dolphins are on the wrong side of the bridge for me. I wish them every success up to the point that it involves beating the Broncos, in which case I do not. I’ll be backing the Broncos all the way.