06 July 2021



SUBJECTS: Pinkenba quarantine plan, vaccine rollout, Queensland Premier tweet

 SPENCER HOWSON, HOST: The State Government and the Feds are going to work together to build a 1000-room quarantine facility near the airport at Pinkenba. The Federal Labor member for Lilley Anika Wells has been out and about in Pinkenba yesterday gauging reaction from local residents. Which there are, or were only 368 by the way at the last census. And she’s here now on 4BC Breakfast. Anika Wells, good morning.

ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Good morning Spencer, how are you?

HOWSON: I’m very well thank you. How many people in Pinkenba did your survey yesterday?

WELLS: Well we got around to, that’s the beauty of Pinkenba village, you can get around to everybody in a day. And a lot of people were home and everybody was friendly. They are a very nice community.

HOWSON: And from what they told you, how do the people of Pinkenba feel about this quarantine facility being built in their suburb?

WELLS: Look, mixed views. Which I think is understandable. I would say on the whole, everyone is really reasonable about it. They understand it’s a perfectly logical spot to put it. But I think there are concerns about putting the appropriate safeguards in place. You know they’re a location that’s had a lot of things just dropped on them across the decades. And probably the biggest thing from talking to people was that there was no consultation about this. You know, I’m the local MP, I read about it in the paper. The Prime Minister’s office gave it to the paper before actually even telling the Premier. And they certainly didn’t swing through and talk to locals about it. And I noticed that the Federal Minister for Health was talking about this issue, talking about it this morning at his press conference yesterday arvo. And when they asked him ‘why can’t it be at Toowoomba?’. He said two reasons. One it doesn’t meet our criteria and two I’ve spoken to the local member and the locals don’t want it. So where was that consultation for the people in Brisbane?

HOWSON: I guess there are only a very small number of people in Pinkenba that this impacts though compared to the city of Toowoomba, if that is a genuine concern in Toowoomba.

WELLS: Well I don’t think the facility is as close to residents in Toowoomba as it would be to residents in Pinkenba. And I also don’t think that Pinkenba people should have this forced upon them because there are less of them. I don’t think that’s a good principle for us elected officials to uphold in our democracy.

HOWSON: How will it negatively impact on their lives? They don’t think they’re going to catch COVID just because the quarantine facility’s in their suburb do they?

WELLS: Look honestly, some people do worry about that. And I think that’s a concern that we can work through together if we’ve got a bit more detail about what kind of safeguards will be put in place. Like I said, what kept coming up was ‘why am I hearing about this from you on my doorstep and not from the people trying put it here?’ or ‘why did I read about it in the paper before so much as a letter being dropped in?’. So Pinkenba, like I said, is a pretty tight-knit community. They’ve got a community association, so I am heading along to their next meeting in July and I invite the federal government to send a representative to do the same.

HOWSON: Are you just stirring the pot here though? Just when the State Government and the Feds looked like working together to build this quarantine centre, you decide to pop out to Pinkenba to find some people who are not happy about it.

WELLS: I’m not stirring the pot. I’m making sure that residents’ voices are heard and I was surprised at how much news I was breaking on the front door stoop to locals. I also wouldn’t say that this is unusual activity for me. I was at a mobile office in Stafford Heights yesterday. A lot of people were talking about the kind of issues you’ve been talking about this morning with respect to AstraZeneca. After lunch, I went and spoke to people in Pinkenba. Doorknocking is something I think that local MPs should do regularly. And if you’re finding that a bit rare then I hope that you find MPs do more of it.

HOWSON: You mentioned that we’ve been talking this morning about AstraZeneca. I know that you’re on Twitter. In fact, I’ve got your tweet here from yesterday ‘Out doorknocking Pinkenba this arvy about the proposed quarantine facility at Damascus barracks. The most important thing is that people here in the village feel too often they get dumped with things other residents won’t stand for and their voices should be heard. I hear you’. That was your tweet yesterday so you’re well familiar with the Twitter platform. Should Annastacia Palaszczuk delete that tweet from last Wednesday where she said that in the UK the government is not allowing people under 40 to get AstraZeneca. It’s not true. And it’s been liked and retweeted and continues to be. So it’s spreading misinformation. The Premier said she’s not going to go back and delete it. Now I know you’re federal Labor but she’s on your side of politics. You use Twitter, you understand Twitter. Should she delete that tweet?

WELLS: Well my experience, which you know, I’m new to parliament. The best practice isn’t to delete tweets. It’s to issue a correcting tweet under the thread so that anybody who has interacted with the tweet can see any developments. I’ve experienced people talking about, I guess, analysing deleted tweets as an attempt to hide things. And obviously that wouldn’t be the case here, because it’s not her it’s other people asking her to do it. But I think for transparency, where there are instances where people wish to correct factual errors, which happen on Twitter every day because there is no edit button, it’s best to add to the thread so that everybody interested can see everything that’s transpired.

HOWSON: I agree with you on the edit button and I made that point earlier. That would have solved the whole problem. And those who are on Facebook and not Twitter would be not understanding that you can’t just go back and edit it.

WELLS: No, well we’re getting a bit niche I’m sorry.

HOWSON: No no, that’s fine. And when it comes to politicians and tweets absolutely there’s a school of thought they should stay up because otherwise it can look like you’re hiding from things you’ve said in the past. But in this case it is factually incorrect. And at a time where we need, we need vaccine confidence that’s why people are saying she needs to delete this tweet on this occasion. You don’t agree?

WELLS: Well look Spencer, like I said I did a mobile office yesterday. It was heaving with people. It was probably the busiest one I’ve had so far since being elected. And a lot of people were you know, fresh out of our lockdown last week and were wanting to talk about various elements of our pandemic recovery. Most of which were about the vaccine. There was a lot of vaccine hesitancy. And I must say though, people who were coming to me who were worried about being discriminated against for not taking the vaccine. People who came to me who were health care workers. They have been issued with getting the vaccine by the September deadline. But at the moment in Brisbane you can’t get a Pfizer vaccine before September. And you’d be flat chat getting your AstraZeneca done and dusted before September if you walked in today as well. I must say, I was asking everybody where they were getting their information from. Because vaccine hesitancy, that’s a real worry to me. And nobody was saying that all their information was coming from an individual tweet, from the Premier. So, yeah.

HOWSON: Yeah. Anika Wells, the Federal Member for Lilley, thanks for being on the program this morning.

WELLS: It’s a pleasure Spencer, have a great day.