Anika Wells MP on 4BC with Scott Emerson

SUBJECTS: Queensland border reopening, Coalition net zero plan, Cancel culture Rolling Stones.
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: I’m joined now by Labor’s Member for Lilley Anika Wells and the LNP member for Ryan Julian Simmons for 4BC Drive’s Question Time. How are you both?
ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: {inaudible} Julian. I’m well.
EMERSON: Alright let’s start with you Anika. New South Wales has today announced it will open up to the rest of the world on November the first. But still no date for when Queensland will reopen. When do you think Queensland needs to reopen?
WELLS: Well, in accordance with the national plan. And those phases of the national plan are triggered when average vaccination rates across the nation have reached the threshold. Not just when Sydney has reached 80 percent. And I do a mobile office every week Scott and Queenslanders talk about this every week. And I know that they want our borders open as soon as possible. But they don’t want to sacrifice the freedoms that Queenslanders currently enjoy. So the only way out, and the fastest way out I guess, is by increasing our vaccination rates. And, you know, from this Saturday we can do it at Bunnings Stafford. People from the Queensland Government are really making it as easy as humanly possible after those vaccine supply issues we had that slowed us down at the start.
EMERSON:  Alright. Julian Simmonds, Anika says about keeping to the national plan. But Annastasia Palaszczuk, we talk about what’s going to happen at 80 per cent. That seems to be a moving feast here in Queensland. Because at one point she’s saying no we’re going to have to have 80 per cent across all the States in all areas, not just an average of 80 per cent. That wouldn’t give anyone confidence in terms of when we might reopen.
SIMMONDS: Well and that’s part of the problem isn’t it? If Annastasia Palaszczuk was clear about the fact that she would stick to the national plan and reopen the borders at 80 per cent, I think we’d see more people incentivised to get a vaccine. You know I don’t think that the Queensland Premier can walk away from the fact that the vaccine uptake has started to plateau. We’re one of the last states in the nation to get our vaccinations up to that 70 and 80 per cent mark. And likewise I want to encourage my fellow Queenslanders to get vaccinated. But interesting with the New South Wales example too was the fact that they are trialling those…still having restrictions on regional travel but having Sydney open up. And perhaps if Brisbane given that we’re vaccinated and getting to our 80 per cent a lot quicker than some other regions, that might be something to look at too. So that, we still have 10,000 Queenslanders sitting across the border. People who want to be together for Christmas and Queenslanders just want some certainty particularly if we reach those milestones.
EMERSON: Anika Wells isn’t that a problem still? Because we are heading very soon to Christmas. We still don’t have a plan at all. Wouldn’t it be better for the Palaszczuk Government to say, definitely when we get to 80 per cent this is what’s going to happen? Because at the moment the Premier hasn’t done that nor has the Health Minister.
WELLS:  Well the timing of Queensland reopening our borders is really up to Queenslanders. And your first question to me Scott was about dates. We’re expected here in Queensland to get to 70 per cent somewhere between the 15th and 20th of November. We’re supposed to get to 80 per cent somewhere between the 12th and 17th of December. So there’s still plenty of time for that roadmap to be sketched out with appropriate stakeholders and getting the appropriate feedback in. But Julian makes a good point about the 10,000 Queenslanders stranded over the border. I’d make the counterpoint there are more than 43,000 Australians stranded overseas who were promised by the Prime Minister that they would be home last Christmas. And they’re still not home yet.
SIMMONDS: But you see we’ll have international borders open because Australia as a whole will get to 80 per cent long before Queensland will. And this has been our problem. When you have a Premier and and even a Chief Health Officer who have talked down various vaccines for some time now and focused on having Covid zero rather than having vaccines you see why we’re behind.
EMERSON: Well let’s talk about now. Let’s say well, I think that’s going to be an issue and I don’t think necessarily anyone’s clear and Anika I think when you talk about when we will reach 80 per cent sometime in late December surely will have to have a plan before that. It’s no point saying that on the 17th of December we’ll announce what we’re going to do. But let’s talk about one person who is going to be travelling apparently and that is the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He’s announced today at his press conference that he will be going to Glasgow for the climate summit. Now Julian Simmons, a good move by the Prime Minister?

SIMMONDS: Yeah look I think it is. And it’s a conversation that obviously the whole world is having and Australia wants to be part of it. And you know we have been very keen and methodical over the last couple of years to put together a plan to show how we can reach net zero with technology rather than taxes. You know we were very upfront at the last election. We rejected Labor’s plan to meet net zero because they couldn’t tell Australians how much would cost, how they would secure their jobs and well they certainly told them how much more in new taxes it would be. We want to make sure that we can protect our environment but we can do it in a way that preserves and creates jobs. And we do it through technology not taxation.
EMERSON: Well Anika Wells, I mean the Prime Minister’s going over to Glasgow but we don’t know what he’s going to say over there. Because he’s got a lot of problems within his own party, particularly trying to deal with the Nationals on this.
WELLS: That’s right. And this is Scott, the PM announcing that he’s planning to have a meeting with themselves, the government with themselves, to create a plan after eight years in government. It’s not good enough. And like you said we’re weeks out from Glasgow. Even the Queen’s weighed in today. Even Prince Charles has weighed in to say that it’s not good enough. It’s really quite embarrassing. And the fact that these people still can’t articulate what their plan is, what it would cost, how they’re going to do it. And they are being held ransom to a group of National Party members who apparently are going to make all these decisions on Sunday. That’s not very representative to me.
WELLS: I know I have 110,000 constituents who want all of the elected representatives to make decisions about Australia’s future. Not just you know, five or six, a handful of Nationals.
EMERSON: Julian Simmonds, I hear you trying to get in there. Julian Simmonds, what will the Nationals announce on Sunday because we just don’t know at this stage do we?
SIMMONDS: I was just going to say that you know, first of all, we don’t make decisions for Australia based on what the Queen and Prince Charles think. We make decisions based on what’s best for Australians, and we do it the Australian way. And you know, it’s typical of Labor to talk down the conversation were having with the Nationals as well. It’s the same way they talk down the conversation that we have with regional Australians. And the point is regional Australia do have concerns about how we get there. They do have questions they want answered to the plan about how their jobs are protected and how their industries are protected. And so this is a very important conversation that the Coalition is having across its broad constituency to demonstrate to people that we can achieve net zero through technologies. We could preserve their jobs and we’re very much looking forward to having those conversations and then showing the plan to the whole of Australia as part of the visit the PM’s going to do to Glasgow.
EMERSON: But Julian Simmons what happens if the Nationals reject that plan. You say there’s a technological road map to get to zero emissions by 2050 but if the Nationals in their party room meeting on Sunday say nup, we’re not buying it, we don’t agree with it. What happens then?
SIMMONDS: Oh look, the PM’s been saying for some time that this is not a question of if, it’s a question of how. And that’s really the conversation that we’re having with the Nationals, and through them to their regional constituency. To make sure that we assure them that we’ve done the work, done the due diligence. That we can achieve this. This net zero target through technology not taxation. Then we can help preserve their regional communities and their way of life and we can achieve it in a way that Labor could never articulate at the last election. And that’s why they were punished for it.
WELLS: I think that sounds very nice Julian but this isn’t the PM telling George Christensen what to do. This is the PM being held hostage by George Christensen who doesn’t believe that climate change is real. And just a few months ago when we were last in parliament, the Prime Minister wouldn’t condemn George Christensen for his….
SIMMONDS: But w you talk down these MPs you talk down these constituencies right. They have a constituency they’re representing and they should have the chance to represent them.
WELLS: No. If you’d let me finish Julian. George Christensen is apparently allowed to have his right to free speech. But this is the government that won’t condemn George Christensen, who’s held hostage to George Christensen on anti vax, on climate change. But also voted more than 179 times to censure non-government members in the House of Representatives. It’s only free speech and consultation when it’s the very few people that the Prime Minister needs to keep himself in power.
SIMMONDS: I think you’ll find George Christensen was actually censured by the parliament. I think you were there for the vote weren’t you?
WELLS: I was there for a vote but he wasn’t censured by the PM.
EMERSON: Alright then. This issue is not going to be resolved. I’d love to see it resolved on 4BC Drive. I doubt it will be.
SIMMONDS: Well, we can give it a go Scott. We can give it a go..
EMERSON: We’ll give it a go indeed. Indeed. But alright then we’ll see what does come out of off Sunday. Obviously that will be a very interesting meeting of the National Party room on Sunday. Let’s just finally guys for today’s Question Time. Yesterday we saw that story about The Rolling Stones. They’ve announced they’ll no longer play their hit song Brown Sugar because of concerns raised about the references to slavery in the song there. Anika Wells, first off is this cancel culture, cancel culture gone mad? Or do you agree with this?
WELLS: Scott Emerson, you know they say a Rolling Stone gathers no moss. And we wouldn’t still be talking about The Rolling Stones if they hadn’t evolved and you know, changed over the years. And if Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones have now made the choice that they don’t want to play that song live out of respect for people who are marginalised, that’s their choice. Just the same as it’s your choice to play that record in your home or to stream it on Spotify or if you want to put it on next Scott. I think one thing that, I’m sure Julian would hear this too. People complain to me that politicians are too obstinate, too set in their ways, won’t change their positions when the facts change. Shouldn’t we let everybody have the choice to evolve? And if this is where Mick Jagger feels he wants to evolve, let him.
EMERSON: Keith Richards has said in terms of the song, different from Mick Jagger. He says look I don’t necessarily agree with that. Hopefully we might be able to bring the song back in the future. So that’s not necessarily the case with what Keith Richards is saying. Julian Simmons, Brown Sugar should be played or not?
SIMMONDS: Yeah well I mean you know we’ve all been in and are in politics. There’s always somebody is going to be offended. But that’s the reality at the end of the day. So I think you do have to be careful about this cancel culture stuff. I have to admit mate I’m the wrong vintage for this. I had to look up the lyrics of this particular song. Shock horror. But you know we did have a conversation in my family pretty recently about you know when cancel culture came after Bluey. And you know that’s a fantastic kids show. My kids love it. It’s a Brisbane production. And yet people wanted to read into it all sorts of meanings that weren’t there. And when they didn’t like the meanings that they thought were there, try and cancel it. And I think we’ve got to be really careful about stifling our creative people. Goodness knows I’m not creative and we need people who are. And to read them out of context 60 years later, very very slippery slope I think.
WELLS: Keith versus Mick won’t be a problem the three of us can solve today
EMERSON: Alright Anika Wells and Julian Symons appreciate you joining us for Question Time here on 4BC Drive this afternoon.
SIMMONDS: Thanks very much.
WELLS: Have a good one.