Anika Wells on 4BC with Scott Emerson

SUBJECTS: Carols by the Creek, vaccine mandates, PCR testing
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Our take on Question Time is quickly becoming your favourite show, and today of course we are joined by the Labor Member for Lilley, Anika Wells, and the LNP member for Ryan, Julian Simmonds. Anika, how are you today? [STATIC]. Can I hear you? Julian, can I hear you?
JULIAN SIMMONDS, MEMBER FOR RYAN: I can hear you. It might be a one-sided Question Time!
EMERSON: Well, I’m sure Anika will ring back in in a moment, but how are you, Julian?
SIMMONDS: Very well mate, very well. Good to be with you and your listeners.
EMERSON: As I said, this has actually become one of our favourite segments, you two battling it out. Look, obviously you'll be battling it out for the next six months. Are we in the phony campaign already?
SIMMONDS: Well, we're always in an election campaign I think, it never really ends but that's just means staying connected to your community, doesn’t it? You've seen the PM in the last couple of days in particular, express the view that we’ve started living with COVID. Australians have done a fantastic job getting vaccinated, we've reached these milestones, we're reaching them in Queensland, and it's going to be an exciting step forward for us.
EMERSON: I think we've got Anika back on the line, are you there Anika?
EMERSON: I don’t know what happened there.
SIMMONDS: G’day, Anika.
WELLS: I’m pulled over on the side of the road on my way to Carols by the Creek.
EMERSON: Carols by the Creek, well that's exactly what this time…isn't a bit early for Carols by the Creek?
WELLS: Not according to the people of Shorncliffe, Scott! I am serving behind the bar in about 20 minutes!
EMERSON: All right, well I did want to ask you about this, I was gonna leave it to the end, but I mean, how early is it to have Christmas carols and Christmas trees? Anika Wells, have you got the Christmas tree up already in your electorate office?
WELLS: We don't, we don't. We do have a collection box out for the Zillmere Community Centre because they do presents for kids each year so that's up and running. But my office is in Nundah Village, which normally does a big Christmas decoration display, so I go with the coop. When they go up, I go up.
EMERSON: What about you Julian Simmons? You got your new office there in Taringa, I think.
SIMMONDS: Yeah, no, I'm a 1st of December kind of person. I reckon that's about the right time. But like Anika we've got a collection for Salvation Army Christmas food drive that one of our wonderful year fives, Emma McDonald runs every year. So if you come to my office, bring a can of tinned food to leave under the Christmas tree.
EMERSON: And now Anika Wells, I was just talking to Julian Simmons about the phony election campaign. I did see reports today that Labor is setting up a special Queensland strategy group to make sure it can successfully fight here in Queensland. Now why was this necessary?
WELLS: Well, we hold six of thirty seats in Queensland, which I think could be improved upon, between you and me. My seat’s the third most marginal seat in the country. And if you stand at my border and look out north to the bridge to Redcliffe, it's one of the most northern points that Labor holds, so we've got to do better. And I think if you want to take anything away from that report, it should be that we're trying to listen and we're trying to do better.
EMERSON: Well, you say do better than 2019, I did see when there was the post-mortem examination of what went wrong in 2019 for Labor here in Queensland, particularly. Some of the issues raised was the ambiguous language around coal and around the Adani mine. So, who do you blame for that? Was it Bill Shorten’s fault or was it the campaign strategists’ fault?
WELLS: That issue came up a lot for me in my town halls, I think got about five town halls in Lilley during the campaign last time, and I think it's different for every voter. Some people wanted to know what I, as their potential representative, believed on the issue, how I would vote, and some people didn't care what I thought, they only wanted to know what the federal leader said, and then other people had, you know, different views based on the convoy and that kind of thing. So each voter will have a different approach to whom they believe. You're talking about doublespeak. It's one of those things that people say had an impact on the 2019 election, that makes it so incredulous that the Prime Minister is now double speaking on vaccines and vaccine mandates. Have you not learned?
SIMMONDS: Good segway, Anika!
EMERSON: Julian, your response, go for it.
SIMMONDS: Well, no, no. We don’t take anything for granted either, but we certainly don't need a committee or a kumbaya circle to tell us what Queenslanders think, we just go and talk to Queenslanders, and that's what we do each and each and every day. But you know this hysterical response from Labor about the PM’s comments trying to brand new, some kind of anti-vaxxer, like you said he’s spent the last year encouraging everyone to get a vaccine, we’re now one of the most vaccinated nations in the world as a result. The only people who have been talking down the vaccine rollout had been Labor, just so they can get a bit of a sugar hit on the PM. So I think it's just a bit of hysterics from Labor, frankly.
EMERSON: Clearly, clearly, Scott Morrison is not an anti-vaxxer, of course he's one of the first people to get the vaccine in Australia. But Julian Simmons, he yesterday said “look I want to Queenslanders be able to get a cup of coffee in a café, even if they aren't jabbed after we hit the 80% double jab mark here in Queensland.” Look, I don't agree with it, I have to say, because I think that we are clearly seeing a surge in vaccinations here in Queensland because the state government has said, “look after 80% people won't be able to do many things if they haven't been vaccinated.” So isn't Labor's plan here at the state level working? Do you back the Prime Minister or do you back getting a surge in vaccinations?
SIMMONDS: Well no I do back the Prime Minister [CUT OUT] I think the PM’s just expressing the frustration of average Australians, you know, the whole point of the national plan which was brought together by the national government and of course the premiers was 80%, if everyone has had the opportunity to get the jab if they if they want it, if you don't, it's not because you haven't had the chance, it's because you don't want it, and it’s time that we started to get our freedoms back, and Queenslanders in particular just want a timetable about when the state Labor government is going to hand them back their freedoms.
EMERSON: Anika Wells, I want to ask you about the cost of the PCR tests that Queenslanders are going to have to pay for to get across the border, and also those in New South wales coming into Queensland from December 17, or a little bit earlier when we do hit the 80% mark. Yesterday the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, she got up in Parliament and said look, she went to Tokyo she had to have the PCR test and the Opposition said “well you didn’t have to pay for it,” and her answer was “I was working.” That sounded very clumsy to me because I think people are concerned about the fact they've got to pay 150 bucks. They're a family of four they got to be paying $600. Do you think that maybe the state government should go for a rapid antigen testing or somehow subsidise at least the cost of the PCR tests?
WELLS: I’m federal politics, not state politics, so I wasn’t following along in parliament yesterday, I wasn't across…
EMERSON: Well, do you think $150 for a family of four, that's going to be $600. Do you think that seems like a bit of a pretty big whack for them to cross the border?
WELLS: Is it the case that they'll be paying for it, or will workplaces be paying for it like the Premier said that her workplace paid for it?
EMERSON: Well, if they're traveling around for holidays, and they’re going over to the south that's not work, that's going to be private holiday, so they’re still gonna be paying $600 of your family. Do you think that's too much?
WELLS: Like I said, I wasn't watching state parliament yesterday, I was working in federal politics yesterday. But my approach on that, based on what you've told me now would be what it always is when it comes to the pandemic, which is the health advice, and if the health advice is that we need mandates to keep Queenslanders safe, that we need those tests to keep Queensland safe when the border borders open, then so be it.
EMERSON: What about you, Julian Simmonds? $150 for a PCR test? Well, what about rapid antigen testing? Would you be backing rapid antigen testing? Is that good enough?
SIMMONDS: I mean, they're a good tool, but you know, it just shows yet again, disregard from the Premier of Queensland, particularly Queenslanders who’ve been doing a tough, stuck over the other side of the border. And you know, you gave the example of a holiday but most of the stuff isn’t about holidays, they've been visiting family who they’ve been cut off from, or they've had an important reason to get down south and then haven't been able to get back because of the border closures. So much more could have been done to get the 1000s of Queenslanders back home and were stuck on the other side of the border by this Premier, and she's just shown a wilful disregard. When, when the story broke that there was a huge delay in the exemption process, we actually saw a couple of weeks later that the number of staff went down in the Exemption unit. And all along this process, the heartlessness, we can protect people, but we don't have to be heartless about it, and that's the real frustration I’ve had with the Queensland Premier right the way along.
EMERSON: Alright, Anika Wells, enjoy your carols tonight, Julian Simmonds, enjoy the fundraising under the Salvation Army tree in your office as well, and we'll catch you both again next week.
WELLS: If you make it out to Volunteer Marine Rescue, I’ll pour you a beer!
EMERSON: Haha! Thank you for that Anika, see you Julian.