Anika Wells MP on 4BC with Scott Emerson


SUBJECTS: National Integrity Commission, Morrison losing control of the government, New Australian cricket captain.

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: I'm joined now by Labor's member for Lilley Anika Wells and LNP member for Ryan, Julian Simmons for the Drive version of Question Time, Julian, how are you today?
EMERSON: And Anika, how are you?
ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Good, we’re good. Thanks for asking.
EMERSON: Alright, then we'll start with you today, Julian. Now, should there be a federal ICAC established to investigate potential corrupt conduct? Now, we heard Scott Morrison railing about this yesterday in terms of what's happened in New South Wales. Are we going to see a federal ICAC or the federal version of ICAC or some sort of anti-corruption body?
SIMMONDS: Well, of course we are, we just want to make sure that we get it right. You know, the PM used the example of New South Wales. But I could easily use the example in Queensland you know, I've been pretty critical of the Triple C and the way that they've destroyed people's careers and dragged them through the mud just to have zero prosecutions. And so I think what we're trying to do is we're trying to avoid the mistakes of other jurisdictions and make sure that we get it right. So we've been consulting on it very extensively for quite a while. We want to make sure that we can work through all that feedback and consultation and make the right changes and get a good piece of legislation to the House.
EMERSON: Anika quite a while Julian says. It has been quite a while hasn't it? Nothing's happened.
WELLS: It's been 1000 days Scott and I query, I seriously query whether it takes 1000 days to make sure that you consult appropriately, draft well and get it right. The Minister responsible, the Attorney General this morning wouldn't even promise that she'd get it before the parliament this year. So it may be…
SIMMONDS: We have had a pandemic in between.
WELLS: Well, not for the past 1000 days, you haven't.
SIMMONDS: No, but for the past two years.
WELLS:  Everyone’s got an exposure draft on this, everyone. We could we could be debating Helen Haynes’, the Independent. Bridget Archer, the Liberal MP wanted to do that yesterday. And as always, we've been guillotined. I think Labor and Independent MPs have been guillotined from debating this in the House dozens upon dozens of times at this point. It's just an absolute dumpster fire at this point of dishonesty and disunity and desperation. And I would note…
SIMMONDS: Oh, that’s a bit harsh I think.
WELLS: I don’t think it is Julian at this point.
EMERSON: Well, Julian, Julian, I think, well, Julian, the issue is, I guess, just just Julian, but isn't that the issue is that like, this has been talked about for a long time, but it just hasn't happened? I mean, you have to think yourself, looking as an outsider looking at this. Is the Morrison Government genuinely determined to have an anti-corruption body, a federal anti-corruption body, or is it just delaying until we get to the federal election?
SIMMONDS: Well, no, of course we are. Of course we are genuine about it. Of course we want it but we have had a pandemic for two years in between. So I think it's a bit rich of Labor just to gloss over that. But I mean, if Labor's position is that they support our draft bill, then I’m certain we could introduce it on Monday, and we can get it passed with bipartisan support of the chamber. But that's not their position. They don't support our corruption, corruption body bill. So in the absence of that, we need to make sure that we work through stakeholder feedback a bit further.
EMERSON: Anika Wells, you did talk about that situation in Parliament this week where we saw Bridget Archer, the Liberal MP from Tasmania, side with Labor and the crossbench and tried to bring on that that motion to bring on the debate about ICAC. It didn't happen. Is this, from Labor's perspective, how much mileage can you make out of this? Well, obviously a lot of LNP members seeming to be crossing the floor at the moment or at least not backing the government. You know, it does look a bit rowdy out there at the moment.
WELLS: It does and I do want to be sincere when I say we shouldn't conflate what is mileage, like you say about the general sort of absolute chaos the parliament finds itself in with something that is genuinely a question of integrity for most parliamentarians. And I'm sure Julian's the same. I do a mobile office most weeks. And every time I do one, someone comes to say I want a national integrity commission. So I do think we need to be sincere about this being an overdue reform. The reason that there is no bipartisan support for the exposure draft which I note the Prime Minister has not introduced to the Parliament, let alone let it be debated is that it is as weak as water. When you say you want to get it right. I don't think making it too weak to do anything is getting it right. And I also think like you said Scott, five Liberal LNP senators crossed the floor this week to support an anti-vax mandate bill put forth by One Nation. They didn't get called into the Prime Minister. They got, Gerard Rennick got what he wanted. He got compensation reduced, compensation levels reduced, I should say. But Bridget Archer crosses the floor and she gets hauled in by the Prime Minister. She called her conversations frank, and he says to make sure that she felt supported. I don't remember him bringing George Christensen or Gerard Rennick into the Prime Minister's office to make sure that they were feeling supported. Really casts further doubt on the character of the Prime Minister.
EMERSON:  Julian Simmons, what is in the water with the LNP at the moment? Matt Canavan, Gerard Rennick, George Christensen, we even hear about Llew O'Brien possibly also threatening to cross the floor. Why are we seeing these rebel LNP members at the moment?
SIMMONDS: Well, because these are pretty weighty issues that we're dealing with, like, you know, we're dealing with the economic recovery out of COVID. We're dealing with a federal corruption body, we're dealing with vaccine mandates from the state governments, you know, these are not simple issues. So you get 151 representatives in a room, there's going to be a difference, a divergence of opinion isn't there?
WELLS: I think at this point Australians want a government that can walk and chew gum at the same time don’t they?
SIMMONDS: But we're passing plenty, you know, we passed national security legislation this week, we introduced protections for people of faith through the parliament. So we're doing a lot of work. But I don't think that that means that you can't allow MPs to express their own opinions on behalf of their constituents. That's always been the way in our party. It's the way of the Labor Party for the leader to say, this is our position now you must follow me.
WELLS: I was hoping you’d bring that up Julian.
SIMMONDS: It's the way of our party that all MPs we're allowed, that we're allowed to express their own opinions.
WELLS: I was hoping you would bring that up as a modern Liberal yourself, because all week we have heard Liberal MPs talk about this proud tradition of crossing the floor and independent thought and the Liberal Party. And about how that is perfectly right and just for Liberal Senators and Liberal MPs to cross the floor on matters of conscience. So where are all these modern Liberals crossing the floor on the climate emergency? God knows there's been umpteen bills to debate for that this parliament. Why aren’t you crossing the floor on that?
SIMMONDS: Well, because I'm comfortable with it, where the government policies and just because they cross the floor, that's not the way that I choose to take up issues within my within my team, you know, there are other ways to do it, they choose to cross the floor, I choose to do it a different way. But that doesn't mean I don't respect their choices and their ability to make that choice to raise their issues in those ways. You know, we're not a, we're not some kind of dictatorship like the Labor Party Anika, because at the end of the day we’re a group of individuals who represent our community,
EMERSON: But what Julian, why did…why was Bridget Archer brought in into the speak to the Prime Minister? Are you aware of George Christensen or Matt Canavan or Gerard Rennick, also marched into the Prime Minister's office for a stern talking to?
SIMMONDS: Well, I wouldn't agree with that characterisation. But certainly when they raise issues, just like Bridget's raised issues, they get, you know, the PM talks to them about those issues and gets to the bottom of why they're concerned. You know, what else would you do in a team other than to talk these issues out? So I think, regardless of who it is, if an MP has an issue that where they want government to do more or do something differently, well, then they go to the leader of the party, in this case, the Prime Minister and the treasurer, and they express their views.
EMERSON: Now I'm talking to Labor member for Lilley Anika Wells and the LNP member for Ryan Julian Simmonds as part of our Drive’s own version of Question Time. There's just finally today guys. People say that the Australian cricket captain is the second most important job in the country and Pat Cummins has been named the test captain and Steve Smith, the vice-captain today. Pat Cummins, is the what the first fast bowler for what, more than half a century to be captain of Australian test side. First off Julian Simmons a good choice?
SIMMONDS: Well, look, I'm cricket tragic. I have to say, Scott, as you know, I would have quite liked Steve Smith to come back, I would have liked, I like a redemption story. But, you know, I'm thinking of Tim Payne today because we've had stories and you had in your news bulletin about him taking some mental health leave. But you know, as somebody who loves the game of cricket I hope that he knows that while he's made a mistake in his personal life, that I don't excuse, I hope he knows and keeps in mind that people who love the game of cricket credit him with turning the team around after South Africa and rebuilding it after a very tough, tough period. And he's been very good to the game of cricket and done a great job in the time he was captain.
WELLS: Well said Julian. I am not a cricket tragic. So I have been consulting with my cricket policy advisor, my husband Finn, this afternoon. And he reckons that Tim Payne demonstrated leadership by stepping down for the good of the team and I think that's a good point. And he tells me that he'll be the first bowler to captain the series since Ritchie Benault. I love to learn, I thought that was a great fun fact. And I hear he and his fiance Becky just had a baby six weeks ago and I know Julian and I can both sympathise with taking on big roles with newborns. And we wish him and Becky all the best.
SIMMONDS: Even with the newborn, Pat's in hotel quarantine so he's, you know, he's not even bearing the brunt of it. Yeah he's not even having the sleepless nights.
WELLS: Well that’s sub-optimal. Good on them all.
EMERSON: Alright then well Anika Wells and Julian Simmons always a pleasure to have you on. We'll catch you again next week.
SIMMONDS: Thanks team.
WELLS: See you later