Anika Wells MP on 4BC with Scott Emerson






SUBJECTS: Women’s safety summit

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Politicians, business leaders and women’s advocates have come together to address the biggest issues threatening Australian women at a national women’s safety summit. The two-day conference did start today. Now on top of the agenda is coercive control, domestic violence and financial abuse. Before attention is turning to policing and prevention on the second day of the summit tomorrow. Now the virtual event is being live streamed across the country and will shape the next national plan to end violence against women and children. Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the opening of the summit. This is what he had to say: {Morrison} “Right now, too many Australian women do not feel safe. And too often they are not safe. And that is not ok. There is no excuse and sorry doesn’t cut it. They are not safe at home. They are not safe at work. In broad daylight you are not safe. In public space you are not safe. Here in this place, even this place, where I speak to you from today, are not always safe.” And that was Scott Morrison addressing the conference. Now, during that speech, he read out testimonies from sexual assault survivors. And that has sparked outrage from some quarters. Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who will be involved in a Preventing and Responding Sexual Assault panel on Tuesday, said sharing those stories was inexcusable. She said: “Scott Morrison has just finished his opening keynote address in which he appropriated private disclosures from survivors to leverage his own image. Gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.” So she was very critical of him. And we are joined by Anika Wells, she’s the Labor Member for Lilley. Anika thanks for joining us on the show.

ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Good to be with you Scott.

EMERSON: First off, lets…how important is the women’s summit in the next two days?

WELLS: That’s a trickier question than you’d expect I think because it’s something that has come out of the Brittany Higgins affair that hit Canberra in the early months of this year. It was in response to that. And Grace Tame said it herself. It’s been poorly organised, it’s incredibly secretive, it’s very exclusionary. But nonetheless we have to persist because this sector has been working tirelessly. And the people who work in the sector work for not a lot of cash, you know 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And in solidarity with them we have to persist with the summit and continue to push for structural change. Even if we’re getting the distinct impression even that towards the end of day one, that isn’t what the Prime Minister is actually going to do with these two days.

EMERSON: Well let me talk about that criticism. I mentioned what Grace Tame has said there. And I’ve seen already also comments from Brittany Higgins. You mentioned Brittany Higgins just then.

WELLS: And she wasn’t even invited!

EMERSON: Yeah, well, she wasn’t initially invited at all that’s right. In terms of these, using the testimonies during his speech, that obviously has had criticism from Grace Tame, among others. What’s your view on that? Was it appropriate for him to use them or not?

WELLS: It wasn’t. And if you’re going to have people like…

EMERSON: Why not?

WELLS: Well, because, as far as…he’s never disclosed…Scott Morrison isn’t a survivor. Grace Tame is. People who are blessed not to be survivors in this space should listen to, and defer to, the views and advice of the people who have suffered. And if those women wrote those letters in confidence to the Prime Minister, and they didn’t give express consent for those stories to be used for whatever ends, the Prime Minister sought to gain with his speech this morning, then yes it wasn’t appropriate.

EMERSON: But he’s not identifying these survivors. He’s using their letters of correspondence to him. Saying, as an example, this is the problem we are facing. Because this is a summit about dealing with the problems. What is wrong with him using those as examples of this is the problem we’ve got to deal with?

WELLS: Because they’re not his stories to tell. And because they way that he has set up this national summit is that for the ordinary Australian woman, we can watch the live stream. That’s what I’m doing from my office in Nundah. But there’s no actual way for Australian women to participate unless they have been specifically approved, sanctioned and roped in by the Morrison Government. Who have been so exclusionary, even the catalyst for this Brittany Higgins, wasn’t invited. So it wasn’t acceptable for him to cherry pick what stories he felt were worthy sharing whilst denying actual participation to the millions of Australian women who are watching on.

EMERSON: We’re only into day one of this summit but are you saying from your perspective that you think it’s already been a failure?

WELLS: Well. I have literally dropped out of the {inaudible} [email protected] session to hop on the phone and have a chat with you Scott, and in there the commissioner Kate Jenkins who wrote the report is being pretty explicit about the fact it’s disappointing only 6 out of 55 recommendations were legislated in the House last week.

EMERSON: But what about the summit itself? I’m saying about the summit itself Anika Wells. Towards the end of the first day of the summit. 

WELLS: Yeah.

EMERSON: From what you’ve seen so far, has it been a success or has it been a failure?

WELLS: It has been an opportunity for people to continue to talk about the issue without any progress, additional funding commitment or structural change flagged by the Prime Minister in the opening keynote this morning.

EMERSON: Alright Anika Wells, great to have you on 4BC Drive this afternoon.

WELLS: Thanks so much for tuning in Scott.