Anika Wells MP on 4BC with Scott Emerson

SUBJECTS: France Australia relations, Macron’s comments, Rescue of Cleo Smith 
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Now it’s time for our own version of Question Time here on 4BC Drive every Friday. We’re joined by Labor’s Member for Lilley Anika Wells and the LNP’s Member for Ryan Julian Simmons for Question Time. How are you both?
ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY:  I’m well. How are you both?
EMERSON: We are well here. And great to have you both here on the show. Now first up with you Anika. Australia. How’s it going to repair its relationship with France after…well it’s been a pretty bruising couple of days for Scott Morrison? Emmanuel Macron, on the world stage, to the world media, says Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister, he’s a liar.
WELLS: Yeah as my French teacher would have said: “Oh la la la la la”. Like when I stuffed up my verbs in high school. I don’t know, I think for me, placing responsibility where it should be. If this subs deal was such a dud in the first place it was Scott Morrison, then treasurer, who signed us up to the deal. He got us into this mess. And I don’t think anyone’s disputing why we are getting out of the contract. I think everybody agrees that the AUKUS alliance deal is good and important. It’s more the how. And how monumentally he has stuffed this up. Can you remember a worse tour as Prime Minister internationally in recent history? I can’t.
EMERSON: Look I don’t think anyone accepts there was a great last week for Scott Morrison. But Julian Simmons look the subs, yhe deal when it was done by Malcolm Turnbull, it wasn’t a dud deal then. But as Anika’s just conceded, if you get offered nuke subs as opposed to conventional subs. The US says we’re going to give you the nuke subs. That’s something you’re going to take. But I mean was it handled clumsily as Joe Biden said?
SIMMONDS: Well our strategic interests changed by the time we…between now and when we originally signed up to the contract. And you know, look, I thought it was, I thought it was a good visit overseas. I mean Morrison stuck up for Australia’s interests. He stuck up where our interests.
WELLS: Oh, you’re dreaming! Tell him he’s dreaming
EMERSON: {laughing} I can hear Anika saying ‘they’re dreaming’.
SIMMONDS: He stuck up for our security interests right?
WELLS: Get off the gear.
EMERSON: Julian, Julian, Julian, no one I think is saying there was a good five days there Julian. Surely not? It wasn’t a great five days when you are accused on the world stage of being a liar. That’s not a good outcome for you surely?
SIMMONDS: At the end of the day what have we done? We put Australian national security interest above France’s business interest. I’m sure they are disappointed. I’m sure they do have their nose ouy of joint. But you know save me the confected outrage, I bet if the shoe was on the other foot, there’s no way that Macron would have put Australia’s business interests ahead of his own national security. He’s got an election to win next year. That’s what a lot of this is about I think.
WELLS: That’s what I’m saying Julian. No one’s disputing the decision – a necessary decision, a difficult decision. What people are concerned with is how badly the process has been stuffed up.
SIMMONDS: I think most Australians realise this is confected outrage from the French right? Like it’s based on… they’ve got an election. Macron’s got an election to win early next year. And this is about protecting and standing up for his business interests. And that’s fine. He’s got to do that. But we’ve got to stand up for our national security interests. And you know, if you’re saying Anika that Labor wouldn’t have made the hard decision in the same place because they would have been worried about putting France’s nose out of joint. Well we take the other view. We’ve got to stand up for Australia’s national security interest.
WELLS: If you were listening Julian I said the opposite. I said we don’t dispute the decision. We wish that we had a Prime Minister with a bit more finesse who wouldn’t have botched this up.
SIMMONDS: But you’ve got to have these tough conversations.  You know even the tough conversation is….
WELLS: But he didn’t! That’s the point. He didn’t have the tough conversation. He sent a text message. He didn’t have the tough conversation.
SIMMONDS: Well I think we know there’s far more conversation than text message.

WELLS: And then he leaked text messages from the foreign president to the world to skate through another news day. Is this the Prime Minister that you voted for?
SIMMONDS: But don’t we have to set the record straight on behalf of Australians. Of course we do. We can’t allow a slur on our national sovereignty like that.
WELLS: I don’t think anybody saw it….sorry Scott.
EMERSON: Now Julian Simmonds, Julian Simmonds. Anika hold on for a sec. Julian Simmons, in terms…lets put Scott Morrison aside for a brief moment with his stoush with Emmanuel Macron. What about Malcolm Turnbull the former Prime Minister? I mean alright then look he’s the ex PM. But he goes out himself on the world stage. He’s over in Glasgow and he shouts from the rafters “Scott Morrison’s a liar!”. What do you do about Scott Morrison, Julian Simmons? Should he be kicked out of the Liberal Party?
SIMMONDS: About Malcolm Turnbull? Well look, both sides of politics have their own miserable ghosts I suppose. And you know it just speaks to, I think, I don’t think it speaks to our national interests. It just speaks to his own personal bitterness with the party. And you know and with his colleagues. And that’s a great shame that he put those interests ahead of the national interest.
EMERSON: Should he stay in the party or should he be kicked out?
SIMMONDS:  Well that’s not for me to say. That’s for the division of the party that he….
EMERSON: Well you’re a member of the party? You could have a view?
SIMMONDS: I know Scott but you know how fiercely each state guards their membership list. If he was a member of the Queensland LNP I’d certainly have a view but it’s not for me to say on state. But it is for me to say that I think his behaviour and his commentary is very unbecoming. It’s unbecoming not just of a party member but as a former Prime Minister.
EMERSON: Now Anika Wells obviously the big story this week and the most wonderful story this week has been the rescue of Cleo Smith. Obviously the court case is now underway and a man has been taken into custody. We won’t go into those details obviously because of the legal issues there. But it is just a wonderful story. What was your reaction when you heard the news of Cleo Smith being found?
WELLS: Well I cried. I cried and I yelled out to my husband the news. And then I clutched my 12-month-old twins very close. They don’t understand the context of course, they just thought it was a bit of a smothering hug. But I think after 17 days I felt like many Australians that hope was fading that we would have a good outcome. And I’m just so grateful to all the people that worked so hard to secure it. But I do hope the family gets a bit more privacy now to recover from what is you know, significant trauma for them to work through.
EMERSON: Now Julian Simmonds you, like Anika, you have got young kids. Was that a similar reaction to you?
SIMMONDS: Sure as always. It’s always a good time to hug your kids. But look I was struck by two things. That first of all my first reaction was, if this guy’s guilty and he did it, I hope they lock him up and throw away the key forever quite frankly. But the second one is you know I was so struck by the pile on, on social media that these poor parents have had to had to put up with. Because not only have they been through this horrible experience but a lot of keyboard detectives out there on social media have thought that they deserve some of the blame or had to be involved somehow. And a lot of the commentary has no doubt added to their woes and it’s a good timely message I think for us all to remember be careful what we say on social media. Be careful leaping to conclusions on social media. And know that if you’re writing these comments, you’re not anonymous.That somebody is reading them and it’s probably hurtful to somebody.
EMERSON: I think it’s a very good point there Julian Simmons. Anika Wells I know there are moves to restrict and control what happens on social media. I mean does that give a good example of why we need to have stricter rules in terms of social media given what happened in this case?
WELLS: Yeah, I think you know there are a lot of epidemiologists through Covid on Twitter…
SIMMONDS: There is. Very true.
WELLS: …who became foreign politics experts when the nuclear subs went through. And who are now experts on criminal detection and the law and justice system. And I think someone said the other day said that overall Twitter’s a bit of a net loss for our society. And I would agree with that. I’m really glad that the parliament will be looking at ways to improve social platforms to make them safer, healthier, more inclusive. Sorry I don’t know if you can hear my twins. 
EMERSON: I can hear your kids there. And Anika, that is fine. No worries, that’s fine. You’ve both got young kids and I think it’s wonderful that you’ve both got young kids. I know how hard it must be, being in politics with young kids. And that’s why I think you, both of you guys, you come with a different perspective. If you’re an old crusty politician, I think it’s a different view from having young kids. So Anika no worries at all having your young kids in the background there at all. 
WELLS: I appreciate that.
EMERSON: Alright then now Anika Wells and Julian Simmons great to have you on the show. Will catch you again next week.
SIMMONDS: See you next time.
WELLS: Have a great weekend.