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A Week in AAP Images

Photographer's perspective: Mila becomes the story

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with 7 year old Mila Liu during an incoming government briefing at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, July 11, 2016. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

It's not often that AAP photographers and their children make the news. But this week was slightly different for Canberra photographer Lukas Coch. 

Lukas has been covering everything that goes on at Canberra for the past five years. Mostly focused on politics, he had a big job to do during this past and very intense federal election campaign. After nine weeks of hard work he was enjoying a well deserved break just in time for school holidays.

He was at home with his seven-year-old daughter Mila when he got a text message from the Prime Minister's office: "Photo Opp in 20 mins."

Despite being on holidays, Lukas grabbed his gear and went straight to Parliament House - and Mila came with him.

Mr Turnbull had already heard about Mila in other encounters with Lukas so when Mila turned up he very kindly offered her to take a seat on his chair. Mila very politely said "no". To continue the friendly conversation, the Prime Minister then asked if she had met other Prime Ministers before, to which Mila replied "I've met, umm, Tony Abbott!".

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with 7 year old Mila Liu during an incoming government briefing at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, July 11, 2016. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

Mila's innocent response was soon picked up by Australian media, with the reports describing the event as slightly "awkward" for Turnbull. The headlines read:

"When Malcolm Turnbull met little Mila" (The Australian)
"Awkward moment Malcolm Turnbull's first meeting as Prime Minister is hijacked by a junior Tony Abbott fan" (Daily Mail Australia)
"This Little Girl Accidentally Trolled The PM On His First Day Back" (Buzzfeed)
"Malcolm Turnbull's Awkward Reminder On First Day Back At Work" (Huffington Post)
"Schoolgirl makes Malcolm Turnbull squirm on first day back at work" (Channel 9)

There was nothing awkward about this for Mila though. Seeing Prime Ministers at Parliament House is not uncommon for her. Turnbull and Abbott are in fact not the only PMs she has seen in her lifetime. She saw Julia Gillard in the hallways of Parliament House and since she was born has seen or heard of four Prime Ministers - which is probably why this particular situation was picked up by the media.

I don't think it's about Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull, it's about the fact that in her lifetime she has already seen or met four Prime Ministers and what that tells you about Australian politics  - Lukas Coch - Mila's father and AAP Photographer

While there is plenty to reflect on off the back of Mila and Turnbull's encounter, for Lukas it reinforced what every photojournalist already knows: never miss an opportunity, not even while on holidays. You never know when the the big story will come your way.

Follow Lukas Coch on Twitter

See images of the encounter on AAP One, and all of Lukas Coch's images here.

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