Release type: Transcript


Transcript - Q+A High School Special


The Hon Dr Anne Aly MP
Minister for Early Childhood Education
Minister for Youth

AMELIA MOSELEY, HOST: I want to pay my respects to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation on whose land we are meeting. Tonight we are hearing from a panel of young leaders, advocates and quite likely some of the people who will one day run this country. We’ll ask them: Does AI belong in the classroom? Was it right to cancel the Commonwealth Games? And how old is too old to vote? Joining our panel Biripi Worimi woman and First Nations advocate Amarley Bron. Founder and chief anchor of 6 News Leo Puglisi. Activist, speaker, poet and actor, Aud Mason‑Hyde. Founder of Nuclear for Australia Will Shackel. New South Wales Youth Parliament representative Laura Strawbridge. And Minister for Youth and Early Childhood Education Anne Aly. [Applause]

Welcome to this high school special of Q+A.




MOSELEY: Welcome, everyone. Welcome, welcome. Hey. I’m Amelia Moseley. Some of you may know me as the host of Behind the News but tonight BTN High is teaming up with Q+A to bring you this very special episode tackling the biggest issues affecting young Australians, and the conversation will be driven by our audience, which is made up entirely of high school students. You would have heard them just then. [Applause.] Thanks, everyone, for being here. For those of you streaming us on iview and on socials QandA is the hashtag, so make sure you get involved. To get us started tonight, here is a question from Amy Parcell.

AMY PARCELL: Hi, guys. My question is with the rise of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT and their use in the workplace and school, do you think there’s sufficient legislation and policies to prevent their misuse?

MOSELEY: Yeah, it’s a really good question. I’m going to throw this one to Leo. Get us started, Leo. What do you think about AI?

LEO PUGLISI: Yeah, well, I mean it’s kind of inevitable it’s going to be used in the classroom and you can have legislation, you can have the government say, “We’re going to put in a ban”, but whether it’s going to work or not, I mean it remains to be seen. I hope my teachers aren’t watching, but I can kind of attest to the fact that those bans don’t work, and in terms of legislation, trying to legislate pretty much anything relating to online activity, especially something like AI, I mean, that’s going to be a huge challenge for any government, state or federal. And so, in terms of it being sufficient for those who are actually wanting to stop AI and its misuse in the classroom, it’s probably not there but again that’s probably because it’s just so incredibly hard to try to get that done. Inevitably, I’m sure we’re going to see more governments try to put in action, but it’s just such an issue – such a thing where it’s so hard to get any kind of, you know, proper ban or block on it. So as much as the government can put in things, I just don’t think it’s going to work that much.

MOSELEY: Do you ever use ChatGPT because you create the news every single day on your channel? Do you ever use ChatGPT to write anything, Leo?

PUGLISI: I’ve used it out of pure interest and pure research, which is, I guess, the other thing, because it’s not fully accurate and that’s an incredibly hard thing to do. Obviously, it’s continuing to evolve just like with ChatGPT as you mentioned, but it’s never going to be as fully accurate as maybe a human actually going and researching something can find for themselves.

MOSELEY: Never? Oh, it’s a big call. You never know what the future will hold.

PUGLISI: At this stage at least.

MOSELEY: Well, Laura, I know, Laura, you have actually used ChatGPT quite regularly – 


MOSELEY: To help you with your year 12 school work.

STRAWBRIDGE: Yes, so artificial intelligence is so powerful; we know it’s here to stay. So schools should learn to embrace it rather than try and eliminate it. Within my school community we’ve seen how effective it can be in enhancing our learning. So, for example, I can ask ChatGPT to mark some of my work and imagine that the bot is the teacher so it can give me feedback. It can help me improve on my work.

MOSELEY: Is there an example of something that you’ve used it for recently?

STRAWBRIDGE: Yes so I was practicing for my legal studies trials and I submitted one of my draft essays and I asked it to mark as if it’s a year 12 legal studies teacher and to be super critical so it analysed my essay, gave me a mark. I was pretty happy with it. And just also some feedback as well. So I think it can be really beneficial in the classroom.

MOSELEY: Did you feel like that was ethical or did you feel at all a little bit weird like you were getting some advantage over other students that might not be using that?

STRAWBRIDGE: Well, I think I obviously ChatGPT is available on the internet so anyone can, and a lot of people in my class are actually encouraging each other to use it because it’s this extra tool to further enhance our learning.

MOSELEY: Well, Anne, I have to ask you, because obviously this is also – this question is very much about legislation. Do you think the government has missed the boat a bit with this? You know, should we have been acting on this even sooner than now and how long might it take now for us to be legislating this sort of thing?

MINISTER ANNE ALY: I think in the rapid way that technology evolves, it would be very difficult to create legislation that kind of looks forward and captures everything that’s going to come forward I do want to pick up though on the issue of ethics because I do think that we need to have an ethical framework around the development of technology. You know, we all know that technology can be used for good and it can be used for bad. In terms of its incorporation in the classroom, I think that, you know, the example that you gave, Laura, another example would be teachers can ask students to, you know, use the AI to do an essay and then the student or the class together analyses that and looks at, you know, where does it – where is it human where is it nonhuman? What were the sources of it? But I do think that it’s – right now we have we’re at a situation where technology is so rapidly changing and we don’t have the legislative framework around social media, for example. We don’t have a legislative framework around technology. But we need to go back to the ethical framework. An ethical framework around technology, I think, is where we need to focus our attentions.

MOSELEY: Last time you were on this program, you talked about what you’d used ChatGPT for. I don’t know if you remember this.

ALY: I do. How could I forget?

MOSELEY: How could you forget? You said you had written a – I think it was a love poem to your husband.

ALY: It was a Valentine’s Day message to my ever – so romantic husband because I am so not romantic and it was so – it was a really boring Valentine’s Day message, like, literally you could have picked up a Hallmark card and found something better.

MOSELEY: Have you tried to use it for anything since?

ALY: No, that was it. I like to rely on human creativity.

MOSELEY: Well, speaking of creativity, Aud, I’ve got to ask you a question because you are a very creative person. You’re a poet. You’re an actor. When it comes to artificial intelligence is that something that you are worried about in that space?

AUD MASON‑HYDE: I think it’s a really interesting point because we’re seeing it play out a little bit in the US right now with the writers and actors strike. I think the thing we maybe need to be worried about is again how people with bad interests use it against creatives. We’re seeing it being written into contracts and the idea that you can kind of replicate someone’s image forever from one day of work and they only get paid for that day of work.

MOSELEY: So you’re sort of referring to the Hollywood writers strike.

MASON‑HYDE: Yeah, that’s right, the writers strike and the actors strike in Hollywood right now. And I think what we really need to be focused on is in general kind of trying to uphold those ethics of not, you know – when possible, not allowing it to take over real human jobs that genuinely cannot be done by AI, and also using it for purposes – I think the classroom is a really interesting context for this, but, like, just thinking about how it could be used well. You know, essay structures that are given to students at the start of the year are not something that a teacher needs to put a whole lot of creativity into, necessarily. They’re fairly stock‑standard, and using AI for things like that seems like a very interesting case to take away a workload off of a person, and make their job easier rather than taking their entire job away.

MOSELEY: So everyone seems to be very happy for it to be used by teachers at the least. So, if you’re listening, teachers. All right. Onto the next question. Let’s hear from Sara Banten.

SARA BANTEN: Hi. Many students despite the laws banning schools and - phones in schools, still use a phone for not only games and social media but communication, healthcare services, accessing wi‑fi and education. Do you think students should be taught about this technology and should students be able to use their phones at school?

MOSELEY: I’m going to throw this one over to you, Amarley. What do you think about that?

AMARLEY BRON: Well, from my experiences at school, in the junior school and, like, in the secondary school kids aren’t meant to have their phone on them during the day. So we just keep them in our lockers and everything, which is fine. But once you get into year 11 and 12, you’re allowed to have them around, which is kind of fine because, the only reason why you’d really use it in our classrooms or anything is for educational purposes. So, I haven’t had any issues with that, but I know – 

MOSELEY: And this is just your school particularly that has that rule, yeah.

BRON: But I know from home, from Taree, where I’m from, there’s a rule at one school, I think, where they, like, have their phones – they take their phones at the start of the day and put them in pockets.


BRON: They aren’t, like, they don’t – is that what you were talking about? How they don’t let them – 

MOSELEY: I have seen those. I’m sure some people in our audience have seen them. Yeah, I’ve got some nods. Yeah, so they are actually phone pouches to put your phone in. You lock it up. Do we think that’s a good idea?

BRON: I think it can be beneficial. I mean, it seems quite controlling in a way so that’s kind of the hard part about it, but I think I mean to concentrate and to get the best out of your school and learning experience, I think it could be beneficial. But yeah it seems quite controlling in a way.

MOSELEY: Will, what do you think? I feel like you have an opinion on this.

WILL SHACKEL: Well, yes, I don’t have the benefit of hindsight. I go to a school which has a phone ban and that’s been successfully reinforced and regulated in our school. So I don’t know about how it’s reinforced and how it’s regulated in other schools, but I very strongly believe that phones should be banned in schools and I support the moves that the Queensland Government and the New South Wales Government has taken to do that. And that’s for a few reasons. I think, first of all, when you’re in the classroom, your primary focus should be on your education. I don’t actually think that a phone can enhance your education and your outcomes in school.

Look, I don’t have the benefit of hindsight, so you may disagree. And there’s a few other issues in terms of how it may potentially exacerbate incidents and the effects of cyberbullying. And also I think for me I obviously don’t go to a school which has phones and you’re allowed to use phones, but I think it’s just good having six hours a day each weekday where we are free of the chaos of the outside world, not having to be exposed to it on our phones. And I think that it’s really good to have that moment in school where we can just focus on our education and escape from what is sometimes a really overwhelming world around us. That’s my personal opinion, but yeah.

MOSELEY: Will, as well, we should just say it’s a few more states. So it’s Victoria, WA, SA, Tasmania and the NT have bans for state schools. Anne, what’s your take on this?

ALY: Well, you’re right there; pretty much every state, and not necessarily a ban, but they’re looking at managing mobile phone use in schools. I do recognise that for some students, particularly those with for example continuous glucose monitors, they need to have their phones on them for health purposes. And I think that that’s included in how we manage our mobile use in schools. But, for example, in places where they have, or schools where they have, you know managed the use of mobile phones in schools, what they’ve found and what I’ve heard from them, is that they’ve found that during lunch breaks and breaks – what are they called again? – recess breaks, that young people are actually going out.

MOSELEY: It’s been a while. It’s okay. We understand! [Laughter.]

ALY: I don’t even get a lunch break or a recess break anymore. That, you know, they’re actually interacting with each other, they’re actually you know doing physical sport and they’re learning how to interact with each other again. And I remember talking to some young people, we were talking about, you know, after COVID, one of the things they were saying to me was that the impact of COVID on their mental health, but also the impact of COVID on their social skills, and that going out and actually talking and interacting with people face to face was something that they were finding challenging. So, in this particular instance when they removed the mobile phones during lunch and recess, they found that the young people, the young students, were interacting with each other. So, I think, you know, there are times when you should manage it. Sometimes your states will take, or schools will take a decision to ban it or manage it, but there will always be cases where some people will need to have their phones with them, especially for health reasons.

MOSELEY: Okay. And this brings us to our online poll. We’re asking school students: should mobile phones be banned in all high schools? You can cast your votes anonymously on the Q+A Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts or the ABC News Instagram account. We’ll bring you all the results later. All right. Plenty to get to tonight. I’d like to bring in Alison Yo.

ALISON YO: From Snapchat, to Twitter, to Instagram and TikTok, social media platforms are being misused to the point that they are toxic, especially to the younger generation. Do you think social media is ruining us? And how can we prevent the disruptive aspects of social media in the future?

MOSELEY: It wouldn’t be a room of gen Zs if we didn’t talk about social media, so I’m glad you raise that. Aud, I’m putting this to you because I know you’ve had some difficult experiences.

MASON‑HYDE: Yeah, I think social media is like a lot of our online spaces but also just it is a public space that we all exist in. It’s just one that we haven’t existed in for very long. And it’s also so vast and as a trans person, what I’ve – the issues I’ve had is a lot of hate speech. And it’s a real problem online. A lot of times the suggestion is, “Oh, just don’t look. Don’t go on social media.” And I do – I see that myself as a limitation. Why should I, as say a victim in a certain situation, have to stop the use of something, stop my experience in a public space, whether it’s virtual or in person, because of other people?


MASON-HYDE: And so I think there’s a lot of – I think social media is like just vastly undiscovered and unregulated and there’s a lot of work to be done there. I think there are also models that have really worked. You know, there’s platforms which are doing a really good job of content moderation, a really good job of safety features, or at least going that way. And so I think it’s more of a question of what we decide the line is and whether the government takes a stand on that. And I think that there’s work to be done there. I’m not sure what that is. But, you know, again it’s kind of like the use of phones in schools. I do think that these things are an integral part of how we are all going to function for the foreseeable future. And so I’m not sure that just removing them from our environments for a certain period of time is the right thing to do.


MASON-HYDE: I think teaching the next generation how to use these things safely and also how to respect each other in these spaces is the better thing to do.

MOSELEY: Aud, you have had some pretty bad experiences just recently, if you’re happy to talk about it, you want to tell us. It was just this week.

MASON-HYDE: Yeah, yeah, it was this week, the announcement of this show and my involvement with it and a lot of people are not – deciding they wouldn’t watch the show purely because I was a trans person who’s here on the show.

MOSELEY: Their loss.

MASON-HYDE: That’s right. It’s their loss.


MASON-HYDE: I think I think the notion that like any person because of one aspect of who they are – I mean, it’s a big aspect of who I am, but because of one part of their identity shouldn’t be listened to, in any case, is just abhorrent and wrong.


MOSELEY: So, Leo, you have a whole lot of followers. You are predominantly – you’re online. You’re very popular online. What’s your experience with social media as like a positive sort of thing for you?

PUGLISI: Yeah, I mean, obviously I can’t discount your experience and I mean I’ve also had terrible experiences online with some comments. I try mostly to ignore them or just mock them, but at the same time – 


PUGLISI: At the same time it’s I’m not always going to bag social media because I wouldn’t be where I am with 6 News without social media. You know, social media is an integral part. And again, when it comes down to younger people and their interactions on it and, like, with phone bans or phone not bans, it comes down to teaching. It comes down to education on that. And so in terms of social media positives though, look, as I said, it got me where I am, but at the same time it’s again a tough, you know, line for a government to cross whether they want to get into like with – again, like with ChatGPT, the moderation of something that is just so vast and so hard to moderate and always constantly growing and expanding and evolving, that is something incredibly hard for any government to moderate at all.

SHACKEL: If I may add something, I think, look, Aud, obviously you’ve been through some terrible stuff and we’re all going to be subjected to some terrible and repugnant vile comments after this and I’ve also received those, to be very honest. And I think it’s a shame that when young people advocate for issues they care about, that this is just the inevitable fate of doing that. I think there is a solution, and I do not understand why people are still allowed to be anonymous on social media. There’s a reason why there’s not, like, abuse and personal attacks on sites like LinkedIn. It’s because people’s professional reputations – 


SHACKEL: I know it’s a joke but people’s professional reputations, they’ll lose their job if they make a comment if they attack someone like that. And I think that there needs to be consequences for those people. Clearly, moderation isn’t working at the moment. I’ve had terrible things. I’ve been called all sorts of names. I get them reported and nothing’s done about it. I know there’s organisations like eSafety, but I think a serious step we should consider is removing people’s ability to hide behind, you know, a random username or a random profile picture, because they need to be accountable for what they say and the attacks that they make against us.


MOSELEY: Anne, I have to ask you obviously after that like is that something that you think that the government should be considering looking into more than they have in the past?

ALY: Mm. Well, first of all, I want to say to Aud, I think you’ve got the right attitude for the haters. I myself have copped a lot of racism online and I do want to acknowledge right now with the debate on the Voice happening that it has gotten absolutely unbearable on a lot of – I’ve had to put out a statement on my social media feed about the racism that’s coming through. The fact that people think that they can say things online and have no consequences, you’re absolutely right that they do have consequences. I went to court in February over somebody who sent me a death threat online because he hated my religious faith and didn’t like who I was, so there are consequences and there are pathways that you can take if it gets to that dangerous point as well.

MOSELEY: But what is the government doing?

ALY: So we have at the moment there’s a draft bill out around – and it’s primarily around misinformation and disinformation. It is, though, very difficult to regulate this because it is in the hands, primarily, of the social media companies. And whilst they do have policies where they take down things, there also is a kind of futility to the whack‑a‑mole kind of model where you take something down and 10 will grow in its place. It’s like when you pluck a grey hair, which none of you will have to worry about now but you will one day!


ALY: You know, you take something down and 10 will grow in its place. Can I give you a solution though that I think works because I used to do this before I became a member of Parliament? I had a not‑for‑profit that was youth-oriented and one of the things that I did was we developed young people, like the young people here like all of you, to become content creators and to fight hatred and to fight online bullying and to fight it all yourselves.


ALY: Yeah, so you all have agency and you all have power to change it by becoming content creators yourself, just as like many of you have done, and getting out there and refuting the misinformation and the disinformation that comes out there. Put out a counter‑narrative. Don’t let hate win.

[Cheering and applause.]

ALY: You all can do that.

MOSELEY: We could all talk about this forever, I’m sure and I just want to say thank you so much – 

MASON HYDE: Can I just say one thing? I apologise.

MOSELEY: Of course, please.

MASON HYDE: I think that’s a really interesting point and I know it’s a really tricky field and I also think in an ideal world, for people who are generally going to be the targets of hate speech, bullying, vilification online, people who are marginalised groups included in vilification and anti‑discrimination acts, ideally there would be support on a governmental level, maybe a regulation for social media companies. I don’t know how it looks but I do think that in an ideal world, the burden of that is not on the individuals using the platforms or the individuals copping that abuse.

ALY: No, I agree with you on that and there are stuff around abhorrent content. There are laws around abhorrent content, abhorrent material that we do – we have set up the eSafety Commissioner. But, ultimately, who polices this is the social media companies.

MOSELEY: Okay. We do need to move on. We do need to move on. Okay. If this discussion is raising any difficulties for you or anyone you know, please make sure you talk to someone about it and don’t forget you can always reach out to Lifeline, QLife or the Kids Helpline. It’s really important to speak to somebody. All right. Now, I’d like to bring in Fadzai Bako. Fadzai, you have a question on HECS debts, but can you also tell us a little bit about yourself, because there’s a backstory here.

FADZAI BAKO: Yes, so my name is Fadzai Bako. My dad is from South Sudan and my mum is from Zimbabwe. And this question came about with a conversation with my mum and we were talking about her HECS debt. And my mum is in her late 30s now and she’s still paying off her HECS debt from her 20s. So then this opportunity arose and I decided to ask about HECS debt for people of colour in Australia, because you know a lot of immigrant parents say, you know, I’m gonna move here so my kid can have a better life and then the kid grows up and they go to uni and then they’re followed by the shadow of HECS for the rest of their lives, and they’re still paying off, you know, something that’s supposed to help them, you know, uni or higher education. So my question is how do we make sure that people of colour are not followed by this shadow for the rest of their lives, because I know I want to go to uni and it’ll be the worst thing ever to see I can’t pursue my dreams or someone else can’t pursue their dreams because I don’t have enough money.

MOSELEY: Thank you, Fadzai. Anne, I’m putting this one to you.

ALY: Yeah, I was in my late 30s when I finally paid off my HECS debt too, so I feel what your mum is feeling as well. Look, I think HECS debt or HECS which we now call HELP was introduced to actually increase the number of people who had the capacity to go to university by introducing a way in which they could repay their fees post‑graduation. We’re currently doing a review of the Universities. It’s called the University Accord. They delivered their interim report today, and, in fact, the Minister for Education, Minister Jason Clare, gave a Press Club speech about it. If you’re all interested, you can have a look at that and that includes a review of HELP – of HECS or HELP. But there is also a focus in there on looking at the cohorts that don’t traditionally or haven’t been – have been locked out of university, particularly and first and foremost First Nations young people who have the lowest university graduation rates, but also other vulnerable cohorts as well. And I know that the minister is absolutely dedicated to ensuring that everyone in Australia has the opportunity to go to university and extending that to – and I identify as a person of colour as well – to people of colour, to our First Nations and to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds as well. So that review will be delivered I think in another six months’ time, but the interim report has a lot to say about HELP debt, about university and making university more accessible to everyone.

MOSELEY: Please.

BAKO: Do you think it’s the universities’ fault for not making you know their courses accessible to everyone?

ALY: Oh, look, that’s a good question and it’s a complex question because I don’t think it’s we can lay blame at any particular thing. The fact is that in this country if you do come from a poorer background or from a marginalised group, you are less likely to go to university. And if you’re a First Nations young man, you’re more likely to end up in jail than at university, and I think that’s a great shame on this country. And so I would be loath to kind of lay the blame at just one group or one person. I do think there is structural reform and change that’s needed and I’m very optimistic that we’re going to be able to achieve that.


MOSELEY: Amarley, you are a First Nations woman. You come from Taree, mid‑north New South Wales Coast, pretty nice spot. So what are your experiences because you’ve obviously had to, you know, you’re going to consider, I suppose, moving away and you already live in Sydney.

BRON: Yeah, I board. I go to boarding school in Sydney.

MOSELEY: Yes, so what are your what are your thoughts when it comes to university?

BRON: Well, I’m on a scholarship at my school so I wouldn’t be able to go to my school if I wasn’t on that scholarship, and I started in year 9. So I’ve talked a lot about it and I really want to go to university because, you know, it just gives you better opportunities and more just, like, you have the ability to make more decisions and have more options in life. So, that’s a goal for me. I’d really love to go to university. And I think they are making it a lot better with having more First Nations scholarships because I’ve had a lot of discussions about it and with applying, you know, to those scholarships. There’s a lot going on to try and help with the disparities, I guess, in allowing all groups and marginalised groups to be able to go to university. So, for me, there are things that are being put in place, but, yeah, it’s still really difficult.

MOSELEY: Yeah. Do you think it’s enough, what’s being done is enough in your opinion?

BRON: It’s hard to say because if I was at home, if I was still living where I was, probably wouldn’t have graduated high school. So, you know, it’s a big step for me to be in Sydney. But I can’t imagine having the motivation from where I was living to attend university because it just would have been too hard and too much. What’s, like, not – it would have been too hard on my family I think that I wouldn’t want to put anyone through that. So I think, yeah, having the scholarship options has really made it possible. Yeah, it’s still a lot to happen and still a lot more to come, I think, to improve overall.

MOSELEY: Laura, you have a take on this as well I think?

STRAWBRIDGE: Yeah, so it was very interesting looking at the HECS situation because university used to be free in Australia and that did change, and it’s also very interesting hearing the Prime Minister’s take because he did go to university for free. So, when it comes to university, I think we have to balance between personal responsibility and then the amount of reliance that we have on the government. And I think having some sort of HECS debt act as sort of like an inspiration to get students to complete their work and gets them motivated to complete their degree.

MOSELEY: Do you think it makes sense for university debt to be potentially higher if it, you know, eases the debt elsewhere in the budget?

STRAWBRIDGE: Well, we obviously know the budget’s very tight. Essentially I know there’s calls from some parties to make university free. I’m not sure if there’s funding in that, but again I personally don’t believe university should be free because I think we should have individual responsibility when it comes to education.

MOSELEY: Okay. If you’re just joining us, I’m Amelia Moseley and you are watching a Q+A high school special live with Amarley Bron, Leo Puglisi, Aud Mason‑Hyde, Will Shackel, Laura Strawbridge and Anne Aly. Now let’s hear from Joette Collier.

JOETTE COLLIER: How do you think the Voice to Parliament will affect upcoming Aboriginal youth and their communities?

MOSELEY: Okay. I’m going to throw this one to you, Amarley. As a First Nations woman, what do you think?

BRON: Okay. So the Voice and everything it’s a big debate at the moment, obviously. I think the effect on youth, I know that there’s lots of kind of negative effects coming off the end of it with people having different perspectives and people wanting different things, which is really hard. And it’s tough because that’s just the society that we live in, I suppose. And people hate and you know do all that sort of thing. But for me and for my family we – just having something that represents us and recognises us, I think, in the Constitution would be very beneficial overall in the end. But yeah, it could definitely have a negative effect on people and it could put, like, a little bit of pressure to feel a certain way I think. But, yeah I don’t know.

MOSELEY: Do you worry about the campaigning around it? Is that something that you are thinking about when it comes to campaigning and will things get a bit nasty? You know, we touched on some of that earlier.

BRON: Well, I mean, social media can be really awful and, yeah, there can be lots of negative aspects of it because you believe certain things, and that’s really tough because it’s, you know, I think an important part about just being, like, a good person is respecting other people’s opinions for what they are and for what they believe in. So, yeah, it’s quite sad that we have such bad backlash because of what you believe in.

MOSELEY: And so, Joette, you have a little bit to say about your take on this as well.


MOSELEY: Yeah, please.

COLLIER: As a proud Aboriginal woman from New South Wales as well, I have done heaps of research about the Voice to Parliament and I think that it’s going to be – there’s more negativity gonna that is going to come out of it than positive. So if I could vote, I would, vote no.

MOSELEY: Okay. Yeah. All right. Well, I might just ask also, Laura, you did ask a question earlier this year about the cost when it comes to the referendum for the Voice. So what’s your view?

STRAWBRIDGE: So I think that the government is offering this tokenistic solution to make it appear like they’re helping Indigenous Australians. There’s over 2,000 Indigenous advisory committees across the country and they’re all pointing to several issues such as economic participation, education and health care. And I fear that if this Voice passes, the Voice is going to say we need to solve these issues. So I believe that we should be addressing these issues straight up rather than creating another advisory body and linking back to my question on Q+A a few months ago, it obviously got a bit ratty and I didn’t really get my question answered, but holding the referendum is estimated to cost around half a billion dollars. And it might not even pass. It might not be effective. It might just be tokenistic. So I believe that we should be investing those money into Indigenous communities through education and health care because that is almost guaranteed to make change and the Voice does not guarantee that.

BRON: Can I just jump in?

MOSELEY: Of course you can, yeah.

BRON: I completely agree in the sense that there needs to be more action rather than more advocation and more advisory committees that’s going on but another thing that I just get a little bit worried about is that if this doesn’t pass, then what will be next? Like what is next for us? Because there are ‑


BRON: - Yeah, like I completely agree in the sense that action does need to be taken but if the Voice doesn’t pass, then I don’t really know what’s next, and we’re just you know going on and living life and there’s going to be those inequities going on without anything going on that, but at least we can recognise it.

MASON‑HYDE: And if I can jump in just quickly, I think it’s a really interesting question because there’s a lot of differing opinions on this and a lot of nuance in those opinions. It’s actually not as simple as this vote means this and this means the other thing. But the fact of the matter is that when it comes time to vote there is a “yes” box and a “no” box and I, having read some of the work of people who are signatories on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, I think you know it’s not perfect the question that’s being pitched. And also I think that it is, that group of people who came together at various constitutional conferences. It is them extending their hands to us as the public and, you know, as a queer person who lived through the plebiscite, the gay marriage plebiscite, which is a very different beast, but it was a an incredibly challenging time to be a young queer person in Australia I know that that that is, you know, having an effect on Indigenous folk, young and old, who I know. It’s a divisive time, unfortunately. It shouldn’t be but it is. And I think that it’s really easy to fall into misinformation. And also having constitutional recognition is actually a huge step. You know, like putting this in the Constitution – 


MASON‑HYDE: – is – you know, we’ve seen Indigenous bodies, who are advisory councils in Federal Parliament before and because of the way that our political system functions they can be taken out, they can be manipulated. Having it as a constitutional reform enshrined in the Constitution is one way to make it effective. Yeah.

MOSELEY: Yeah. We do need to move on. But, Laura, yep.

STRAWBRIDGE: I just don’t believe that the government is serious about Indigenous recognition in the Constitution. I think having something not exact but similar to the 1999 referendum, there was a second question, which was a preamble, that recognised Indigenous Australians. And I think Tony Abbott put it perfectly a couple months ago where he said, “Having a preamble in the Constitution which recognises Indigenous Australians, Australians that were born here and Australia’s brilliant migrant story”, I believe having a referendum for a preamble would have as much support as the 1967 referendum. And it would be almost guaranteed to pass. And as we’ve seen in the polls just this week, the yes vote is approximately 41 per cent. So I feel like the government recognising Indigenous Australians that way would almost guarantee recognition in the Constitution.

MOSELEY: I’m not sure everyone agrees with you. I can see Aud shaking their head. But, look, we do have to move on. So I’ll just ask really quickly, Anne, when’s the date of the referendum going to be? Come on, an exclusive.

ALY: We don’t have a date set yet, but it’ll be in October. And just to clarify, this is not a government thing. The Uluru Statement from the Heart has been a decade and a half in the making and this is from the First Nations people of our nation.

MOSELEY: Did you just say October, though? It’ll be October.


ALY: Seriously, I don’t know the date. I really don’t know the date, but we have said between October and December. Later this year.

MOSELEY: Hmm. Stay tuned. All right. Plenty to get to tonight. Here’s Samuel van Holstein.

SAMUEL VAN HOLSTEIN: Hi. Should Australia introduce an age cut‑off for voting considering that elderly voters will not get to see the long‑term consequences of their actions? And furthermore, should there be an age cap for politicians?

MOSELEY: Anne’s face!


ALY: You! Where do you get these audiences from?

MOSELEY: I’m gonna put this one to Leo. What do you think, Leo? So an age cut‑off for voting. We’re talking older you get, should you be cut off at some point?

PUGLISI: Look, I mean, I don’t – number one, I don’t think that would happen. Number two, I just think given the amount of, you know, varied views and I get the broader consensus is that at this stage older people are more conservative, but I guess given the broader – you know, the amount of broad views and also the fact that while there might be some people who, you know, aren’t very politically engaged they could be really – I’m sure there are politically engaged, very politically engaged people 80, 85, 90 and older. So to cut it off I just don’t think, you know, would be fair on them. And then in regards to an age cap for politicians, I mean, I don’t know if that’d have much effect, because at least in this country politicians do seem to retire more than, say, the US where there’s like current representatives in their Congress who are in their 90s right now. But at the same time, you know, there’s not many politicians who – you know, I can’t see never retiring except maybe Bob Katter.

MOSELEY: Will, did you have thoughts?

SHACKEL: Yeah, I’m not sure about – you know, I might be open to having an age limit on politicians here in Australia because I think we can see what’s going on in the US. We need a bit of young blood in the mix. But in regards to restricting the voting of like everyday citizens of elderly people, what I would say is: I think that elderly people, government plays a vital role in their lives whether it’s health care, end of life, government welfare. All of those services are crucial to those individuals and they should have a say in what whatever government is in power and the policies that, ultimately, will affect them quite profoundly and will affect their health care, will affect their livelihood and affect, quite honestly, their last years on this Earth. I think it’s incredibly important that we preserve and we make sure that they retain the right to vote.


MOSELEY: Let’s flip it a little bit, though. What about , then, 16 year olds who are going out to work many of which I’m sure in this room 16, 17‑year‑olds, do we think then by that same argument that they should be able to vote?


MOSELEY: Aud, yes?

MASON-HYDE: Yes, absolutely.

[Cheering and applause.]

MASON-HYDE: I think in terms of democracy as a concept voting rights, it should be a question of how many people can we feasibly add to that right rather than how many people can we – who are we taking it away from? I think if we have more of the population voting, that’s a better thing. You know, as someone who was campaigning as a school striker around elections and about policy from the time I was 14, I’ve done two election cycles without being able to vote and have been very educated on the topics and the politicians to an extent that a lot of adults weren’t. But I don’t think that means they shouldn’t get to vote. I think we’ve seen the issues and the horrific drawbacks that happen when we take away anyone’s voting rights or try to restrict them in any way. It’s not the right thing to do. If anything, I think we should move the voting age lower absolutely.

MOSELEY: Can I have a vote in the audience? Put your hand up if you do think that we should lower the voting age in Australia to, say, 16. Do you want to also vote in the referendum, like, if you could? Yes? That’s a lot of people here. Anne, you have had this question put to you before and I know that you sort of hosed it down, basically. That you weren’t – that you didn’t think actually that many 16, 17‑year‑olds were interested in this. Is this changing your mind a little?

ALY: Not really no to be honest and I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why because I do think we need to change the conversation a little bit. This idea that voting is the kind of the marker of democratic and political participation, I think what we’ve got here is a panel that demonstrates you can be politically active, you can make change, you can have more impact than somebody who has absolutely no interest in politics and goes to the ballot box every three or four years and maybe even donkey votes. I think we’ve got to separate between the kind of formal citizenship of the right to vote and active participation and active political participation.


ALY: Thank you. And as the Minister for Youth, I want to ensure that I encourage – not be the voice for young people because God knows I’m not young!


ALY: But I want to ensure that young people feel that they can have political participation, feel that they can have a voice, feel that they can make a change. Look at the change the young people made when they took to the streets for climate action. It was a huge change and many of them weren’t voting young people. So I don’t think that voting is a marker of the ability to change politics or change policy or be politically active. You have so many other ways to do that and young people are absolutely amazing at being able to do that. And that’s what I want to encourage.


MOSELEY: All right. Let’s move on. Next, we’ll hear from Brendan Davies. Brendan.

BRENDAN DAVIES: Recently the CSIRO released a report concluding that nuclear energy does not currently provide an economically competitive solution in Australia. In the light of this and the continual falling of renewable prices, why should we now invest in nuclear power plants that could take decades to build?

SHACKEL: Well, thank you for your question.

MOSELEY: Will knew this question – 

SHACKEL: [Indistinct] to be honest, but – and thank you for your question what I would first say about the GenCost report is, you know, I’m not in a position to question it but those are eight-year-old numbers, to be very honest with you, and we can’t fully understand the cost of nuclear energy until we legalise it. Because until we get the business plans in, until we get proposals, there’s no way of knowing the true costs. Now, this clean energy transition is not as easy as I think a lot of politicians are making it out to be. There is huge, huge risks involved. And it’s my firm belief that we need to have all options on the table in order to address it, and indeed that includes nuclear energy. Nuclear energy, unlike fossil fuels, is clean. It’s the cleanest – it has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any energy source. And it’s safe. It’s the second‑safest form of power generation. And compared to renewables not only is it incredibly reliable but it’s also, and I think the most important thing, is it’s a proven technology. No nation around the world, no major nation, has been able to completely power itself from renewables. And I don’t think we should have to take that risk.

And you look at the alternative with nuclear energy, there are 32 countries around the world which have successfully used nuclear energy, such as France and the UAE, and they have shown evidence that nuclear energy lowers power bills, lowers emissions and increases nation’s energy security. And I think that’s important. Now in regard to the risk question, what I would ask, and I think this is a question for the government is: What is the backup? What is the redundancy? And what is the plan B if this renewable‑centric approach fails? As there’s many credible experts who are saying, like Adi Paterson and all of these other individuals, besides from dangerous and dirty fossil fuels like gas, which we know according to the government’s own reports like the Net Zero Australia report will be used for decades to come? I think that’s a quite serious question and one that I think the government needs to answer.

MOSELEY: Now is your opportunity.


SHACKEL: Thanks.

ALY: No, I do applaud the passion with which you speak on this, Will, and the knowledge that you bring to this to this topic as well, and I do recognise that. We banned – nuclear was banned in Australia, just as a way of background in the 1990s, amid concerns about safety. I think those concerns persist. I think that there are still concerns about safety and particularly around storage of nuclear. I also think that – and we’ve done the – looking at this, that renewables are cheaper. We need something that we’re going to be able to transition to fairly quickly. Nuclear will take a much longer time and will be more expensive in order to do that. Australia is best positioned to take advantage of renewable energy, but we also have some really great minds in Australia working on renewable energy and working on storage of renewable energy, because I know you’re going to say the sun don’t always shine, and you’re right. The sun don’t always shine, especially not in Melbourne!


ALY: But, you know, we do have some of the best Minds in the world in Australia working on renewables and working on storage as well.

SHACKEL: What I would just argue is even the government’s own AEMO, the Electricity Market Operator, is predicting that there’s going to be shortfalls and dispatchable energy and that means the lights go out. I think we need to have all options on the table and, you know, in regards to waste and safety, like I said, nuclear is the safe second‑safest form of energy generation. A lot of that is overblown I think. And in regards to spent fuel, we safely manage it. We’ve got ANSTO at Lucas Heights. It’s 30 kilometres from the Sydney CBD and I went recently and they store the waste there. You can stand next to it. There’s no impact. You’re not exposed to any excess radiation. In fact, you’re exposed to less than actually being in the city. It’s incredibly well managed and I think we’ve got the expertise in Australia. There’s over 400 – 

MOSELEY: Will, we’ve got to move on a little bit from this.


MOSELEY: I can see Aud getting antsy over there. Jump in, please.

MASON-HYDE: Look, I am not staunchly decided either way about nuclear, I have to say.

MOSELEY: You were a School Strike – 

MASON-HYDE: I was a School Strike for Climate activist.

MOSELEY: Yes let’s talk about that too.

MASON-HYDE: Yeah and I now work for AYCC Australian Youth Climate Coalition, so I do a lot of that kind of grassroots protest organising side of the climate movement. My issue with nuclear energy at this point in time is that it is not transitioning us away from the model that we’ve had for so long with energy, which is extractive. To create nuclear energy, you have to mine. We have not seen it successfully done here.

SHACKEL: Sorry, Aud – 

MASON-HYDE: Also we’ve seen many, many Indigenous land groups oppose it. And until those concerns are resolved in a good way, in a way where I don’t think companies like the likes of Rio Tinto can come in and take that, you know, lifting of the ban and use it to destroy more sacred sites and extract more from the land in a way that isn’t renewable, I’m not comfortable with it, the lifting of the ban.


SHACKEL: I get that. Very quickly respond to that I think it’s actually in many cases worse for renewables, and we need to be frank about that. Mining with regards to solar panels, there’s 14 times more mining needed for solar panels. The companies like Rio Tinto, like BP, whatever, they’re the ones benefiting from this transition. Renewables does not mean it’s clean. I’m not against renewables. I think renewables are good and we should have more renewables and I think nuclear complements them. But even in regards to land, there’s hundreds of times more land needed for renewable developments in regards to nuclear reactors. And that has an impact. That has an impact on Indigenous communities. That has an impact on farms. And there’s been a huge push against that. And also to our biological – sorry, our flora and fauna in Australia. So I don’t think that’s an issue unique to nuclear, to be very honest, and I think nuclear would actually improve those sort of issues.

MOSELEY: Laura, you have campaigned for the Liberals. What’s your take on this, then?

STRAWBRIDGE: I think there’s growing support for nuclear amongst young people and Will’s Nuclear for Australia organisation demonstrates that perfectly. I think you’re near 10,000 signatures now.

SHACKEL: Correct.

STRAWBRIDGE: And there’s also been – both the Liberals and the Nationals are starting to advocate for the conversation regarding nuclear energy with both parties really pushing it, pushing for it within their conversations. Because there’s obviously an energy crisis and, as Will said, we need to investigate, all means available.

MASON-HYDE: Look, I have huge problems with nuclear. My problems are not the safety. You know, I’ve looked at all your stats there. They’re pretty good. My problem is actually generally with the way that we use energy here, the way that it’s completely unregulated and we have energy companies have a huge stake in our democratic process, arguably more than a lot of people do. That’s my main issue. Also, I mean, we’ve seen the court decision for the nuclear storage in the Kimba in the last week. I just think if Indigenous land rights groups and elders and traditional owners of the land are opposed to it, I’m opposed to it. It’s their land.

MOSELEY: I can see you nodding too, Amarley.


BRON: I’m behind it.

MOSELEY: How do you feel?

BRON: Well, I mean if, you know, if mob and family don’t want people like digging around knocking up the land, don’t do it. So that’s all I’ve got.

MOSELEY: All right. We had better move on. So now I’d like to bring in Bec Brown.

BEC BROWN: Hi, I’m Beck, currently completing year 12 and I play competitive sport, both netball and volleyball. With the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, what do you think it will look like for young athletes of the region, like myself, who aspire to play in these bigger sporting competitions?

MOSELEY: All right. I’m going to put this to Leo as the Victorian here. Tell me what you think.

PUGLISI: Representing on the panel.

MOSELEY: Represent.

PUGLISI: Yeah. Look, it’s obviously going to be tough and especially knowing just how sudden this cancellation was. I mean so many groups didn’t know about it, did they? They found out as the press conference was you know – had a 9.30 the other day from Dan Andrews. It is going to be tough for young athletes and I guess, you know, there’s so many levels of competition, but especially for those who might be even the most successful who are trying to get into something even like the Olympics and they are looking for something, you know, on home soil. Especially for someone like a rural athlete maybe in the areas that were supposed to host all these events like Shepparton, like Geelong, Ballarat, it’s going to be tough for them. They’re not going to have that. And even those who are too young, like, you know, primary school age kids who want to see, professional athletes and young and up‑and‑coming athletes, you know, near them and able to watch them, you know, they’re not going to be able to see that if they’re in those rural areas and were really hoping for it. It’s obviously a huge debate regarding what’s happened and again you know extremely sudden. But it, you know, probably doesn’t just help – it probably doesn’t help those young athletes at all.

MOSELEY: Laura, you’re a monarchist, I believe, so how do you think this might impact our relationship with the rest of the Commonwealth?

STRAWBRIDGE: Well, I think the sudden cancellation is quite embarrassing for not only Dan Andrews, but Australia, because we’ve promised this Olympics, and now it’s cancelled and, obviously, that’s going to impact particularly the regions of Victoria. I’m from New South Wales, but, from my understanding, a lot of the events were going to be held in regional Victoria and with that comes new sporting facilities and tourism. So I do feel bad. In terms of – sorry, the monarchy?

MOSELEY: Yeah, the monarchy.

STRAWBRIDGE: Okay, well – 

MOSELEY: Should we be part of the Commonwealth in the first place then, you know?

STRAWBRIDGE: I think when it comes to the monarchy, we shouldn’t fix something that’s not broken. I think that the way that Australia’s Governor and Governor Generals work is effective as it is and I believe having an apolitical head figure is really effective in doing the job, which is like signing the bills and more. So it’s representing Australia internationally. And I think the job that the Governor General does right now is quite effective.

MOSELEY: Anne, first the Ashes, now this. Is this an issue? Is it a bad look for Australia?

ALY: I’m just sitting here going, “If she’s quiet nobody will ask her about sport”! Sorry, Bec, were you planning on – are you like in at that level of competition?

BROWN: Not so much but I do have a lot of role models especially in the netball area that I was really looking forward to watching, especially since, you know, netball and volleyball are really big parts of my life. So, I think personally, like what Leo said, actually seeing those professional athletes play in the home state that I’m in would have been so amazing. And not only like playing and it would have been amazing, but definitely watching them on. It’s a big inspiration.

ALY: Yeah, okay. Thank you.

MOSELEY: Does anybody think that the money is well spent elsewhere? Does anybody have that opinion?

SHACKEL: Look, if it truly costs $7 billion and I think that’s being contested at the moment, I think there probably are larger priorities to be honest. That’s not to say - I think there’s huge benefits that come out of the Commonwealth Games and indeed all other events. Even – I’m from Brisbane. We’ve got the Brisbane 2032 Olympics coming up.

MOSELEY: I mean, that’s going to cost a lot.

SHACKEL: And I think there probably should be some savings on some things, but it’s great that the government the state and Federal Government are supporting that. And I think the true importance of these events, not only for the athletes, but it’s also the legacy and what they’re able to create for those host locations. And you could just imagine how the Commonwealth Games would have impacted regional Victoria and all the opportunities that would have been created out of it. I think it’s a real shame that it’s been lost and, hopefully, we can find a compromise and a solution can be found so that the 2026 Commonwealth Games can be hosted and those athletes can, ultimately, show off their abilities to the world.

MASON-HYDE: I hate to take up more time and I will be as quick as I can and I risk a slightly terrible comparison here but I do – it is a large sum of money and if we also are questioning the cost of putting on the referendum, which is close to half a billion dollars, and then we’re talking about something which maybe is up to $6 billion – I mean, I’m not contesting the fact that there are athletes who were going to be part of this and that’s you know it’s something to be reckoned with and, hopefully, there is something that that can be figured out. I do find that the Commonwealth Games are tokenistic. They’re a way of pandering to the idea that we are kind of a united Commonwealth, we’re all fair and equal when it’s just not the case practically.


MASON-HYDE: It can go elsewhere.

MOSELEY: All right. Now we can bring you the result of our online poll. We asked you school students: Should mobile phones be banned in all higher schools? Almost 1,500 of you responded. Here’s how you voted 61 per cent of you say yes 32 per cent say no and 7 per cent unsure. It is possible adults got involved in that. And to finish tonight’s discussion we have a question from Philip Habib.

PHILIP HABIB: Hi. So for all the youth panel members what’s your best advice for youth around Australia looking to make a political impact?

MOSELEY: Okay. Look, we’ve got to be pretty quick with this one but I’m going to put it to Laura. What’s your advice?

STRAWBRIDGE: I’d say just get involved. If you have a certain political leaning, join a party. There’s a lot of networks there. Create an organisation. We’ve obviously got Will and Leo here who’ve created respective organisations and that would make a huge impact.

MOSELEY: Let’s hear from everyone. Amarley, what do you think?

BRON: Speak on what you’re passionate about. I think just like give everything a crack and you know what you believe to be true put it out there. Let it – like make it known and just do what you can to get involved to help what you want to happen.

PUGLISI: I mean, yeah, absolutely, if you want to start up something if you want to start up an organisation, if you want to get involved, I mean, why isn’t it possible? You can absolutely go ahead and do that and it’s really important especially if you know 16, 17‑year‑olds and under, we’re not able to vote that’s one step you can take.


MASON-HYDE: I think it’s really important to know that like no‑one is apolitical, like, no human being, because it plays an integral role in all of our lives, politics. And it’s not something that just happens in Canberra or in your, you know, state Parliament. I think get involved in any way you can join an organisation, join a party, join a grassroots organisation. Start a social media account if you want. There’s so many ways to get involved, and, you know, it’s about your life like that’s why it’s important.

MOSELEY: And Will?

SHACKEL: I’ll give you three words and it’s “have a go”. That’s what I would say to any young person. Just have a go. And I think as we’ve all been able to demonstrate and a lot of young people have been able to as well that it’s paid off.

MOSELEY: Lovely. Anne, you’re already a politician. We’ve heard enough from you!


ALY: What they said!

MOSELEY: No, thank you so much. That’s all we have time for. A big thank you to our panel, Amarley Bron, Leo Puglisi, Aud Mason‑Hyde, Will Shackel, Laura Strawbridge and Anne Aly.


MOSELEY: Thank you, all, for sharing your stories and questions. On Monday, Patricia Karvelas will be back with you live from Melbourne. On the panel, UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey; filmmaker, Rachel Perkins; and independent member for Curtin, Kate Chaney. Head to the Q+A website to register to be in the audience. Thank you so much, everyone. Good night.