NATALIE BARR: More Aussies are now in favour of the country becoming a republic than ever before. According to a new survey, 39 per cent of eligible voters say they would support us severing ties with the monarchy. Just 31 per cent say they want to stick with the status quo. The outstanding 30 per cent are undecided. It comes as Labor’s Assistant Minister for the Republic suggests that the date of future independence could serve as a new date for Australia Day.
For more, I’m joined by Education Minister Jason Clare and the Deputy Opposition Leader, Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you.
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Good morning.
SUSSAN LEY: Good morning, Nat.
BARR: Jason, so, the Government’s Voice to Parliament referendum is set to cost about $75 million or so – these things are expensive. Would you consider, seeing as we’re discussing it, wrapping it into three questions: the Australia Day date change, the Republic and the Voice while we’re there?
CLARE: The short answer to that is no. We’ve said our top priority is to change the Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, to recognise the fact that Indigenous people were here long before Captain Cook arrived. And that’s the question we want to put to Australians this year. I’d love us to become a Republic. I know Sussan would as well. But it’s not our top priority. I hope it happens in our lifetime, though, Nat. And when it does, I’m sure there’ll be a red hot debate about whether it should be a public holiday.
BARR: We’ve just come off Australia Day, haven’t we, Sussan Ley, and it seems to be divisive, and lots of discussions every Australia Day. So do we sort of end this? Do we wrap three questions into this referendum that Australians are all going to pay for anyway?
LEY: No, we certainly don’t. And I believe the date of Australia Day should stay 26 of January. And yesterday I saw lots of Aussies coming together to celebrate their pride in this extraordinary country. And as I looked at our new citizens in Albury I remembered that same feeling myself when I became a citizen and the sense of living in the luckiest and the best country on earth.
But, quite frankly, I think Australians have got other things to focus on in terms of their concerns because they’re being smashed by rising prices, increasing inflation, costs of living going up. And the plan that we need to see from the Government focusing on that is the one rather than wandering off into these other areas that just aren’t at the heart of what Australians are feeling and concerning – and are concerning them right now.
But look, it was a wonderful Australia Day, and we did see so many people coming together to celebrate our local heroes and our volunteers.
BARR: Yeah, exactly. It was lots of local heroes recognised.
This is a topic that is catching everyone’s attention this morning: Australia’s consumer watchdog is cracking down on social media influencers who fail to disclose sponsored content. This is the world everyone lives in at the moment, isn’t it? The ACCC has started looking into more than 100 social media stars who tipsters say aren’t honest about their affiliation with the brands they are promoting.
Jason, how concerning is it that people are not disclosing who they’re being paid for?
CLARE: I think it’s important that we make the point that these aren’t just random holiday photos on Instagram – these are businesses. People are getting paid. And so the same sort of rules that apply to businesses that are running ads between the breaks here on Sunrise apply to them. And I saw the reference to Kim Kardashian a moment ago where in the US the same sort of thing is an issue. If you’re getting paid, it’s important that customers who could be influenced by you know that you’re getting paid.
BARR: Sussan, it is a big topic, because this is a world that a lot of people inhabit. The penalties could reach up to $2.5 million. Do you think that’s fair?
LEY: And they should. Great work by the ACCC. We all go online, look at reviews, look at TripAdvisor, look at restaurant reviews, and the same should go to everything that you might buy that’s being promoted by an influencer. So if you’re getting a freebie, you need to fess up and you need to say exactly what the relationship is between you, your finances and the product that you’re endorsing. So, yes, terrific and very timely.
BARR: Love the fact that you two are agreeing this morning. It’s amazing. Now, finally, a new artificial intelligence technology called ChatGPT is sparking fears of cheating and plagiarism. Queensland, New South Wales and Tassie have already banned it in public schools.
Jason, as Education Minister you would know all about this. Have you seen it happening, and should there be bans?
CLARE: This can help you learn, but it can also help you cheat. And so there’s the challenge – how do we make sure that people don’t misuse it to get marks they don’t deserve? You rightly point out New South Wales and Queensland have already banned it. Other jurisdictions are looking at it. I met with the tertiary education regulator on Wednesday to look at this because it’s a big issue for universities here and all around the world.
It's important to point out, Microsoft has just bought this technology. So it’s going to be built into everything they do. It’s not going away. But for schools and unis, they’ve got to look at how they adapt to this new reality that this technology is here, and we don’t want people to misuse it so they don’t get the marks they don’t deserve.
BARR: Yeah, Sussan, have you seen this work? Because my teenage son showed me – like a lot of things online – and I want to know how you can ban it, because you put a topic in and it just spits out essay after essay, everything you want. How can you ban it?
LEY: I think it’s rather scary, I agree. And it’s another challenge for our poor teachers. But also it’s a challenge, too, because young people need to know how these tools work. They will be working with artificial intelligence in the future. They’ll be designing and writing software programs, and they’ll be using them for the force of good that they are in so many areas of innovation, including medicine. Whatever you look at, artificial intelligence is coming to the fore.
But, of course, everything that discourages independent thought and inquiry, which is what schools are all about – and let’s get back, as I always say, to literacy and numeracy – but also to making sure that our kids don’t turn to the internet to give them the answers.
BARR: Yeah. And when you see this operating, it’s scary. I notice Perth’s Scotch College headmaster says good teachers will know what their students are capable of spitting out. It’s pretty interesting when you watch this happen in front of you, though.
CLARE: And there is digital technology to catch this as well, but we’ve got to keep catching up.
One quick one?
CLARE: Yesterday, 500 Aussies got an OAM – only one current teacher. I think we can do better than that, and so we’re kicking off a campaign with former Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove today to encourage Aussies to nominate a teacher for an OAM next year.
BARR: That sounds great, because we – boy, I mean, our lives are shaped by them, aren’t they?
CLARE: Big time.
BARR: Yeah, great campaign. Thank you very much both of you. See you next week.