Federal Member For Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications

Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – Power 100, Townsville with Archie and Bretz – Magnetic Island mobile coverage, Artificial Intelligence

Subjects: Magnetic Island mobile coverage, Artificial Intelligence

Henry Bretz: Power100 it is your Power Breakfast with Archie and Bretz. It’s no Archie today, just Bretz. But I’ve got some company in the studio now. Because of course, communication is a big part of what we do here every day on the radio of course, and in town this week there was actually a Shadow Cabinet meeting for our Federal LNP. And joining us right now is the Shadow Communications Minister and the MP for Banks down there in Sydney. It is David Coleman. David, good morning.

David Coleman: Morning Bretz, it’s great to be with you.

Henry Bretz: I suppose you’re up in North Queensland and you have been here for the Shadow Cabinet Meeting that you have already had. Tell us a little about what’s brought you North.

David Coleman: Yeah, well look, Phil Thompson who is the member up here as you know, he was very keen to get the Shadow Cabinet up to Townsville to talk about the issues. And we had a meeting yesterday, all of us got together and also last night met with a whole bunch of people from the local community.

Henry Bretz: Now we’re freezing at the moment because it’s getting down to ghastly temperatures like 18 degrees.

David Coleman: Well, I was a bit shocked actually. Yesterday I was thinking its Townsville so it’s going to be 30 degrees at least and it was probably like 22 or something, so it almost felt like I was in Sydney.

Henry Bretz: So, I know Magnetic Island was on the agenda as well. And a big issue genuinely for a lot of North Queenslanders in the communication space is phone reception. A number of people tell us that they are driving on the Bruce, they’re trying to do business on speaker phone and it drops out. And I know that over Maggie, phone reception was one of the issues you were tackling.

David Coleman: Yeah, absolutely. And if you think back 10 or 20 years ago, mobile reception was not what it is today, which is, today you need it. Because it’s central to day-to-day life. As you said, when you’re trying to do business with people, small businesses trying to process EFTPOS transactions or whatever it is. You need mobile reception and that’s why it’s so important that governments put in place the support for it. Over at Magnetic Island, what I hear is there is pretty significant issues over there. And so we’re going to meet the Residents and Ratepayers Association and they’ve got some ideas on how we can improve coverage there. Bottom line is, what we need to do is get funding from the Federal Government from what’s called the Regional Connectivity Program to get some money to put in effectively more towers, more infrastructure, so that people can have call reception that works. So that’s what we’re working on today.

Henry Bretz: David in the communications space, something that not just the country, but the world is talking about is AI. You couldn’t turn anywhere and not see a ChatGPT story. And now, Apple are bringing out crazy $5,000 goggles. From an Australian communications stand point, where’s the Government and indeed the Opposition standing in the AI space?

David Coleman: I think the first point on AI is it’s a really big deal. And, in technology, there’s often a lot of hype about different things and sometimes that hype comes and goes, and it turned out that maybe the hype was overstated. I don’t think that’s the case on AI. I think AI is a very big deal. I’m a bit older than you and I remember the first time I used the web browser, back in the mid-90s. And my reaction was, ‘wow, this is amazing. This internet thing is going to be huge.’

Henry Bretz: Do you remember what you searched for?

David Coleman: I don’t. I remember it was Netscape. I was at uni and I remember the first time using Netscape and I was thinking, ‘wow this is incredible’. I had a similar experience the first time I used ChatGPT. I thought this is incredible. And it really is, what it can do. And so there’s a lot of upside. There’s a lot of great things that will come of it. But there’s some risks too, in terms of how we make sure that the technology is used for good, so to speak and to help the community. So yeah, it is a really big deal. We’re going out to JCU today actually to see an AI project they’ve got in aquaculture, where they’re using AI to basically select prawns and basically sort of the highest quality prawns so to speak for breeding and other purposes. But they’re using AI to detect patterns in the prawns to pick certain characteristics in the prawns that the human eye can’t do. And so that’s just an example of the sort of things that are happening. And you’ve probably seen things like graphic design now with AI. Where you can go into some of those sites and type ‘draw a picture of 5 wombats sitting around a campfire’ and two seconds later they’ve done it. So, it’s pretty remarkable. Lots of upside, but as a government, you have got to be conscious of those good things, but also think about some of the risks too. The basic principle has to be that, just as we always have in the past, that the government, that society sets the rules and sets the laws, and we make AI work within that but not outside of that. That’s what’s important.

Henry Bretz: We appreciate you showing North Queensland some love and shining a light on the issues that are important to us here. David Coleman, Shadow Communications Minister, enjoy your time in the North.

David Coleman: Thank you very much. Great to be with you.

The Hon. David Coleman MP
Shadow Minister for Communications
Federal Member for Banks