TRANSCRIPT: TODAY SHOW - Building defects and NSW inquiry; children missing school because parents watching Netflix; emojis in classrooms.

13 August 2019


SUBJECT: Building defects and NSW inquiry; children missing school because parents watching Netflix; emojis in classrooms.

GEORGIE GARDNER, TODAY: Welcome back. A resident of Sydney's Mascot towers which was evacuated in June due to serious defects broke down at a government inquiry yesterday as he detailed the heartache and enormous cost he now faces in getting back into his home. It highlights an issue many building owners now face in the event of a building being faulty, and what protections are available if any for consumers.

We are joined by Northern Territory Senator, Malarndirri McCarthy and 6PR's Oliver Peterson in Perth. Good morning and welcome to you both. Ollie, high rise apartment blocks are going up at record speeds across the country. Many people are rushing to buy them, in most cases off the plan in the race to get into the property market, but, of course, we are now seeing the consequences with residents being evacuated and languishing in temporary accommodation and no one wants to take responsibility.

OLIVER PETERSON, 6PR: No, and ultimately it will be the owner or the tenant who has to fork out for this. There is no rights for the consumer here as you correctly identified in the introduction there. And you see this extends to the current cladding issue that we have in all of the states and territories, as well as the wake of the Grenfell fire disaster. Was it the building certifier thats responsible? Was it the local council? Was it the builder? Everybody seems to be pointing the finger at each other, in the meantime the insurance companies are walking as far away from this as quickly as possible hiking premiums on everyone, whether that be the builder, whether that be the home owner, and nobody wants to take any responsibility. I can completely understand how residents are at their wit's end, they just want to go home. They just want to be able to have a safe roof over their head, sleep soundly at night and nobody is taking any responsibility. These particular builders, the government agencies overlooking this, this inquiry needs to hold somebody to account and they need to get to the bottom of this quick smart.

GARDNER: Malarndirri, one resident said yesterday he would have been better off investing in a caravan. He said because if a caravan burnt down at least hed be covered by insurance. We know if you buy a fridge or TV you get a warranty. It seems for the people there is absolutely no recourse and thats because the government as Ollie points out doesn't have the capacity to hold developers to account. What needs to happen here?

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, NT SENATOR: Well, certainly just on that comment Georgie, the fact that people are so desperate now, so frustrated, so upset, this is the worst case scenario, the worst kind of outcome that you can have. You save all that money to be able to build, buy, to live in a place that is your home, and this is awful. But I think what the NSW Parliament is doing with this inquiry is quite important. If you look at the terms of reference of the inquiry, theyre digging into the issues around conflict of interest, how these agreements were made, trying to get to the bottom of the accountability. And I notice that it wasn't the Government that called this inquiry in NSW, its actually other parliamentary members. So I think it's going to be an important one to ensure that there is change, certainly in terms of NSW. But if we look nationally as well Georgie, there is the national construction code which is also critical to all these kinds of developments.

GARNDER: Well it certainly requires immediate action that is for sure, and its an issue playing out right across the country. Lets talk now about an issue which relates to our addiction to screens. And this time it seems parents are in the firing line. It seems some parents are so busy bingeing on Netflix, they are not ensuring that their kids are going to school. Malarndirri, hundreds of parents in NSW alone are being taken to court each year over their child's truancy. If bingeing on Netflix is to blame, we have some serious parenting issues going on here, don't we?

MCCARTHY: Well, totally, if that is the case. But I think it's also a lot deeper than that Georgie, I think it is also about the social issues and opportunity; the impacts; poverty; the lack of opportunity and employment and jobs. These are very much the broader factors. And I think if we just point to Netflix, I mean I like Netflix and I'm sure theres lots of people that do, but this really comes down to the kind of relationships as well that parents have with their children, that parents have with their schools, their communities, their councils and building a community, a sense of community in these places. So I think there is a great deal more to this than just blaming it on Netflix.

GARDNER: Ollie, Malarndirri make's a very good point, because education experts say this is largely to do with parents wanting to be friends with their kids rather than being a parent and exercising discipline. They say its a phenomenon thats escalated in the last five years. We just can't be our kids friends can we?

PETERSON: No we cant but I mean if Netflix is going to be the excuse now we really have run out of excuses. Really some people just shouldn't be parents in the end. As Malarndirri points out there must be a lot more to this but if youre saying sorry I can't take my child to school or my son or daughter is staying home from school because I'm watching Netflix, thats just as bad as the cat ate the homework, or the dog ate the homework. This is the most ridiculous excuse I think Ive ever heard so weve got a real problem if Netflix is now being blamed for the reason parents can't send children to school and or why children aren't attending the classroom; its absolutely ridiculous.

GARDNER: Let's keep the school theme going. Students at a high school in Melbourne are no longer apparently raising their hands or speaking up to in class. Instead theyre sending emojis to their teachers computer screens to express their feelings. The teens can also send emojis to their peers, telling them if theyre feeling accepted or loved or bullied or broken hearted. Ollie, what are your thoughts?

PETERSON: Hate it, Georgie. Were trying to discourage screens from classrooms. Weve got some schools wanting to ban mobile phones all together. I can understand that teachers don't want to disrupt the classroom and ask everybody how they are. But really, this is how were going to gauge the interest in a classroom via emoji? Whats next? Were going to have a whole subject of emoji. You will be sitting the high school certificate and youre going to top the state in emoji lessons. I just think we are going too far with the screens and this is causing so many issues within our schools. Weve just spoken about Netflix, now were talking about emojis. Let's just get back to good old fashioned communication, what were doing right now between the three of us, having a conversation.

GARNDER: Having a face-to-face conversations, Malarndirri, I noticed one of the teachers said this - these emojis give students an inner voice and it gives them the strength to make themselves heard. Which is just ironic because in fact there is no communication going on at all, it's just putting up a - an emoji. No wonder were all confused.

MCCARTHY: Well I don't know Georgie. Im going to disagree with Ollie and Im going to give you my emoji (gestures thumbs up). I think it is a thumbs up this one. Its about kids at school being able to express themselves. If you think about it, you think about the texts you might send to your mates, right. And the quick way do you it sometimes is by sending an emoji. And that sometimes aptly describes how youre feeling. If this is just another level of getting our children across Australia to be able to express themselves, because not everyone is as confident as others to be able to put their hands up and speak or ask questions, and it may just be good as a choice. It's a trial, so hey, see how it goes. Id be interested to hear the feedback from the young people because clearly they are the ones that are really going to matter in terms of whether they do well in their studies and their exams. And hey, if they have a better relationship with their school and education, maybe it's not such a bad thing.

GARDNER: You make a very good point. We will be watching out to see if they give it the thumbs up or thumbs down emoji. I'm giving you both the thumbs up. Thank you for your time this morning. See you soon.