Interview with Matt Shirvington, Sunrise

MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: Now, a new national messaging system will be rolled out to improve the way we respond to natural disasters and major emergencies. It will issue instant alerts to all mobile devices in an area of concern, regardless of which service provider you're with. But we'll have to get through a few more seasons of wild weather before it's in place, with the system not set to be introduced until the end of next year.


Joining me now is Communications Minister Michelle Rowland. Good morning to you, Minister. Take us through how these new warnings will work compared to the current systems in place?


MICHELLE ROWLAND, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: The key priority of the Albanese Government is to keep Australians safe. We all know that in times of emergencies, including natural disasters, the best quality communications can be the difference between life and death. What we are announcing today is that this Government is investing in a new national messaging services for emergencies. What this means is we're utilising a new cell broadcast technology. We’re not relying simply on the text messaging system, which is a store-and-forward system and is susceptible to different deficiencies, including delays.


This enables emergency services to be able to literally draw a ring around a defined area and broadcast a single message to any device in that area. It is far more instantaneous, real-time and effective. We know that because other countries have deployed this, that it can make a real, measurable difference during natural disasters and emergencies.


SHIRVINGTON: Now that you've got this technology, why is it taking so long to roll out?

ROWLAND: This requires a great deal of testing and also cooperation between the different telco carriers. But the important thing here, Matt, is that we're getting it done. We are committing this money in the Budget to set this up. We're also committing to a timeframe. We know from the lessons of other countries that we should be able to enable the best quality messaging network being delivered for Australian consumers. That's what it's all about.


SHIRVINGTON: Advanced warning, it's a good thing. Just before you go, the Government is set to introduce tough new bands on vapes we're hearing this morning - a world first. Why are these bans the best way forward.


ROWLAND:  My colleague, the Health Minister, is going to outline this in detail today. But I would make two key points. I think all of your viewers would be very aware of the proliferation of vapes in our community, particularly the way in which they've been marketed to young people. When we have a situation where schools are needing to talk about installing vape detectors in their toilets - that is a very serious matter. Australia has always led the world when it comes to tobacco controls and minimising harms. This is an important step in that as well. The Health Minister will outline this today we were because we consider this to be a serious public health issue and we're going to take action.


SHIRVINGTON: Yeah, we're going to have more on the issue throughout sunrise as well today. Michelle Rowland. Thanks for your time.