A Q&A; audience member has summed up the Australian public's frustration over the dual-citizenship debacle with one withering question.

"Do the pollies take the public as total mugs?" Peter Johnson asked on Monday night's show on ABCTV.

The audience member said the scandal had exposed politicians' "utter contempt for the people to whom they are supposedly accountable".


"I considered standing for the Senate but desisted due to the dual citizenship rules," he said.

"If a mere mortal such as me is aware of the relevant laws, how on Earth can it be that politicians failed to even ask questions of their parties and the legion of cronies and so-called political advisers?"

Audience member Peter Johnson lays into the panel.
Audience member Peter Johnson lays into the panel. ABC

Labor MP Terri Butler said "Malcolm Turnbull could do the right thing and call an election" because of the scandal.

However, Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor told the audience "there's no quick fix" to the problem.

"I don't think there's a conspiracy but I think you're fair to point out there has been a breach of trust," he said.

Liberal member Angus Taylor says there’s no ‘quick fix’ to the citizenship scandal.
Liberal member Angus Taylor says there’s no ‘quick fix’ to the citizenship scandal. ABC


"The critical thing for every member of Parliament now is to come clean.

"That is the crucial thing to do because that's how we rebuild trust. Every one of us has to look at our own circumstances and come clean with the Australian people. It's been disappointing to me that hasn't happened as quickly as it should have."


But it wasn't all politics on Monday night's Q&A. The panel also sank its teeth into the future of artificial intelligence.

Celebrity particle physicist Brian Cox laid out a nightmare vision of the future, saying AI control of weapons could pose a "real threat to civilisation".

He said governments handing more powers to robots to save costs on defence ran the risk of "removing human morality from the decision-making".

Professor Brian Cox warned about the risk of removing morality.
Professor Brian Cox warned about the risk of removing morality. ABC


"If you sub out decision-making to expert systems, which we are doing at some level, but let's say you sub out decision-making for, in an extreme case, nuclear war to an expert system," Prof Cox the panel.

"It is true you could write an algorithm to run your defence forces, if you saw a threat from a particular country, you could run a response. You could imagine that. But that runs the risk of removing human morality from the decision-making.

"You can extend that to the whole nuclear deterrent. Then you have, I think, a real potential threat to civilisation."


The apocalyptic warning came off the back of an audience question about what governments should do to keep up with rise in digital and bio technology.

The audience member, James Raggatt, said the technology was "reshaping our social, cultural, political interactions on a vast scale and to an often overwhelming rate".


Panel member Shara Evans, a technology futurist, said robots and AI could change our lives for the better - but added that there were some "really scary things" we should look out for.

"You have artificial intelligent networks, particularly with a technique called deep learning, you have software that is basically allowing big data to be fed into these AI software constructs," she said.

"It may be social media data, YouTube videos, it could be databases, all sorts of things and the software learns by basically sucking in information from these millions and millions of data points and unconsciously can pick up social biases.

"There is a growing dominance of technologies that are voice-enabled, things like Amazon Alexa, OK Google or Siri; these things are always listening, always recording and, in some cases, selling the data to third parties."


The panel also butted heads over why One Nation was considered a rising force in Australian politics.

Audience member Howard Soffer said Pauline Hanson could be becoming more popular because "the Liberal Party is not standing up for their traditional values, the Labor Party abandoning its traditional base for populist and identity politics".

Labor’s Terri Butler believes the PM should call an election.
Labor’s Terri Butler believes the PM should call an election. ABC

Mr Taylor said his party was trying to strike the balance between "classical liberals and conservatives" to stop the rise of One Nation.

"I have respect for people who are conservatives, many of whom live in my electorate," he said. "They are good people. They firmly hold their beliefs. We should show them respect and we should incorporate people with those beliefs in our party.


"We are the home of people who might otherwise choose to vote One Nation.

"This is the key. We have to get that balance right. I think we are getting the balance right."

However, Ms Butler hit back saying One Nation are a "collective of opportunists" and it is "indefensible" for the Liberals and Nationals to be preferencing the party in Queensland.

"They are going to try to help get One Nation people elected into the Queensland Parliament because their plan is to elect One Nation into a crossbench and then form government with their support," she said.

"That's the only part the Liberal and National Party has in Queensland."

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