August 2, 2023

Labor’s planned misinformation laws should not be imposed on residents in Wide Bay or on any Australian.

Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien says the Albanese Labor Government’s plan amounts to an attack on free speech and freedom of expression across Australia.

Mr O’Brien said that under the proposed legislation, there would be one rule for Government Members of Parliament and another rule for everyone else who wants to share their opinions and have their say.

The Government’s plans have been set out in their exposure draft of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023.

“This is a bad Bill which should be shredded and dumped,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Freedom of speech is fundamental to our democracy, and the Coalition will fight against this assault by the Albanese Labor Government on free speech and our democracy.”

The many problems with the Bill include:

  • Authorised content by the Albanese Government can’t be misinformation, but criticisms of the Albanese Government by other Australians can be misinformation.
  • The definition of “misinformation” is so broad that it could capture many statements made by Australians in the context of political debate.
  • Nothing an academic says can be misinformation, but statements by somebody disagreeing with an academic can be misinformation.
  • Good faith statements made by entertainers cannot be misinformation, but good faith statements made by ordinary Australians on political matters can be misinformation.
  • Journalists commenting on their personal digital platforms could have their content removed as misinformation.
  • If the Minister has a favoured digital platform, then that platform could be entirely removed from the application of the misinformation laws.

“This is a Bill that was dreamed up in Canberra – but it would have terrible impacts on free speech in every community around Australia.”

Shadow Minister for Communications David Coleman said the Bill gives the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) extraordinary powers.

“It would lead to digital companies self-censoring the legitimately held views of Australians to avoid the risk of massive fines,” Mr Coleman said.

Under the Albanese Government’s proposed laws, ACMA would gain sweeping powers to require any Australian to appear at a time and place of its choosing to answer questions about misinformation or disinformation.  Heavy fines would apply for non-attendance.

“The Albanese Government has got this horribly wrong,” Mr Coleman said.

“This Bill is appalling and will be strongly opposed by the Coalition.”


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