Labor’s Shocker Misinformation Bill Should Be Torn Up

The Coalition will not support Labor’s proposed Misinformation laws.

Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman said the Government’s exposure draft of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 would suppress legitimate free speech in Australia.

“This is a very bad bill.  The Government should rip it up,” Mr Coleman said.  “Freedom of speech is fundamental to our democracy, and the Coalition will always fight for it.

“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.”

The many problems with the Bill include:

  • The definition of “misinformation” is so broad that it could capture many statements made by Australians in the context of political debate.
  • Authorised content by the Albanese Government can’t be misinformation, but criticisms of the Albanese Government by ordinary Australians can be misinformation.
  • 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.

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.”

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