Federal Member For Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications

Shadow Minister For Communications – Media Release – Rowland Refuses To Act On Age Verification – Baffling ABC Interview Sheds No Light On Government’s Inexplicable Decision

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland continues to refuse to act on the eSafety Commissioner’s clear recommendation in her Roadmap for Age Verification report to implement a trial of age assurance technology to protect children online.

As the Commissioner noted in her March 2023 recommendation, the trial could have been used to establish a minimum age to use a social media service.

The Minister’s baffling response to ABC Radio Sydney today on the issue of social media has shed no light on her inexplicable decision.

Transcript, ABC Radio Sydney, 7:48 am, March 27 2024:

Craig Reucassel

Just finally, Florida’s banned children under 14 from using smartphones and social media. New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said he’d back a national review into the impact of social media companies. Will you commit to running this? Do you think this is a direction Australia might go in?

Michelle Rowland

Well, keeping Australians safe online is obviously the first priority of government, and particularly in terms of young people in their vulnerabilities. It’s an issue that’s recognised by regulators around the world and they’re grappling with it. Um, equally, states and territories are grappling with it. Um, we have a number of measures that are on foot at the moment. Of course in Australia, we are fortunate to have a well-resourced regulator in eSafety, but also an Online Safety Act that provide an important legal framework there. Um, we continue to work with the states and territories in terms of understanding their data and ensuring that we have a robust framework that is properly enforced. Um, but of course, keeping children safe online is a collective responsibility. It’s a responsibility of industry which needs to lift its game, um, of regulators, of civil society and of law enforcement. And to that end, I have brought forward a review of the Online Safety Act, which is being undertaken and will present its findings to me this year, because although this law has only been in place for a couple of years, so many new and emerging harms are now prevalent. Everything from deepfakes and the impact of generative AI to the impact of young people and recommender systems and eating disorders. Yeah, absolutely.

It’s time for the Communications Minister to communicate with clarity and protect Australian kids online.

The eSafety Commissioner wants a trial of age assurance technology, Australian parents want it, all we need is for the Minister to stop standing in the way.


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