Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – ABC Radio Melbourne- Drive with Warwick Long

Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – ABC Radio Melbourne- Drive with Warwick Long

 

The Hon. David Coleman 

Shadow Minister for Communications

Federal Member for Banks

14 March 2024

Subjects: the Coalition’s plan to crack down on youth crime and online notoriety, Labor’s weak leadership on Meta, TikTok, ABC

 

E&OE…

 

Warwick Long: Three senior Opposition Ministers, Shadow Ministers are in Melbourne today calling for the Government to get tougher on crime and safety, particularly online. Big issue in Queensland around elections there, big issue in New South Wales. Is it important to you? Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Michaelia Cash and Shadow Minister for Communications, David Coleman, all making that announcement today. And David Coleman, the Shadow Minister for Communications, can join you now. Welcome to Drive.

David Coleman: Good afternoon.

Warwick Long: Why are you in Melbourne?

David Coleman: I was in Melbourne today to make this important announcement about cracking down on these terrible social media videos that depict crime. So what we’ve announced today is that a Coalition Government would make it a criminal offence to post these videos of crime for the purpose of increasing a person’s notoriety. Because the sad reality is, some people post these videos because they want to impress their friends that they were involved in a crime. And so the videos actually become almost an incentive to complete the crime, ridiculous though that sounds. And so what we’re saying now is, if you post one of those videos that glorifies a crime that seeks to make you notorious, you could face a prison term of up to two years. We think that’s the right thing to do. This is a big problem in society. From Victoria, right across to WA, right across the country. And there’s three measures we announced today but that first one is a particularly important one that says that you could go to jail if you post one of these videos.

Warwick Long: Who has the power to take down that content if it’s deemed to be illegal?

David Coleman: Yeah well at the moment, the eSafety Commissioner does not have an explicit legal power to take it down. So one of the three things we announced today is we will give the eSafety Commissioner that power. She tries to do that on an informal basis at the moment, but we believe she needs a clear law to enable her to do it.

Warwick Long: Is that a lot of power for one person to have?

David Coleman: I think it’s an appropriate power. She has similar powers in relation to things like cyber bullying already. But we think this is an anomaly where she doesn’t actually have a power in relation to these videos of a crime. So no, we think she should have the power and that’s what we will give her. And the social media companies will be required to comply when she gives them that notice.

Warwick Long: So this is so-called, ‘posting and boasting’ that you’re looking to create laws around here. This is a debate in New South Wales at the moment. Queensland’s had similar laws. Is there really room for a Federal Government to step in here?

David Coleman: Yeah well, we have powers under the Constitution in relation to telecommunications. So there’s actually quite a lot of Federal Law already about telecommunications offences- and that’s what this is. This is using a mobile phone or the internet, to commit what we believe should be an offence.

Warwick Long: So does that sit over those State laws that are already existing?

David Coleman: Yeah alongside. So in Queensland and New South Wales, those laws, well Queensland’s is in place and New South Wales has been announced. The other States and Territories haven’t announced anything on this as yet. And what this will do is give police further options. They may decide to implement the State provision or a Federal provision, but we want to give them the tools to really act on this. In most of the country, as at today, they don’t actually have a specific power to do this. We have numerous telecommunications criminal offences already under Federal law and we think this should be a Federal offence as well.

Warwick Long: How does this get received in Victoria specifically? When you think, last time Peter Dutton came to Melbourne to talk crime, he said it wasn’t safe to go out at night. Do you have to be delicate when you come to Victoria talking about being tougher on crime?

David Coleman: Oh look, I think this is a very big issue in every part of Australia and there’s actually been instances of these videos, in Victoria. And I think this is common sense to be frank, because what Australian would say it should be okay to post videos glamorising violent crime? I mean, it’s just common sense. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re from Melbourne or Mareeba, I think that’s pretty self-evident.

Warwick Long: But given you chose Melbourne for this announcement and given that history, was there specific thought to that, for this announcement here?

David Coleman: No well, we could have announced this anywhere in the country. But it’s an issue in Victoria as it is in, as I said, everywhere in the country. And so why wouldn’t the Commonwealth take action on something as important as this? There are many Australians who have been the victim of these crimes. People who have had their house broken into and a video filmed of them while they were sleeping. People who have been videoed being assaulted and then that posted online. It’s completely unacceptable and it should not be okay and that’s why we put in place this law.

Warwick Long: So I just want to be clear here, given the history with Melbourne and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s announcements, there is no specific targeting of Victoria, of Melbourne or the State in general, indeed, our State Government in general, over any of the reasons to make this announcement here?

David Coleman: No. This applies to the entire country and obviously it would be welcome if Victoria also took action in this area. But it doesn’t matter where you are- this matters. I mean, if you’re a person who has been the victim of one of these crimes depicted in these videos, it doesn’t matter where you live. It’s equally horrible and something needs to be done about it and that’s why we’re taking action.

Warwick Long: There’s a push in this State to raise the age of criminality. How would that work in with your laws here that are proposing to have jail time for posting and boasting?

David Coleman: Well this uses the existing Federal laws and it doesn’t seek to change the rules about the age of criminality. And that’s a debate I know that’s going on in Victoria, but this is a Federal offence that uses the existing, Federal provisions and it would be applied in that way.

Warwick Long: David Coleman is with you, the Shadow Minister for Communications, in Melbourne today with a proposal around ‘posting and boasting’ and giving powers to take down, well, content if it’s posted to be known to be committing a crime. David Coleman, just on a couple of other issues in your portfolio, if I may. You’ve been quite vocal around Meta deciding to pull out of paying for Australian journalism that will affect publications and services like the ABC itself. Have you heard anything from that company in itself, or would you propose laws around Meta to effectively force the company to pay more for journalists?

David Coleman: Well, we put in place the News Bargaining Code back in 2021 when we were in Government on this exact topic. And you might recall that Mark Zuckerberg took down news in Australia for about 4 or 5 days completely, in response to that legislation. Josh Frydenberg to be frank, he stared him down and Facebook buckled and they started to pay for Australian news, as they always should have. Now the Federal Government’s got very powerful tools under the News Media Bargaining Code. I anticipate that they will use those provisions. They should use those provisions. And the bottom line is, the Government needs to make Meta pay, because if Meta doesn’t pay for journalism, why would anyone else? And if digital companies that benefit from journalism don’t pay for it, that will drive a stake through the heart of Australian journalism. So we succeeded on this issue very clearly, when we were in Government. And now it’s up to Mr. Albanese, to show the strength needed to get this done.

Warwick Long: Another issue at the moment is, Mr. Prime Minister Albanese has said he’s not looking to ban TikTok, they’re looking at banning it though, this social media platform in the US as well. Should Australians have access to TikTok?

David Coleman: Well look, there are very significant concerns about TikTok and particularly its use of data and how that data is accessed and whether the privacy of particularly Australian children who, so many of whom use TikTok, whether that data is protected. And that’s why the Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton made very clear today that Mr. Albanese needs to be taking action on this issue. He needs to be, if he is comfortable with the current situation, he needs to ensure or assure Australians rather, of why he’s comfortable. And we obviously watch the US very closely but yeah, this is a very significant issue.

Warwick Long: Is it a Communications issue or a National Security issue in your mind?

David Coleman: Well, this would fall mainly into James Paterson’s portfolio in the Home Affairs Portfolio, because there are National Security issues there.

Warwick Long: Because it’s a major platform as well, communication platform. But you see it as something you would take advice of from the National Security side of things to decide the future of a platform.

David Coleman: Oh, it’s something we’d all obviously work on together as a Coalition. But there are clearly Home Affairs issues that are relevant here. But it’s a very serious issue. And the manner in which Australians data is used is really important. If Mr. Albanese is comfortable with what’s occurring at present, he should say so. And if he’s not, he should say so as well.

Warwick Long: Have you met the new ABC Chair yet, Kim Williams?

David Coleman: I haven’t, but I do know Kim. I was actually on the board of Sky News with Kim Williams many years ago, so I know him, I’ve spoken to him and I welcomed his appointment.

Warwick Long: He was on Raf Epstein’s program today, saying Peter Dutton’s opinion of the ABC was just that and doesn’t require a reply. Will you look to have a good relationship with the new ABC Chair?

David Coleman: Well look, we’ll always look to have good relationships with the ABC. We will also criticise the ABC when it makes mistakes. The ABC is not infallible and on occasion it gets it wrong, and we shouldn’t hesitate to highlight that when it does occur. But certainly Mr. Williams has extensive expertise and experience in the media industry and we very much welcomed his appointment.

Warwick Long: Does the ABC do a good job?

David Coleman: The ABC does many things well but, it’s not perfect. And it should be called out when it isn’t. There are concerns on occasion about its news coverage, we’ve seen that on a number of times in recent years. But of course, the ABC does some things well, and sometimes it gets it wrong and it’s not above criticism, as none of us are.

Warwick Long: David Coleman, thank you very much for your time. Greatly appreciate it on the program today.

David Coleman: No worries. Thanks very much.

Warwick Long: That’s the Shadow Minister for Communications, David Coleman, speaking to you on this program.