Federal Member For Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications

Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – ABC Radio Newcastle – Drive with Paul Culliver – The Coalition’s plan to crack down on youth crime and online notoriety

Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – ABC Radio Newcastle – Drive with Paul Culliver


The Hon. David Coleman 

Shadow Minister for Communications

Federal Member for Banks

14 March 2024

Subject: The Coalition’s plan to crack down on youth crime and online notoriety




Paul Culliver: First though, the issue of youth crime videos. Should you be jailed simply for putting a video online, albeit if that video is depicting a criminal act? Well, David Coleman is the Shadow Minister for Communications, an MP right here in New South Wales. Good afternoon to you, David Coleman.

David Coleman: Good afternoon.

Paul Culliver: How would you like to crack down on video surfacing online depicting youth crime?

David Coleman: Yeah, we’re very concerned about this Paul. So what we’re seeing is people posting these videos online to basically celebrate and glamorise crime. It’s completely unacceptable. So what we’re saying is, if you post one of those videos to make yourself notorious online for being involved in a crime, you could go to jail for up to two years. We think that’s appropriate. Unfortunately, posting these videos is actually part of the incentive, believe it or not, for some of these people to commit crimes, we need to take that incentive away. And we want people to know they could go to jail if they do this. We also will give the courts the power to ban people from using social media and in addition, we’ll give the eSafety Commissioner the power to remove these videos, because at the moment, there isn’t a clear legal power to take these videos down and we want to give the eSafety Commissioner the power to do that.

Paul Culliver: How difficult is it going to be to prove that someone’s posted something up to try to improve their notoriety, or indeed their friend’s notoriety?

David Coleman: I think it’s quite clear because normally when you see these videos, it’s often almost in the text or in the comments and so on, it’s very clear that they are being posted, to increase the notoriety of that person. There was a trend called, Creeping While You’re Sleeping, where people would go and literally post these videos of themselves or their friends during home invasions, and basically seeking acclaim online. So I think in most cases it will be quite straightforward to show that the person is seeking notoriety. And obviously that’s a very different situation if a journalist or a bystander is posting a video to help catch a criminal, for instance. Very different situation to when someone posts it because they think it’s going to make them popular online.

Paul Culliver: Yeah so that’s a big difference. Might it be that we have lots of people putting up their CCTV footage, people lurking in driveways and trying to steal cars and that kind of thing. Isn’t there a pretty big risk though, that even though you say that they’re not going to be the target here, they’ll get caught up in this legislation?

David Coleman: No they won’t because in that case, it’s very clear that the person’s not doing it in search of notoriety. The person’s doing it because they want to inform people about crime, because they want to alert people to crime in the area, because they want to catch criminals. That’s a completely different situation. The typical situation here is, it might be a small group of criminals who get together, commit a crime, and then post a video online boasting about it. That’s very different to an everyday person posting a video to try and actually catch the criminals.

Paul Culliver: Plenty of anonymous social media accounts out there. What’s the likelihood you can actually identify these people?

David Coleman: Yeah well, if the person, well firstly you often can from the videos themselves, obviously, because they often depict people. And in fact, in Queensland, where a similar law has been in place for a number of months, there’s been more than 100 people identified by the Queensland Police. So in many cases you will be able to clearly identify who it is. The police, of course, also have the power to go to social media companies and to request that information is provided. On the vast majority of occasions, the social media companies do provide that information. And if they don’t, the police have further powers to seek subpoenas or warrants to require them to. So in the vast majority of cases, the people will be identified if they do this.

Paul Culliver: Well, just on that, shouldn’t this be an issue for State legislation? Why should the Feds get involved?

David Coleman: Well we have a section of the criminal Federal Criminal Code dealing with what we call telecommunications offences. So that’s things where you’re using a phone or the internet, to commit a crime. And there’s already quite a number of these things like harassing people online, images posted online, and so on. So we have that power within the Commonwealth, and we think that we should use it to make sure that on a national basis, this law exists. At the moment, Queensland, has something in place. New South Wales has announced something but not enacted it. And the other States and Territories haven’t. And these laws can work side by side. The Federal law goes a little broader, in terms of the ban on social media and the powers of the eSafety Commissioner. But they can sit side by side. And, we think it’s good to give the police another tool to use to take on this real scourge in our community.

Paul Culliver: I’m just curious how you think this will make a difference? Because of course, these people that in theory, they’re already committing crimes and filming them, they already clearly don’t care about the consequences. Why should they care about an extra piece of legislation, an extra offence that they might also cop?

David Coleman: Well I think the more that you are liable for what you do, the more the incentive not to do it. And this provision also captures people who are filming the crime but not necessarily committing it. So that means that if a friend is there, and filming their so-called friends committing a crime, then if they post that video for the purpose of increasing their own notoriety or their friend’s notoriety, they would be guilty of this offence. So it actually goes further and captures those people as well.

Paul Culliver: Two years jail for posting a video though. That seems pretty tough, right?

David Coleman: Well, I think, Paul, when you think about the nature of some of these videos. I mean, if someone is posting a video of a violent bashing of a violent home invasion, these are very, very serious offences. And I think a prison term is appropriate in that circumstance. Obviously, the sentence to be given will be decided by the court, but when it’s a serious crime and someone goes and puts it online and basically almost sort of makes a joke out of it and says, look at me, I think that a prison sentence is exactly appropriate. And that’s why the Coalition made this announcement today.

Paul Culliver: Committing a serious crime though, and posting a video about a serious crime, two very different things. Surely something like community service or some kind of intervention, some directions program, something like that, that would rehabilitate someone that thought that was a good idea, surely could be more constructive than jail time?

David Coleman: No I think jail needs to be an option. And of course, as I said, the court will decide in each individual case what to do. But in the serious cases, if someone has gone along whilst others have viciously bashed someone or viciously attacked someone or invaded their home and then gone and said, I’m going to post this online because I think this is cool, then that is just totally unacceptable. And a jail term for that person in those serious situations, I think is appropriate. And we do want to send a message to people who are out there who might be thinking about getting involved in this sort of activity or posting these sorts of videos. Under a Coalition Government, don’t do it because if you get involved, if you post the video, you could go to jail. And so next week in Canberra, we’ll be introducing this legislation to the Parliament. We’d like the Government to support it and to bring it in, and we would welcome that and we would be very supportive of the Government if they did. This is a big problem right across the country. And as you’re probably aware, I’ve seen media reports of this being an issue specifically in Newcastle as well as many other parts of the country. And so action needs to be taken on this. We’ve got to get this under control. It’s not under control at the moment. And this Federal offence will help to improve the situation.

Paul Culliver: Just on the other point of the idea that the court could prohibit people from posting to social media for up to two years. How do you even place that? Is that something that you can even impose?

David Coleman: Yes, you can. And if you disobey a court order, you are in contempt of court and therefore you’re liable to be effectively guilty of another offence and the court will impose a penalty on you. There are many examples. Of course, if you think about things like visa conditions and so on, where the person isn’t followed around at all hours of the day, but nonetheless are required to comply with the conditions of their visa, and can be guilty of an offence if they don’t. So yes, I think it’s a very appropriate provision to have in place. Victoria has a thing called Youth Control Orders that has a similar provision. And of course, if someone’s been using social media to do this sort of thing, we want them off social media. And if they’ve been convicted of the offence of posting a video for the purpose of notoriety, then they should also be required or at least for the court to have the option to require, that they don’t use social media.

Paul Culliver: Are the social media companies playing ball and will they play ball taking down these videos?

David Coleman: Well, they need to, and they’ll be subject to fines if they don’t. I think they will on this matter. The eSafety Commissioner to date has tried to work with them in a cooperative fashion. But we feel we need to give the eSafety Commissioner a legal power. And, if you want to operate in Australia, it doesn’t matter what company you are or what industry you’re in, you must follow the laws of Australia. So it’s not optional for the social media companies. They will be required to do this. And I’m confident that they will.

Paul Culliver: David Coleman, thanks for your time today.

David Coleman: Thanks, Paul.