Federal Member For Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications

Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – Press Conference

Topic: Age verification for Social Media, X dispute with eSafety Commissioner



David Coleman: Well social media is causing huge problems for Australian kids and their families. Meta’s Instagram is causing problems. Tik Tok is causing problems. And we need age verification for social media. Now more than a year ago the eSafety Commissioner recommended the Government to get on with age verification to protect Australian children online, the Government said no, and it took them 14 months to act. Now last week, they said they would trial age verification technology. But the Government hasn’t included social media. We need an age limit for social media as part of this age verification trial. We need to include Instagram. We need to include TikTok because Australian children are suffering due to the conduct of social media platforms. This is a hugely important issue. Every Australian parent worries about this. Every Australian parent worries about what their kids are seeing on social media and the idea of having a trial of age verification without including Instagram, without including TikTok is outrageous. The Government has got to act on this. It should be straight forward. We don’t need months and months of inquiry. We just need to get on with it and act to protect Australian kids.

Journalist: Is it fair enough though, they kind of want to dissect it without (inaudible). Obviously kids are quite smart these days (inaudible) would actually do anything. It could be a waste of money.

David Coleman: Well the Commissioner has recommended a trial, and that’s what the Government has finally committed to. And we’ve got to include Instagram. We’ve got to include TikTok. They have to be a part of it. There has to be an age limit for accessing those platforms as part of this trial. This is happening all around the world. It’s happening in the UK. It’s happening in US states like Florida. It’s happening in Europe. Now why on earth is our Government not acting on this issue? They’ve had a recommendation from the eSafety Commissioner for more than a year. And what parent doesn’t worry about this issue? It is so hard as a parent to know what your kids are consuming when they are on social media. But we know they are seeing violent material. We know they’re seeing pornographic material. We know they’re seeing dangerous material. And that’s why we have got to move forward on age verification for social media. It’s got to include Instagram and TikTok and the Government just needs to get on with it. This Government is addicted to Inquiries but what Australian parents want is action and it’s time for the Government to act.

Journalist: Social media platform X is back in court today. Is this a battle worth fighting for the eSafety Commissioner?

David Coleman: Well look, I’m reluctant to get into the details, obviously, because it is before the court. But look, we back the eSafety Commissioner 100% in taking action to protect Australians. And the action that the eSafety Commissioner is taking shows again why we need age verification for social media. Because children are seeing this stuff. Children are seeing dangerous material online. They are seeing violent material online. They are seeing pornographic material online. And we’ve got to act on age verification for social media, because if we had age verification for social media, that would mean that far fewer kids would be seeing violent material like the stabbing material that’s the subject of this court case.

Journalist: The application in this court case seeks to remove those videos not even in Australia, but internationally as well. Does that cause any freedom of speech issues for you personally?

David Coleman: Well look, we fully support the eSafety Commissioner in taking action to protect Australians online. The Online Safety Act was put in place by the Coalition. It’s about protecting Australians online and we fully support the Commissioner’s action and of course, Australian law applies to Australians, not to the citizens of other countries. We fully support the Commissioner in taking action to protect Australians.

Journalist: Just lastly, I understand that this only just broke but as the former Immigration Minister, the High Court handed down its decision to dismiss the case on the Iranian man who was seeking to stay in Australia. Do you have a reaction to that?

David Coleman: Look I haven’t, I wasn’t aware of that, and I’d leave comments on that for our Shadow Immigration Minister, Dan Tehan.